I'd like to share some tips for summer vegan eating - whether at your place or a friend's.
Meat intolerance is a very real affliction, comparable to lactose intolerance. The symptoms are very similar - cramping, nausea, diarrhea - but can vary with each person. My mission, when eating out, sometimes isn't "spreading the word of veganism" but protecting myself from being sick. At the family BBQ, I'm not really in the mood to talk about confinement crates; I just don't want to be stuck in the bathroom or laid out in the guest room for the rest of the party!
Next weekend, you may be invited to a friend's house for a BBQ, or maybe you are going to host a BBQ of your own, but it's important to keep a few points in mind for either scenario.
1. Host Your Own BBQ.
To avoid any meat or meat-related incidents, it can be easier to host your own party. Every dish can be vegan, all questions avoided. My attitude is usually: I respect your choices, but my house is a vegetarian household, please respect our space. We purchased a grill 2 years ago, and no meat has touched my "part" of it. My husband uses two separate grilling surfaces - one for my veggies, and one for his meats - and never the twain shall meet. He also does not cook veggies & meat at the same time. We've discovered that even the "fatty" smoke & steam can infect the veggies.
When invited to someone's BBQ, it's always wise to bring your own veggies. I've found that many of my friends think that grilled veggies are "too plain" and will want to marinate them "for you". Unfortunately, they don't always read labels and even the most innocent of marinades (think: Italian dressing) include cheese. Their hearts are in the right place, but label-reading isn't always high up on their agenda.3. Bring Your Own Grill Pan.
People will tell you they have a veggie grill pan, but it's been known to happen that they have used it to grill fish. Fish ≠ vegetarian, sometimes people forget that. Bring your own grill pan and politely insist upon using it yourself. It's ok to do your own cooking, you know.4. Bring Your Own Side Dishes.
Bring enough for everyone, but this is an easy way to slip some vegan sides (like baked beans or cole slaw) into the mix without having to tell people they're vegan! As far as they know, the only "scary vegan food" is the zucchini & eggplant you're roasting in that weird pan just like the one they have in their cupboard.5. Remember:
No grill is clean ever enough to prevent you from getting sick. Doesn't matter how many times it's been scraped or burned, there will always be fat, grease & bits of meat clinging to the grill. If you can't use a grill pan, wrap your veggies in a tin foil pouch. This is especially important if you're going to a park or picnic area that has grills there.6. Be Polite At All Times!
Being an ambassador for veg*nism isn't always your goal when you step out your door. Sometimes life is about sharing good times with friends & family without the burden of defending yourself. Eat before you go if you are unsure of how your host will react to your taking charge of your own food.
It's important to not make someone feel that they are ignoring your needs in their own home. Most people want to make sure their friends are happy. Food is central to most cultures - sharing food is an important act, NEVER underestimate the power of breaking bread.