The vegan guide to grilling: Do’s & Dont’s


GRILLIN SEASON YO! But oh snap, you’re vegan! That’s right – YOU were the one that, in the sanctity and potato soup laden months surrounding New Years, elected to stop eating animals without even considering that, YES, fish is an animal and, YES, that one douche from college that shows up to backyard parties with the ‘bags’ and Bud Light will call you a pussy.

Here is good general advice: don’t let the douche get you down. Use this as an opportunity to parade around your plant-powered washboard abs, drink your new-age classy microbrew,  and show off your hot vegan girl/boy toy you snagged while reaching for the same bottle of kombucha at the Coop – then watch smugly as “el douche” houses your secretly vegan foods. Congrats on being the bigger person.

That grill looks like it was dumped on by a rainbow. A nom nom rainbow.

The following is a general outline of how to have a proper a vegan BBQ, and how to properly jack up a vegan BBQ.  Grab a cold one, sit back, and explore the dos and don’ts of vegan grillin’!

Brian demonstrating how to look casually cool while the thunderous excitement for vegan grillin’ steeps manically beneath the surface.

DO:  Purchase your favorite seasonal grill-able veggies.  The key is cutting the veggies in BIG slices and putting them directly on the grill, brushed with a little oil and salt and pepper or your favorite herbs.

  • red onions
  • asparagus
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • portabella mushrooms
  • eggplant

DON’T:  Speak like a vegan food scientist in casual conversation. Also, try not to add the words “vegan” and “cruelty free” when describing any food OR find tricky ways to politicize the meal. Examples include “Are you enjoying your reconstituted TVP burger?” or “How is the vegan potato salad? The potatoes are locally grown and the farmer assured me that no Monsanto poisons pollute any farms within 100 miles of his.” Basically this “Don’t” should read: Don’t be an asshole.

DO:  Have plenty of beer on ice.  Expensive, cheap, or somewhere in the middle. The word in the hipster underground is that Miller High Life and PBR  are the new cheap-chic…so depending on your camp, either stock up or post a passive aggressive anti-hipster sign such as “I brake for Coors Light” or “Down with Ray Ban’s”.  Our house microbrew fav’s are Rogue Dead Guy, Fat Tire, Pyramid Apricot, and Caldera Ashland amber.  Besides quality produce, cold beer IS essential.

DON’T: Put out the fire with your urine. It may sound fun, but the only meat getting near the grill should be made from plants.

DO:  Experiment with the many faux-meat grill-ables. Everybody from Tofurky to Boca to Field Roast makes a version of brats and veggie burgers. Our go-to brats are the Field Roast Apple & Sage, or you can try making your own version using this recipe. Veggie burgers are up for debate in our fam, but I have been power-eating the Don Lee veggie patties at about every meal lately – not only do they have a rad indian food flava with a burger-like texture, they are also hella cheap at Costco.

Preparing the sausage for the Battle of the Grill.

DON’T: Alienate anyone based on food preference. Life is about doing what brings you the most happiness, and while I would love it if everyone thought like me – it would also be boring and terrifying. The key is sharing your passion for veganism, or any other belief and passion , is to listen loudly, be open to answering questions, let go of judgements, and offer a supportive ear. Your friends will be curious about how you can be so happy with all that veg, but they may not quite be ready to make the change. Cook your fare then let them cook their goods. Oh, and it’s totally cool to just say you prefer not to cook the meat if it weirds you out – and if they are a true friend, they will be equally as cool with cooking.

DO: Cook veggie burgers on a mesh grate or foil over the grill. Since some of the burgers are bound together by beans they tend to get soft on the grill and will fall between the wider grate. Nobody likes a dusty-ass, charcoal covered burger.

black bean burger from Veganomican (killer cookbook)

Grilled tofu protein bomb

DON’T: Skimp on the sides. Be sure to have the standard chips and guacamole, a creative potato salad , and plenty of dippin’s. I can no longer eat vegetables without Cafe Yumm’s Yumm sauce – I can, and have, eaten that stuff straight up with a spoon. And lest we forget it was Chaucer who once said, “Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting.” Don’t bring the woe – bust out that hot sauce and bedazzel the grill you f’in grillers!

DO: Get creative with greens. Sturdy greens such as bok choy, kale, and romaine can be grilled with a little oil, salt, and pepper and used to cut up in salads, toss with beans and a dressing, or as an alternative to buns (such as our little grilled tempeh lettuce wraps seen here).

Top it with some hot stuff and apply some sauce. (that’s what she said)

Dang that lettuce look good!

DON’T: Forget dessert. Have some dairy free ice-cream, we heart Coconut Bliss vanilla island, and while the grill is hot, grab some peaches or other stone fruit, and try this delicious grilled peaches recipe from PPK.

I fell into a burning ring of fire…and it was delicious.

DO: Sell it to your friends that this vegan grilling experience is an adventure or turn it into a competition. How about hosting your own grilling Iron Chef with meat free ingredients? Or most creative use of grilled vegetables wins a sweet veggie themed apron like this?

Lastly, DON’T forget why you made this decision to cut back or go free of meat. We love embracing the challenge to transform our seasonal and traditional cravings into new, kinder cravings. Be sure to share your summer favorites and cheers to a great summer!

Best (iowa) corn: Paprika and chipotle spices, cooked with the husk on. Juicy deliciousness.

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