Veggie Grilling for Personal and Planet Health

It’s officially grilling season, and with Father’s Day just around the corner and the kickoff to summer underway, it’s time to gather some recipes to test out in the hopes that more people will be able to safely gather soon for food and fun.  Although burgers and brats may be staples on the barbecue, if you are limiting meat for health or environmental reasons, there are also many vegan and vegetarian dishes that are ideal for the outdoor kitchen. 

Many people are still isolating or keeping to a small social bubble until COVID vaccinations are more widely distributed.  But planning a small outdoor gathering with friends and family may be possible this summer and weekends beg for a trip to the farmer’s market for local, seasonal produce to grill up for dinner. 

According to a recent HuffPost Food and Drink article, cutting back on meat and dairy can have a significant impact on the environment.  Avoiding meat for just one day each week for a year could reduce carbon emissions, helping address the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity.  Animal welfare aside, a plant-based diet also helps support healthy aging.  

The good news today is that there are many more meatless alternatives to traditional grilling recipes.  Veggie burgers are just the tip of the plant-based mountain of options for vegan or vegetarian-curious people who want to ease their way into a healthier and environmentally-conscious diet.  Although charred meat is associated with carcinogens, vegetables cooked on the grill are less likely to be harmful.  But to be safe, avoid badly blackening vegetables and cook food at a lower or indirect heat. 

Traditional side dishes like potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad and coleslaw can be easily made vegan with a few ingredients swaps; soaked cashews blended with vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, onion and celery salt makes for a tasty mayo alternative or, cheat a little with a store-bought vegan mayonnaise. 

For hearty main dishes, portobello mushrooms, jackfruit, eggplant and sweet potatoes are good choices for their texture that stands up well to the heat of a grill and with a smoky marinade will impart an umami flavor that will please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  Ready to start experimenting?  Here’s a link to Connoisseurus Veg and a recipe for Portobello Mushroom Hot  Dogs.