Help! There's a vegan at my BBQ!

Kieren Caldwell

A Vegan BBQ Nightmare

For many, there are 5 words that can still strike panic into the most experienced, calm-headed, meat-loving Pitmaster: 

"Do you have anything vegan?"

This very thing, dear reader, happened to Karen Boomer (pictured) and now, thanks to weeks of therapy and a couple of valium, she's ready to recount the horror - and offer the benefit of her research, via  a series of "Dos and Don'ts" below.

Karen's story:

"The phone doesn't ring much.  Except today.  It's all whatsapp and Grindr these days so when I got a call from Jason, my eldest, I knew something wasn't quite right.  There's always something not-quite-right with Jason.  This time it was his significant other, Kate, too.  After the initial pleasantries, matters became clearer:

"So, we're looking forward to coming for the barbecue in a couple of weeks time..."

"That's nice, dear, so are we"

"But, erm... this is a bit difficult... we're vegan these days..."


"Vegan, dear?"

"Yeah, we're not eating meat.  Or animal products"

Ah food.  That's a relief.  You never know with kids and their open relationships, these days.

"Is everything ok, dear?"

"We're fine Mom, it's just something we'd like to try and see"

"Does that mean... will your children catch it, too?"

"We don't have kids Mom".

Yes, well don't I know.

Well, dear reader, I recalled the time my nephew Stephen came out as A Friend Of Dorothy's and my training kicked in, almost word-for-word:

"I'm just glad you felt that you could tell us dear.  Leave your Dad to me". I offered, with a mask of breeziness that shielded my horror.

A Tidal Wave of Wokeness

Derek, Jason's father, was less guarded.


He says this a lot, these days. 


I've never seen him order one but he does get very angry about them.

So I settled Derek down with a milky tea and a copy of the Mail on Sunday whilst I took a deep breath and faced life's challenges head-on!  Dear Reader, there are things about veganism that blew my mind.  It's a minefield out there!

The Rules (or at least some of them)

Firstly, some vegans don't eat honey!  Apparently bees making honey is against their animal rights (or whatever it is the EU dictated)!

Vegan BBQ idea

Otherwise, the general rule is no animals or animal products - so here's some things to watch out for:

1.  Anything with milk, cheese, eggs or cream in it.  That's quite a lot of puddings!

2.  Some soy sauces have fish bits (molluscs) in them but most don't.

3.  Honey can be replaced by agave nectar or golden syrup (as Smoke and Flame have with their Persian Cauliflower meal kit).

4.  Anything containing animal based gums including gelatine and lanolin.

5.  Toasted marshmallows? Nope.  Apparently marshmallows have rights these days. 

6.  Many sauces such as Worcestershire Sauce, some BBQ sauces (although none at our Dutch friends at Saus Guru (who ship internationally).  The list goes on!

If in doubt, look for the icon on the food packaging.

Oh, and keep the veggie stuff away from any meat fats and crusty bits.  You wouldn't want any flavour on your meal would you?

What can vegans and vegetarians eat at a BBQ?

One more thing: A quick browse on the vegan forums and I can tell you one thing:  Quorn sausages will not do!

Thankfully, those good eggs at Smoke and Flame have got some meal kits for you to try (although I hear they're owned by a woman.  A woman who BBQs!  How very modern!).

Vegetarian and Vegan BBQ Idea Hispi Cabbage

A spicy Charred Hispi Cabbage or a Persian inspired cauliflower steak - and they have good reviews, too.  Quite oddly. 

Ok, so all of this is a lot of hassle but remember, this could be the future bearers of grandchildren you're accommodating! 

There's something very special about gathering with family and friends, around a fire and sharing a meal.  And even vegans should experience that.

Stay strong and keep the blitz spirit alive!

Karen x

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