Eating Vegan at Cookouts

It's that time of year again! Fourth of July officially kicks off the season of sticky weather, beaches, coolers and firing up the grill.  I don't know about other vegans, but after 3 years, I still feel awkward at cookouts. I've accepted that I will probably never be 100% comfortable being vegan in social settings.

 Picture from non-vegan cookout I went to last year

Picture from non-vegan cookout I went to last year

With that said, it does get a little easier to navigate. Here are a few tips to help you at the next cookout... 

*Eat before you go-This is a must if you're just starting out in a vegan lifestyle.  Your aunt's macaroni and cheese & grandmother's potato salad will be too tempting on an empty stomach.

*Eat after you leave-I'm the queen of hitting up Chipotle on the way home from any social event. You can also stash nuts, fruit, and seeds in your car to hold you over until you get home.

*Attack the fruit & vegetable tray-The potato salad, collard greens, pasta salad (usually has meat & cheese) and all the desserts at the cookout are likely not vegan. Fortunately, every cookout I've ever been to has a fruit and/or vegetable tray. I don't consider this a meal but it will likely hold you over until you leave...especially if you ate before getting there. Also, snacking on fruit and vegetables helps with the uncomfortable feeling of not eating while everyone is.

*Bring a side dish or two -I've done this a few times and it usually goes pretty well. It's also a great conversation starter.  Bring a vegetable dish or make a fruit platter. You can also bring vegan hotdogs or hamburgers and ask the host to toss them on the grill for you. Don't forget to bring a few to share because some may be curious about how they taste.  Check back in tomorrow for a post with some summer vegan side dish ideas.

*Don't be shy-If you bring a dish, use this as an opportunity to educate your family on why you made the shift to a vegan diet.  Don't preach! Just chat with those who want to know more (and people will) in the most loving way possible. Try not to get defensive when someone has a sly comment. It happens! *Sigh* Smile and enjoy your day.

*Try to see social events as an opportunity to connect...NOT eat-This is one that I'm working on right now.  For most of us, cookouts are just as much about the food than spending time with family and friends.  Try to see these occasions as being more about connecting with family and friends and less about the food.  I know this is easier said than done but with practice is should become a little better.

I had a vegan cookout with one of my friends last year. Check out the post and video here.