As A Vegan, What DO You Eat At A Barbecue?

Veggie BBQ Rules! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 lostintheredwoods, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

Oh dear.

I have to confess, I’m a total Debbie Downer when it comes to barbecues.

I think they’re stupid.

Yes, I’m completely aware I’m alone in this.

My feelings may have something to do with the fact that, like a lot of Londoners I live in a small flat with, oooh, approximately two square feet of garden. Pretty much every sunny summer weekend, neighbours (whose gardens are no bigger than mine) seem to think it’s a great idea to squeeze lots of friends into their garden and fire up the barbie.

My problem with this is as follows:

I don’t like my laundry on the washing line to end up stinking of smoke from burning pig.

If I’m sitting in my garden, trying to enjoy the delicate scent of the orange blossom tree, I’m not keen on instead choking on smoke from burning cow/pig/lamb.

Even if I’m indoors with the windows open (cuz you WANT them open on a sunny day) I still get smoked out – because wouldn’t you know, the wind always seems to be blowing in the direction of my house on these days. Do these people check which way the wind is blowing before starting? Would they even have the barbecue if they got blowback into their house?

At a previous address (on a street that had similarly small gardens), I once approached neighbours and asked them nicely if they would mind extinguishing their barbecue as my house was getting full of smoke. They suggested I close the windows.

I won’t tell you what I did then, but it may have involved a garden hose 🙂

I also hate the whole ‘women cook in the kitchen but men cook on the barbecue’ BS too. Wtf is THAT about?

And why does a sunny day equate cooking outside?

I get that it’s absolutely lovely eating outside; I try and do this as often as possible, but why not cook in the kitchen and bring the food outside? Or go on a freaking picnic?


And don’t even get me started on barbecues’ even more evil cousin – the hog roast!

No really, DON’T.


OK. I feel better now.

Of course, when I think about it rationally, I realise the problem is inconsiderate arseholes, not barbecues.

I’m sure you have a MUCH healthier relationship to barbecues than I do, so what can you eat at these traditionally meat-based fests if you are vegan? Do you have to avoid them altogether?

The good news is that no, you don’t. Barbecues are as much for you as they are for the most rabid meat-eater.

Assuming you or your barbecue host have an APPROPRIATE.SIZED.GARDEN, what goodies can you enjoy grilled outside?

Firstly, you should know  that barbecues are potentially MORE fun for you, as in my barbecue experience, meat-eaters tend to only grill about three types of meat, and maybe have potato salad or coleslaw as a side (yes, the nineties probably WAS the last time I went to a barbecue!) Whereas, pretty much the entire plant world and a gazillion permutations of it are open to you.

Easy, practical, no brainers are as follows:

Barbecue from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Lablascovegmenu, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Corn – Delicious grilled as it is, or slather on a marinade of your choice (chilli lime for example)  before wrapping it in foil and putting it on the grill

Portobello or field mushrooms – Just brush with olive oil and season before grilling.

Veg skewers – (See header pic) Use chunks of red, green, yellow pepper, baby plum tomatoes, whole chestnut mushrooms, squares of red onions, thick slices of yellow and green courgettes (zucchini). Intersperse veg with chunks of firm tofu or seitan if you desire a meaty element.

Dip your veg and tofu chunks in a mixture of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tspn basil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.  Thread the skewer with the veg and grill.

world's best-tasting grilled eggplant from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 woodleywonderworks, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio



Aubergine (eggplant) – Marinade sliced aubergine in a simple Teriyaki sauce (soy sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil and some crushed garlic and ginger) for an hour or so, then throw on the grill.




Grilled sweet potato spears with maple syrup and mustard glaze #food from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Steven Depolo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Sweet potatoes – Either chop them into thick wedges, or wrap them in foil and throw them on the barbecue. How ever you’re eating them; my favourite flavours for sweet potatoes are salt, paprika and garlic powder (mix equal measures of the paprika and garlic in a bowl). Spray wedges with oil, salt generously and sprinkle the paprika/garlic mix on top.

For foil wrapped potatoes; when they’re cooked add some vegan margarine, salt generously and fork in some paprika/garlic mix.


Otherwise: I’ve picked out what I consider to be the best of the best plant-based BBQ recipes (both mains AND great BBQ sides) on the internet for you.


50 mouth-watering ideas are right here.

23 more are here.

21 more right here.

17 slightly simpler, but no less delicious ideas are here.

You can even grill avocados! This was news to me; I just learned that right now. And fruit!! Did you know that? I didn’t. Did you see the caramelised grilled peaches?

Wow. I’m literally just learning what I’ve been missing out on!

You know, looking at all these recipes as I’m compiling this post, I am (very unexpectedly I might add!) starting to feel a nascent desire to have a barbecue! Not in my garden of course, I’m not a douche, but maybe in a park somewhere with lots of space. I’m grinning broadly as I’m writing this, because I thought I’d be a ‘cue hater for life. It’s amazing what food pictures can do. I love learning while I’m writing!


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