What to serve your vegan friend at a BBQ

So you’ve got a great friend who’s a vegan, but you’re hosting a BBQ and normally eat meat yourself… not sure what to dish up? We’re coming to the rescue! Here’s some tips and ideas on what food you can serve up and keep everyone happy.

Some vegan basics

Being vegan means eating no meat products. So this means no meat, poultry (usually no fish but you can check)  or any animal by-products such as eggs, honey, cheese, whey, gelatine, butter or cream.

If you’re purchasing any packaged goods, all you need to do is read the label ingredients list for any animal products. Note: Milk powder is also a no-no and is found in many packaged goods; even ones you wouldn’t think would have any milk in them. Make sure you check anything including sauces and even wine.

Some vegans will be particular about the food preparation and cooking, so double check with them first. All vegans will generally not want their food cooked on the same surface as meat; an easy way around this is just to lay down a piece of tinfoil on the BBQ plate and cook on top of that.

What to serve for nibbles

Salsa/guacamole and corn chips – Find some vegan friendly corn chips (shouldn’t be too hard, but many brands contain milk powder); many salsa and guacamole brands will be suitable off the shelf, but double check the ingredients list and if no good, make some yourself.

Garlic pita bread with hummus – Check your ingredients are fine, then cut the pita bread into triangles like a pizza and lightly grill until slightly browned/toasted, then serve with hummus as a dip.

Carrot and celery sticks – Just as it sounds; then serve with hummus or salsa.

What to BBQ

Some suggestions for your main vegan BBQ food:

Skewers – Take bite-sized cubes or slices of any combination of onion, courgette, eggplant, capsicum (different colours look great) and mushroom. If you’re buying a meat equivalent, you could get tofu or another kind of vegan meat substitute. Many supermarkets or healthfood stores will stock vegan sausages or burger patties. You can either marinate all the ingredients or use your favourite herbs and spices, thread them alternately onto skewer sticks, brush with a little canola or olive oil, then grill.

Grilled sliced veges – Cut eggplant, courgettes and/or carrots into thick slices, use your favourite herbs and spices and grill until browned/cooked through. You could also use the tops of large mushrooms which are also a great burger patty substitute.

– Corn on the cob – No butter here, but sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, perhaps some smoked paprika, brush with some canola or olive oil, wrap in tinfoil and slow cook, turning regularly until corn is soft.

Alternatively, go the meat-substitute way and get some of the vegan sausages or vegan burger patties to make hamburgers. Make sure you have a big salad available for everyone (including the meat eaters!).

Dessert options

A lot of baking is out unless you can find suitable substitutes for eggs, milk and butter. If you want to be an amazing host, take a look at www.vegweb.com and browse through their recipes; just be aware that some are vegetarian rather than vegan options. There are some great baking ideas on there in addition to other meals, and fantastic tips on ingredient substitution. Otherwise here are some simpler ideas:

Fruit skewers – Run with the skewer theme and alternately thread bite-sized pieces of different fruits onto skewers. No skewers? Just make a fruit salad!

Grilled bananas with chocolate sauce – Find a dark chocolate without milk products added, grill bananas individually wrapped in tinfoil, when cooked, split and drizzle with chocolate melted in a bowl over some hot water.

-Grilled pineapple – Tastes amazing. Cut the pineapple into wedges, slice off the core and the skin, then lightly grill until it starts to get toasty.

Regular fruit is also a goer and with summer upon us, watermelon or strawberries are always going to be great options!

Image / Flickr – Eli Hodapp

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