That time of year has come. Swimming pool days, sunburns, fireworks, and all things red, white, and blue. As vegans, we also can’t forget that the 4th of July means BBQs, hot dogs, hamburgers, and mac and cheese. Lots of mac and cheese. I’ve been plant-based for four years now, which means four years of finding ways to avoid the meat but also bring some vegan options to the table. So, my friends, do not let fear and food anxiety consume you, but instead, read this survival guide on how to get through the 4th of July as a vegan.
Yes, this very well means bring your own beer, buttt it also can mean bring your own Beyond Meat. Or meat alternative. I love the Beyond Burgers and have even got some of my non-vegan friends hooked on them too. They look like meat. They taste like meat. And can be grilled the same way as meat. If you are attending a BBQ, pick up a few packs of these at your local Whole Foods (About $6 for two burgers) and have your friend put them on the grill for you. Easy. You can also bring extra to share and have your friends taste test them as well (shameless vegan plug, but you know). This is a super great way to start up a conversation and avoid the awkwardness that sometimes comes with being vegan. You bring your own burger-look-a-like and there are no questions asked. Well, maybe a few about how they taste so dang good.
If you want a cheaper option to bring, Aldi also has some chickenless patties that look exactly like the real deal. They also have some great veggie burger options.
2. More of a hot dog person? No worries, I got you covered
Three words: Lightlife Hot Dogs. They are the best. They look identical to regular hot dogs. And I swear to you, they taste the exact same. You can buy a 16 pack at Costco of the jumbo version for about $5.50, so very affordable. They also are sold at Trader Joe’s and most grocery stores. This brand is also incredible for deli meats, in case you are packing a 4th of July picnic instead. Everything is vegan, and everything is delicious. I will swear by this brand till the day I die. Again, just bring them to your BBQ, put them on the grill, and you are good to go.
3. Bring your own dish
This was always my biggest worry when attending any kind of party or big buffet-style gathering. I remember showing up at 4th of July parties, graduation parties, and Thanksgiving meals with there being nothing to eat (first-year plant-based mistakes, it’s a learning process). My biggest advice for this would be to bring your own dish. Most parties like these are that style anyways, people bring a dish and there’s a whole potluck-style buffet going on. My mom would always make a big salad with lots of veggies in it for us to eat. Some other recommendations from my blog: my “Butternut Squash Vegan Mac-and-Cheese” is another awesome dish to bring. I also recommend Kale Junkie’s “Life Changing Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies” (can be made vegan by substituting a flax egg) or Rachael’s Good Eats “Healthy Twix Bars.” I have made both for my family and friends before, and both have been a hit. Another awesome and simple dish idea: Red, White, and Blue Fruit Platter. Strawberries/ Watermelon, Banana, and Blueberries.
4. Don’t be afraid to host your own party
Always been the go to 4th of July party thrower? And now that you’re vegan, you’re worried about what to serve? To be honest, I think it’s just a go with the flow and don’t overthink it kinda thing. If you don’t want to serve any meat or cheese, then don’t. That’s not forcing your lifestyle onto others, it’s simply just staying true to your values. And if you do want to give people non-vegan options? Great. No stress. You can offer it yourself or offer them to bring their own dishes.
Again, being vegan is a great thing, but it’s also not just strictly black and white. I promise you won’t be condemned for throwing a 4th of July party that served meat and dairy options. However, it’s also an awesome chance to let people explore veganism that wouldn’t really have the opportunity to otherwise. Before I went vegan, I honestly thought vegans ate fruit and vegetables and nothing else. Definitely not the case, as I now know after four years. So, if you do want to do an all-vegan BBQ, that’s great! Honestly, you don’t have to advertise it that way either. Just cook what you want and let people enjoy it. Worst comes to worst, there’s always pizza that can be ordered.
Here are some awesome vegan recipe ideas for a vegan 4th of July BBQ:
- Jackfruit Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Honestly, these are amazing and jackfruit is such a great substitute for pulled pork)
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- Beyond Burgers
- Sweet Potato Fries (Easy to make in a big batch and can be put out in a serving bowl for people to snack on.)
- Lightlife Veggie Hot Dogs
- Fruit Bowl
- Build Your Own Taco Bar (Using Lightlife meat crumbles or Beyond meat crumbles, black beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, salsa, corn, etc)
- Vegan Cookie Dough (My Aunt always used to have edible cookie dough at her 4th of July parties – here’s a vegan recipe for it)
- Strawberry Hazelnut Bites (Can be turned into Cake Pops)
- Healthy Twix Bars
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Cake
5. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!!
Oftentimes we can get so wrapped up in worrying about the little things, that we forget to enjoy the moment. Trust me, I am the master at this. Being vegan is awesome, but it shouldn’t take you away from enjoying holidays and parties and BBQs. Everyone has diet issues and not everyone likes all foods. It’s ok to bring vegan burgers to substitute regular ones. Don’t make a big deal of it. It’s ok to host a party your own way. People won’t criticize you for everything that you do. And if they do make snarky comments, that’s on them, not you.
So I hope you all have a wonderful holiday week and weekend! I hope this little survival guide helps some of you survive your first (or tenth) 4th of July as a vegan!