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Summer is soon approaching, which means it's about that time of year to enjoy backyard barbecues with friends and family. Even if you're the only vegan on the deck, you can still have fun and eat some delicious food. If you're tasked with bringing a little something to share, here are some options to choose from that even the most militant meat-eater will enjoy.
Jackfruit Pulled Pork Sandwiches
In the South, where I'm from, a barbecue isn't much of a barbecue without some smoky, slow-cooked pulled pork. Luckily, you can bring your own veganized version of the dish.
There are two main options to creating faux pulled pork: oyster mushrooms and jackfruit. Both foods when gently shredded can mimic the texture, and they absorb flavors from seasoning and sauces quite well.
However, jackfruit tends to be easier to deal with, as it tends to naturally separate while oyster mushrooms take some meticulous time deliberately pulling a fork through each shroom. Most vegans tend to prefer how easy jackfruit is.
This recipe is a great way to enjoy a main dish at the cookout - none of us want to be restricted to just a mishmash of salads and bread rolls.
If you like a more smoky flavor, I recommend adding 2 tsp of liquid smoke to the recipe. If you’re not the biggest avocado slaw fan, try a tangy vinegar-based coleslaw or some homemade sauerkraut to balance the flavors.
Kabobs are a classic at barbecues. However, you don’t actually have to add chunks of meat to your skewers. Chunky mushrooms and little blocks of tofu work well as a meaty substitute, but you could just as easily load it up with your favorite veggies instead. Ask the grill master to cook your skewers a little away from where the meat is sizzling, and enjoy a nice, hot, grilled dish.
If you’re adding tofu, I’d recommend pressing the tofu dry and baking it before adding it to your skewers. This will take a lot of the water content out and make the tofu firmer and meatier.
Is it a barbecue without some fresh fruit? I’ve never known one without. Luckily for vegans, fruit salad is already vegan for a lot of people. Plus, having some crunchy melons and berries bursting with juices is a great refreshing option among the dense meats and mayo-slathered sides common in a cookout.
To freshen up your fruit salad even more, mix in some mint.
Maybe you’d prefer to drink your fruits? This summery drink is a syrupy mix of fruits and wine. If you want an alcohol-free experience, try using grape juice instead. Otherwise, this is a great non-beer option for a pleasant adult get-together.
Try this simple recipe. Keep in mind, sangria is a very forgiving drink. Experiment with different fruits and wines until you get something you really love.
At my gatherings, we always have plenty of cornbread or corn muffins to satisfy us. People in other places might prefer a nice bread roll. Regardless, these are easy dishes to veganize, and your omnivorous friends and family are sure to approve.
There are a lot of salads at a barbecue, from potato salad to coleslaw to chicken salad, all drenched in a mix of mayo and some other spices. Your best bet is to bring a vinegar-based pasta salad with a nice blend of crisp, crunchy vegetables. It’s a little lighter, which helps balance out all the heavier dishes, but still has substance.
A great dessert is the perfect way to end the meal. While you could go with a kiddie-style ice pop (or freeze pop, popsicle, ice lolly, otter pop, etc…), people go crazy for a good cobbler. And it’s fairly simple, reheats well, and can be paired with a delicious soy whipped topping or some vegan ice cream.
... And Many More!
The truth is that the possibilities are endless. What really matters isn't necessarily the food at the barbecue; it's the people. If you bring something that you delight in, chances are that you'll find that others enjoy it, too.