Many think of barbecue as hearty, filling slabs of juicy meat and a few carb-loaded side dishes. We are definitely of the meat-variety, and although we do not shy away from those kinds of feasts, we also know that the stomach and heart can't always handle all that protein. So give your body a refreshing and refueling break, without having to give up grilling. Check out what we put together for your next plant-based barbecue:
But wait, before we give you the goods, let me tell you a little bit about why such a large part of the population is edging towards plant-based and vegan grilling.
Not only is a plant-based diet better for your health, lowers the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but according to some studies it can also be the cure to Climate Change! Save the planet and eat well too, why not?
It is no mystery that the Western world eats a far heavier meat-focused diet than the rest of the world, but if we continue to push boundaries within our ecosystem we rise risk climate change caused by polluted bodies of water, and oxygen-depleted forests and oceans. So we are not saying to cut out all the thick, juicy steaks, but maybe cut it down to once a week...
But before you go full plant-based lets get a few things clear:
Plant-Based Diets Are Not Identical To Veganism
Plant-based diets main focus is whole foods, so nothing processed. Unlike vegans they concentrate their efforts on minimal sugar and oil intake (not hard since whole, natural and organic foods won't have those ingredients). So not only are you living off the fruits of the Earth, but you're healthy as can be. Vegans also eliminate all animal products, including dairy, eggs, meat etc. but they do not restrict calories, fats or sugars.
Vegetarians On The Other Hand...
Only restrict meats, including fish, (if you still want to cedar plank grill a salmon, then go pescatarian).
Similarities between the three are that if done correctly you will need to find alternatives to protein. The great thing about being a meat-eater is you're probably constantly protein-packing those dinners. For plant-based eaters, vegans and vegetarians, your protein intake can and will greatly suffer. So kick up the cooking a notch and add more beans, nuts, lentils and soy (the closest thing to meat protein) to your diet. *Note: Overdoing it on the soy can also be a concern - studies show that the estrogen-like compounds in soy and soy products can cause mild stomach irritation and infertility.
Now that we have the terminology and the benefits out of the way lets get to grilling!
The best options for a Veggie-Q are cheese - haloumi is on the rise folks - fruits, vegetables, breads and tofu! Ah tofu, the tricky meat-substitute, but not plant-based. Keep in mind that most meat-substitutes and soy products are made with a much lower fat content than regular meat, in this case you will want to grease up your grill extra well to avoid stickiness.
Start with a large salad, something simple like Caesar can be easily elevated when those crispy fresh leaves are grilled while still attached to the head and left marked. Add the croutons, the cheese, the dressing (remember vegans or plant-based will need dairy-free) and maybe some chickpeas for even more elevation.
Next add in some hearty and healthy fats like avocado turned guacamole, or sweet potato and yams turned to fries with a homemade dairy-free aoili made out of soaked cashews and lemon juice for creaminess.
Fiery side dishes: Corn salsa and grilled pita bread, Tabouli, Garlic Potatoes, Grilled pineapples.
Get a good char on the corn before taking it off the cob, add in some jalapenos, sliced grilled tomatoes and onions and it's a party.
For Vegetarians and Vegans you can buy meatless hot dogs and meat-substitute hamburger - usually the casting is made of cellulose or other plant based ingredients and the filling is soy protein, rice or chickpeas. The new trend among fast-food chains are meatless burgers, which you can now buy and grill at home and are said to taste and be textured the same as a regular burger. Try it out and let us know. These burgers are informally made of pea protein, rice protein, beet juice extract, and soy protein isolate. You could even go bread-less and use grilled portobello mushrooms for buns - but maybe we won't push it.
According to Beyond Meat:
"Besides the nutritional benefits of this swap, we know that Beyond Burgers tend to be better for the environment. According to the company, the Beyond Burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land, nearly 50% less energy, plus emits 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than producing a quarter-pound U.S. beef burger."
Another high protein, but reduced fat option: Bean Salad! with extra virgin olive oil and oregano - easy.
If you haven't tried jack fruit yet, this is a great option for protein-packing and getting that juicy meat flavour. It's a fruit, but it looks like a cross between a massive watermelon and has a pineapple outer texture, but the inside - once shredded, looks identical to meat. It makes for a delicious "pulled pork".
Lastly, don't give up Wednesday wing night, opt for cauliflower wings. The trick to cook the cauliflower just long enough to get a little tender, leaving just enough crunch then throw them in a pan and smother them buffalo chicken hot sauce and mix in a little brown sugar. And why not just treat yourself to some blue cheese dipping sauce.