For vegans, “let’s fire up the grill!” can be a pretty alienating sentiment. I mean, summer BBQs typically feature all the animal products (think hot dogs topped with beef chili and shredded cheese).
Luckily for my fellow plant-eaters and I, though, that’s starting to change. The $939 million plant-based meat market has grown by an astounding 38 percent over the last two years, according to The Good Food Institute. And demand for products made from meat may fall by up to 50 percent in the next 10 years, a recent RethinkX report suggests.
The bottom line: Vegan barbecue recipes might soon be in-demand.
Of course, your best bet is always to swap that steak for whole plant foods, like a hearty slab of grilled cauliflower topped with herbs, spices, and cashews–not a mock beef alternative.
While plant-based meat alternatives are touted as great ways to transition away from eating meat (and reduce your carbon footprint!), they’re not your best bet for long-term health, says Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, dietitian and founder of Essence Nutrition. (Some experts question the health implications of consuming a lot of soy isolates, which are commonly used in plant-based meat alternatives. Whole soy is a-okay, though.)
Auslander Moreno recommends filling your picnic table with nourishing recipes, like BBQ tempeh (which is made of probiotic-rich fermented soybeans that are high in fiber and protein), homemade veggie burgers loaded with ingredients like beans, beets, tahini, carrots and quinoa, and sides like roasted sweet potatoes, salads, and dips like hummus and guac.
From fun apps to grillable mains and summery desserts, you’ll be counting down the days until you get to whip up these plant-based dishes for your next BBQ.
Mayo and bacon often make otherwise superfood-rich salads off-the-table at barbecues. This vegan take offers healthy fats and crunch from cashews and sunflower seeds, plus a whole lot of from broccoli, cranberries, and cilantro.
Per serving: 269 calories, 18 g fat (4 g saturated), 24 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 617 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein
Fun fact: Avocados get buttery when you heat them up. Take advantage of the grill and get your guests in on this high-fiber, low-sodium goodness.
Per serving: 206 calories, 14 g fat (3 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 13 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 5 g protein
No summer cookout is complete without a vat of sugary-sweet baked beans. This version includes pinto, kidney, and northern beans, doused in a tangy sauce that complements any main dish.
Per serving: 156 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 30 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 382 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 8 g protein
BBQs are all about getting a little messy, and there’s no better way to do that than with these garlicky, saucy sandwiches.
Per serving: 289 calories, 8 g fat (0 g saturated), 53 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 782 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 7 g protein
Vegans catch a lot of flack for eating “just salad,” but even meat-eaters will get on-board after catching a whiff of this fragrant, summer-friendly side dish.
Per serving: 78 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated), 13 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein
Cauliflower steaks are hot right now because of their satisfying texture and ability to soak up flavor. (Make extra of the Romesco sauce on these to put on other meals.)
Per serving: 111 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 10 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 251 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 5 g protein
Smoky flavor from the BBQ sauce, cumin, and chili powder make these veggie-packed patties the vegan burger to end all burgers.
Per serving: 289 calories, 19 g fat (2 g saturated), 47 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 433 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 12 g protein
Rice and beans is a plant-based staple because it’s darn cheap and covers most of your nutrient bases. The Latin flavors of this dish pair perfectly with summertime mojitos.
Per serving: 143 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 322 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 7 g protein
Cauliflower is to steak what portobello mushrooms are to burgers. The textures just work. Slap these marinated ‘shrooms on the grill, load up your bun, and prepare to be converted.
Per serving: 295 calories, 13 g fat (1 g saturated), 30 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 594 mg sodium, 11 g fiber, 21 g protein
Meat eaters shouldn’t get all the cheese board fun. These plant-based finger foods are the perfect way to keep guests satisfied while you fire up the grill.
Per serving: 251 calories, 22 g fat (4 g saturated), 15 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 167 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein
You don’t have to say goodbye to the incredible flavors of Caribbean cuisine just because you’re avoiding meat. These protein- and veg-packed lettuce wraps will spice up any summer cookout.
Per serving: 175 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 15 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 522 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 12 g protein
Forget the bottled stuff–DIY-ing a BBQ sauce (complete with a surprising Asian flair and hint of spice) is the quickest way to liven up your barbecue scene, vegan-style.
Per serving: 16 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 4 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 124 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein
Whether as a side or a base for grilled (plant-based) protein and veggies, this Tex-Mex cauliflower rice is a great way to go low on carbs during without sacrificing flavor this summer.
Per serving: 113 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 83 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein
Dreading doing post-cookout clean-up? Cook your veggies on a stick.
Per serving: 108 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 25 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 11 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
Jazz sweet potatoes up with black beans, brown rice, and a homemade rustic salsa, and you’ve got a fiesta-worthy vegan meal.
Per serving: 388 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 67 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 1,183 mg sodium, 16 g fiber, 11 g protein
This (air)fried chickpea falafel is packed with Middle Eastern spices and sure to be a crowd-pleaser at even the most meat-heavy BBQs.
Per serving: 64 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 227 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Mix your fave plant-based protein with vegan mayo, pecans, apples, and onion for this vegan version of the cookout classic.
Per serving: 237 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 227 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 11 g protein
No need to trick your guests into eating these. Lentils lend themselves well to vegan patties, thanks to their hearty texture and neutral (somewhat meat-like) color.
Per serving: 268 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 42 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 679 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 10 g protein
Doused in a creamy cashew sauce with a hint of spice, this vegan take on street corn takes your BBQ to the next level.
Per serving: 176 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 22 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 37 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
This bold and zesty dish is a perfect dip or side for a casual backyard affair.
Per serving: 233 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 30 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 8 g protein
From nachos to chopped veggies, this vegan dip (which adds an incredible burst of flavor, protein, and fiber) feels at home in any barbecue spread.
Per serving: 216 calories, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 332 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein
Missing pulled pork sandwiches? This vegan take is juicy and savory.
Per serving: 431 calories, 14 g fat (3 g saturated), 65 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 1,000 mg sodium, 16 g fiber, 12 g protein
Nothing says summer like s’mores, and these vegan marshmallow treats are hella nostalgic.
Per serving: 439 calories, 27 g fat (16 g saturated), 48 g carbs, 28 g sugar, 91 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein
No cookout is complete without this star side dish. All it takes is vegan mayo, Dijon and whole-grain mustards, some chopped veggies, and cubed potatoes.
Per serving: 185 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 21 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 258 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein
This three all-star BBQ sides into one vegan-friendly meal.
Per serving: 764 calories, 17 g fat (3 g saturated), 124 g carbs, 29 g sugar, 934 mg sodium, 19 g fiber, 25 g protein
Hearty eggplant stands up well to the flame of a grill, making this punchy dish a perfect plant-based main.
Per serving: 73 calories, 4 g fat (3 g saturated), 9 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 660 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein
Whether you can’t decide which fruit to serve or are tired of fruit salad, this sweet and creamy pizza is a trusty summer staple.
Per serving: 388 calories, 27 g fat (15 g saturated), 37 g carbs, 22 g sugar, 201 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 5 g protein
There’s no better way to top off a barbecue than with this palate-cleansing mojito-inspired sorbet.
Per serving: 123 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 22 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein
The best types of salads are hands-down pasta salads. Keep this one vegan using avocado instead of feta.
Per serving: 375 calories, 21 g fat (4 g saturated), 39 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 448 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 11 g protein
With this flavorful, fiber-rich burger, you’ll think you’re barbecuing on a beach in the Mediterranean.
Per serving: 225 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 36 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 433 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 10 g protein