As American society continues to evolve, dietary preferences become more and more specialized. One major trend is the switch or gradual implementation of vegetarian eating. Even if people eat meat on occasion, it’s becoming more and more popular for people to indulge on exclusively vegetarian options at meal time.
In many places, particularly the United States, one meal in particular is often associated with a meat-friendly menu: the classic barbeque. While there’s no doubt that grilling meat is a tasty way to dine, it’s also a good idea to acknowledge that vegetarian options are just as doable when it comes to BBQ season.
Below I list the ways to carry out a vegetarian BBQ, and why it matters. Even if you have a grill session that includes some meat, these tips can help you better incorporate veggies and non-meat options for those that are interested.
Get the numbers
The first step in any barbeque is to gauge how many people will be attending. While this seems obvious, it’s a more critical stage in the planning when vegetarian is the theme because non-meat options can be harder to portion. What is normally a steak or chicken breast for each person might be three veggie skewers. It’s just wise it get it organized.
Plan for it: Make sure to assess how many people will be attending the barbeque, how many are vegetarian and any other allergies you might need to know about. You’ll also want to find out if there’s anyone that would strongly prefer meat so that you can adjust accordingly for them as well.
Selecting the menu
Similar to a standard BBQ, it’s important to select the right menu items so that people are not only satisfied, but possibly inspired by the non-meat selection. There are many options to consider:
Vegan sausages: These are a great alternative to hot dogs and are surprisingly filling. They usually have the texture of meat and are unexpectedly tasty, particularly when grilled rather than cooked in a pan. They’re perfect for a BBQ, and if you’re having a vegetarian grill out it’s wise to have some of these on hand. If nothing else, they will fill people up.
Veggie burgers: While these are a staple at many cook outs, it’s a good idea to try and get a variety of them for your BBQ. For one, many of them taste different from one another and there’s a decent chance that someone may not be satisfied if you only bring one brand. Whereas a beef patty is a beef patty and a breast of chicken is a breast of chicken, a veggie burger can taste drastically different depending on the exact type.
Vegetables: Some vegetables grill better than others. A specific option to highlight involves skewers, zucchini, mushrooms and teriyaki sauce. Try marinating the zucchini and mushrooms in a cookware dish before cooking them for 5-10 minutes over an open flame grill. The flavor is unbelievable and will redefine vegetarian BBQs for your guests.
Plan for it: Vegetarian BBQs naturally require more creativity than traditional ones. Due to this, your innovation will be required to satisfy people that are most likely accustomed to meat-heavy grilling sessions. It’s more than possible, and providing both a variety of options and quality cooking can make or break the event.
It’s more important with vegetarian grill outs to get a feel for how successful the meal was. Did people like the skewers? Were the vegan hot dogs a hit? Are there still people picking at the appetizer table because they aren’t full? Did anyone make a comment about how it was nice to have a non-meat meal? Did anyone complain about it?
Plan for it: Try and be extra attentive when it comes to assessing the satisfaction of your guests. Make a concerted effort to find out if you did it right, and if not, what you can offer next time for a better outcome.
While traditional barbeques are meat-heavy for a reason, it’s important to accommodate everyone during a revolution in our society. There are plenty of people that eat meat, and rightfully so, but there are also many who don’t. A barbeque, when carried out the right way, can make a vegetarian meal better than ever.
Cassie Corbett is a writer and self-appointed master chef. When she’s not cooking a meal for her friends, she rights for World Kitchen about cutlery sets and other house ware items.
Flickr Image by: i_am_tirol