I live in Texas, where the weather changes every few days. Today, for instance, it was in the 80’s; tomorrow, the high is only supposed to be in the low 50’s. We flip flop from freezing to beautiful and back in a whip-lash fashion.
During one of these roller coaster weather patterns, when it was in the 80’s, my family went to the lake with some friends from our church. It actually got so warm that day that our friends turned on their A/C in the camper after we all began sweating!
As per any camping trip, a cook-out ensued. *cue dramatic music*
I actually knew what the group was doing for dinner (hamburgers and hotdogs), and I came prepared. But I realized that a backyard cookout/camping trip chuckwagon/barbecue was never going to be easy as long as I am eating a plant-based diet, since nearly every outdoor eating experience seems to revolve around meat.
As I said, I came prepared; armed with Cowboy Caviar (a bean/raw vegetable salad marinated in Italian dressing) and homemade fresh salsa with tortilla chips, my family and I had the opportunity to share a meal AND eat well. I’m not going to lie – I was a little grossed out when a plate went by with not one but TWO bacon cheeseburgers and homemade potato chips (deep fried in oil and doused with seasoned salt). Not grossed out because it came from animals, but because of how I would feel if I ate that. I would feel bloated, gassy, and a little bit nauseated from all the oil (I have found when I eat fried foods, or even popcorn cooked in oil, I get that same nauseous feeling).
But I was happy when I saw others putting salsa and the fresh guacamole someone brought onto their burgers. At least that’s SOME improvement, right?! 🙂 And of course I beamed when someone asked who brought the delicious bean salad and who made the yummy salsa? Score two points for Team Vegan!
As the days get longer and summer months draw near (hooray for DST, right?), our friends and families will want to eat al fresco. So what’s a vegan going to do?
1.) Be prepared – bring your own protein. Know in advance what’s on the menu. If that’s not possible, ASSUME IT’S GOING TO BE HAMBURGERS AND HOTDOGS. Bring your favorite broccoli recipe (broccoli has more protein in 100 calories than a steak), or black/pinto/kidney/soy bean recipe. The Cowboy Caviar is awesome because it’s got 3 different kinds of beans and a myriad of vegetables, plus it’s light and refreshing in contrast to the barbecued, cooked, and otherwise charred-with-carcinogens food. Just look up a recipe on your favorite browser. You can put what you want in it – mine had black-eyed peas, black beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, corn, green, yellow, orange, and red pepper, red onion, cilantro, avocado, and a package of Good Seasons Italian seasoning made with white vinegar and EVOO. SO ADDICTIVE!
2.) Don’t make a big deal out of it. If you are new to eating a plant-based diet, you may want to shout it from the rooftops so everyone knows…however, that may alienate people or otherwise make them feel inferior. You may get this reaction – “Oh, well SHE is too GOOD for OUR kind of food…” or something to that effect. Just set your stuff out with the other food, fill your plate when it’s your turn, and be sure to thank the host/hostess for a generous spread.
3.) Accept offers with a thanks. Remember that eating a meal together is more important than the food itself. I admit, I ate a couple handfuls of those homemade potato chips that were deep-fried and covered in salt. You know why? Not because they would fuel my body in a positive way, but because it built the relationship with the person who made them. It would have been rude to refuse them. One piece of meat won’t wreck your diet. It may not feel great on your system, but all things will pass. 🙂 So whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t violate your own conscience, eat what is set before you with thanks. (I feel like we all need to go read 1 Corinthians 8 – the chapter about food sacrificed to idols!)
4.) Go for more of the same. If the only option is lettuce, tomato, and onion as toppings for a hamburger, load up! Make a salad out of it and keep eating vegetables until you feel full.
5.) Help your host/hostess think outside of the “hamburger and hotdog” box. What about black bean burgers? Tofu burgers? Vegetable skewers? A southwest style baked potato with black beans, salsa, and avocado is a viable option.
Knowing is half the battle. If you have other tips for vegan eating as the temperatures and the barbecue grills start warming up, please share! Let’s help each other make progress toward our good health goals.