Summer time: late nights, cool pools, and my favorite, the cookouts! Well, at least they used to be. Being the only vegan at the BBQ has proven to be difficult, and if you let it, it’s not even enjoyable to take the time to attend. As a new vegan, the journey can become very difficult when you are around people who do not understand your new lifestyle, nor they do not accept it. It is even more difficult when those people are your family members and people you love. It also doesn’t help when the event centers around the animal-based eating. The event could prove to be overwhelming and may even push some to quit their vegan journey.

It doesn’t have to be this way! I recently attended a family barbecue in August, though this summer I tended to avoid this type of get-together. The barbecue started as a party to celebrate summer anniversaries, birthdays, and a new wedding engagement. We ended up being surprised when my cousin announced that she and her husband are expecting! Needless to say, this was a family event I could not miss and I was determined to make this a positive experience. My cousin asked everyone to prepare at least two food items to share. I decided to make the BEST Cauliflower Hot Wings and vegan brownie bites. I also took frozen Boca burgers and vegan-safe hamburger buns to put on the grill.

My food was a hit! Of course, I had a few family members that I found enjoying my dishes, but immediately scrunched their face when I told them it was vegan. I had a lot of family members that were pleasantly surprised by the flavors! We shared food and drink, told childhood/family stories, and ended the night with some karaoke! It was great!

Though this experience went very well, I have had my share of group meals that ended with me feeling disgusted, disconnected, and most of all hungry. I have created few tips that you should keep in mind when attend food events with family and friends who may not accept your decision. You have to remember that your actions will not only directly affect your mood and happiness, but it will affect those around you and their view on veganism. so, here are 5 tips!

Bring something

Bring enough to share and turn people on to the vegan goodness. If you can’t cook, you can always pick something up from a local veg-friendly restaurant. Because the last thing we need is you turning people away from veganism because you can’t season your food. Bring mock foods that mimic cook-out food, like vegan burgers to put on the grill, cauliflower hot wings, vegan desserts, or alcoholic drinks. You are not going to intrigue anyone by bringing a salad and quinoa to the cookout! (If you really want to take salad and quinoa, I won’t stop you)

Eat something before you go

When you are at the event, you probably won’t get to eat enough to make you full and, if you do have a full plate, you will have a hard time eating it while people ask you about your vegan diet and where do you get protein.

Never start the vegan conversation, but be prepared to finish it.

Vegan activism can take place even when you are just existing. People are watching you and you can promote veganism by showing people just how easy veganism is. You don’t need to preach at anybody or shame anyone for their decisions. Wrong place and wrong time. Just enjoy yourself and answer questions you may be asked. But remember, no matter where you go, there will always be one person who wants to shame or question your vegan lifestyle. First, know that this is usually done out of good intentions. Our family and friends want to make sure we are healthy and safe. Even if they have never been so concerned with our health before going vegan… If this happens, make sure you know the facts to respond. A wonderful aspect of veganism is that it’s backed by science. You’ve probably watched a ton of documentaries and spent time reading blogs and watching vegan YouTube channels. If this person won’t back off, sometimes it’s smart to just move on. Set another time to have that discussion.

Have a good time! Distract yourself!

The most important tip is to have a good time. A lot of times if you set your mind to enjoy yourself you will. 

Don’t give up or in!

You may really be tested in this situation and as the only vegan, you may think, “Why am I doing this to myself?” Stay strong. Veganism centers around personal selflessness and compassion for the animals who have no voice. Don’t let your comfort level get in the way of justice for them.

 

In the comments below…

What are your tips for attending summer cookouts?

Have you had any bad experiences at a cookout?

What is the perfect vegan dish for cookout season?