It's that time of year again! Are you ready for sticky weather, beaches and going to every cookout looking like this....
.....because nothing on the table is vegan?
It's crazy how once you go vegan you realize just how much meat, dairy & eggs are in so many dishes while eating out.
I don't know about you, but after being vegan since 2010, I still feel awkward at cookouts.
I've accepted that I will probably never be 100% comfortable being vegan in social settings.
With that said, it does get a lot easier to navigate. You will get used to the awkwardness. lol
Here are 6 tips for your summer of cookouts...
*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, hamburgers, pasta salad (my fam usually has meat & cheese in theirs) 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. Check out the recipes at the bottom of the post for ideas. Bring some vegan hotdogs (even the produce dept of the most basic grocery stores are starting to sell these) or veggie burgers and ask the host to toss them on the grill for you. Don't forget to bring a few extra to share because some may be curious about how they taste.
*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 and fun 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 still working on. 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 it will get better.
Try some of these recipes:
These days I'm so blessed because most of my family members are accommodating when it comes to cookouts. They go above and beyond to make sure there's a meal for me (especially my parents)...things will get better. I promise. :-)