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6 Tips for Eating Plant-Based at a Cookout

It’s officially time for cookout season! And, there’s really nothing better than getting together with friends and neighbors to celebrate summer and maybe light a few sparklers (of course, six feet away from each other). But, if you’re trying to eat more plant-based, it might be tough to find things to eat at a traditional cookout, where foods might include burgers and brats, mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw. It’s easy enough to make most of these plant-based, but could be a problem if your host isn’t vegan. 

Here’s six tips on eating plant-based at your next cookout!

  1. Make sure your host knows you’re trying to eat plant-based: If your host doesn’t know you’re going plant-based, how can you expect them to build a menu for you?! It might be a bit of an awkward conversation, especially if it’s your judgemental Aunt Karen hosting the party. Hopefully, though, your aunt isn’t a Karen and will be supportive of your choice. Even if you’re wary of talking to the host and don’t want to be burdensome, remember that the host invited you to the party. They want you there, and they want you to be comfortable, and that includes having food there that you can eat. Just be considerate about it: tell your host as soon as you RSVP to the cookout, giving him or her as much time to prepare as possible.

  2. Offer to help your host by bringing a dish: If it’s a potluck, then you’re already expected to bring something. Consider bringing a dish that will be really popular and expected, like a mac and cheese or potato salad. Then, you know there’ll be something delicious there (other than a salad) for you to eat. Plus, if your dish is truly delish, you’ll surprise everyone by revealing it’s vegan, and maybe help your family develop an interest in living a plant-based life.

  3. Consider bringing your own protein: If you know your party is going to be full of carnivores and protein options will be limited for you, consider bringing your own burgers or brats. My favorite plant-based proteins are Earth Grown’s Chickenless Patties and Earth Grown’s Meatless Italian Sausage from Aldi (my literal favorite place on Earth). When you talk to your host, it would be polite to offer to bring it, since your host will have a million things to worry about on the day of the actual cookout.

  4. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat non-vegan food: If you get to the party and your cousin made their famous dip, the one with tons of mayo and bacon bits, and you just can’t resist having a chip’s worth: don’t stress! Especially if you’re transitioning to being more plant-based, you’re going to have moments where you eat non-plant-based foods. Don’t beat yourself up mentally and ruin your experience with friends and family. Don’t feel like a failure. Instead, fully enjoy your chip and dip, and then when you get home, research how to make your own version of your cousin’s dish, except with veganaise and mushroom bacon

  5. Try not to let your new diet dominate the conversation: If another cookout guest asks you why you’re vegan, of course tell them why (hopefully, you have a good reason). But, there are lots of other cool, amazing things for you to talk about with your friends and family, especially in the time of covid. You can discuss what projects you’ve worked on while quarantining, new recipes you tried out, any hikes or walks you've taken. It’s easy to let veganism dominate the conversation, especially if you make it obvious to others that you’re avoiding meat. But, talking nonstop about your new diet will probably leave you exhausted (especially if you have trolls in your family), and won’t give you a chance to talk about any of the other cool things you’ve been doing.

  6. Don’t get on a high horse: Hopefully you aren’t judgemental in general, but just in case you are, don’t judge your relatives for what they’re eating. In the same way you hope not to have comments thrown at you about eating rabbit food, your Uncle Jerry doesn’t want to hear about how pigs have feelings, no matter how much bacon he’s putting on his burger. Judging others eating meat around you is a great way to make sure you don’t convert anyone to eating plant-based at a cookout, and will probably keep you off the guest list for future parties. 

What has your experience been going plant-based? Do you have any tips to share with our team? Comment below and share your thoughts!

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