This Fourth of July, declare your independence from artery-clogging cheeseburgers, inhumane hot dogs, and carcinogenic chicken and have a healthy, humane vegan cookout. Charred meats can form cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and undercooked meats can cause food poisoning—and both cause animal suffering—so it’s better to cook up something kind and healthy, such as marinated vegetable kabobs, veggie burgers, or vegan barbecued chicken.
Vegetables and mock meats, such as Gardein’s The Ultimate Beefless Burger, Beyond Meat’s Chicken-Free Strips, and Tofurky’s Gourmet Sausages, taste great on the grill, and they’re much better for you and your guests because they’re cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat. They also don’t form harmful carcinogens, even when the “chef” barbecues them beyond recognition. But don’t panic, because PETA has some helpful grilling tips and recipes to ensure that won’t happen. Whether you are a longtime vegan or are just trying to eat more meat-free meals, remember the following simple tips for a terrific cookout:
- Baste veggie burgers with barbecue sauce before grilling them in order to keep them moist and add zesty flavor. (Many store-bought brands of barbecue sauce are vegetarian.) Just be sure not to overheat them. Since mock meats are precooked, you need to grill them only for a few minutes.
- Try grilling corn on the cob, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, potatoes, onions, pineapples, mangos, bell peppers, eggplant, asparagus, and marinated tofu-vegetable kebabs. Roasting fruits and vegetables over coals caramelizes their natural sugars and brings out their flavor. Cut the vegetables the same size so that they cook evenly, and use a wire-mesh grilling screen so that soft foods won’t fall into the fire.
- Smart Dogs, Tofu Pups, Not Dogs, and other vegetarian hot dogs tend to dry out over an open flame, but they are delicious when boiled or fried and served with vegetarian baked beans or topped with chili non carne. Tofurky’s tasty vegan sausages are great when grilled (for just a couple minutes) and topped with roasted peppers and onions or your favorite condiments.
It’s easy to banish beef and other animal-based foods from your barbecue, especially if you’re grilling store-bought mock meats. And no cookout is complete without creamy vegan potato salad, fresh berries, and a big wedge of watermelon. Here are some fun vegan recipes to help you have a blast this Fourth of July:
Grilled Garlic-Herb Corn
1 cup vegan margarine, softened (try Earth Balance brand)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 Tbsp. minced basil
1 Tbsp. minced chives
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 ears corn, husked
- In a small container, combine the vegan margarine, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, chives, and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Spread the herbed margarine over the corn, covering completely. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning often, until cooked thoroughly.
Makes 6 servings
Note: For an extra kick, mix 1/4 teaspoonful of cayenne pepper into the herbed margarine.
- Liquify the watermelon in a blender or food processor.
- Pour the liquid watermelon into 1 or 2 glasses. Add the lemon juice, drop in some ice cubes, and top with the mint.
- Drink up!
Makes 1 to 2 servings
Creamy Dill Potato Salad
3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 cup vegan mayonnaise (try Vegenaise)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1–2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover completely. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until just tender but not falling apart.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and let cool.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut the cooled potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add them to the bowl, stirring carefully until coated.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
‘Spring Into Summer’ Pasta Salad
8 oz. vegan spiral pasta
1 cup vegan Italian dressing
Assorted chopped vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, red onions, red bell peppers, carrots, green olives, grape tomatoes, etc.)
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Strain and let cool.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Chill in the refrigerator and serve cold.
Makes 8 servings
Key Lime ‘Cheesecake’
2 pkgs. Tofutti plain cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup key lime juice
2 tsp. lime zest (grated rind of lime)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 9-in. graham cracker crust
Kiwis and/or strawberries, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the “cream cheese,” sugar, vanilla, lime juice, zest, and cornstarch in a blender and mix until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Place the filled pie shell on a cookie sheet (the pie tends to boil over during cooking). Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown.
- Remove and let set until cool to the touch, then chill in the fridge overnight.
- Top with sliced kiwis, strawberries, or both.
Makes 6 to 8 servings