Summertime is cookout time. It might sound counterintuitive but once the weather gets warmer, people love standing over a hot grill cooking burgers and franks and eating outside in the sweltering heat. Unless all your friends are vegan, you’re probably getting invitations to cookouts where meat will be on the grill and every salad will be swimming in mayo (salmonella, anyone?). Maybe you’ll find something to eat or you’ll have to bring a dish or two for yourself while trying to ignore the sight and smell of all the meat.

Even if you follow all the tips in How to Survive a Summer Cookout Without Eating Meat, it can still be frustrating. So why not host your own summer cookout? If it’s your event, you can set the rules and keep it entirely meat-free. Here is the ultimate guide to planning your meatless summer cookout.

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1. Informed Invitations

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If you are planning to keep the party totally plant-based, you need to let your guests know that in advance. Unless all your guests are totally on board with your meatless adventures, some people may arrive bearing gifts you don’t want to accept. Let your guests know that if they want to bring food, it needs to be plant-based. Rather than expecting them to know what that means, make it easier by suggesting specific dishes (with plant-based substitutions and brands), beverages or other items. Ask them to bring ice, plates, cups or other non-food items.

2. Set the Scene

How to Survive a Summer Cookout Without Eating Meat

Whether you are providing the plates, cups and utensils yourself or asking someone else to bring them, make sure they are biodegradable or bamboo. Avoid Styrofoam and plastic. For tips, check out 8 Innovative Ways to Cut Plastic Out of Your Life and this Eco-Friendly Vegan Picnic Guide. Make a rocking playlist of upbeat music. If there will be children at the cookout, you might want to have games available to keep them busy and happy.

3. Beverages

Peach Ginger Sangria [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

There should be a variety of beverages available to meet everyone’s needs. There should be alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Take advantage of summer’s bounty of fruit and make your own cocktails like this Healthy Pina Colada, Papaya Coladas, and Peach Ginger Sangria. Offer refreshing drinks like this Watermelon Cherry Cooler and this Watermelon Rose Drink. Be sure to have lots of cold water and ice available so everyone can stay hydrated in the heat.

4. Burgers, Franks and Sausages, Oh My!

Black Bean Burgers With Cilantro Lime Sauce [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

At a cookout, the stars of the show are always the burgers, hot dogs and sausages. That’s no problem because there are more meatless options than ever and they can rival any meat-filled products. You can also make your own burgers, franks and sausages. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Meats and Meat Substitutes to see the huge variety available to plant-based eaters.

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Bring these Seitan Hot Dogs and Spicy Italian Sausages that hold up on the grill. Take a look at these 10 Ways to Enjoy Hot Dogs and Sausages that are totally plant-based. Enlighten people about how there are at least 10 Vegetables You Can Make Burgers With and watch their eyes bug out when they see you piling the toppings on any of these 25 Unique and Trendy Vegan Burgers. Don’t forget the condiments. Check out 5 Ways to Make Your Own Condiments for Summer Cookouts.

5. Fire Up the Grill

Grilled Seitan Kebabs With Creole Coconut Sauce [Vegan]

Burgers and franks aren’t the only things that belong on the grill. Show off your BBQ savvy with these 15 Savory and Saucy Vegan BBQ Recipes. Impress everyone with your skewer skills and make some Grilled Seitan Kebabs with Creole Coconut SauceSpicy Balsamic Tofu Veggie Kebabs or even some Grilled Fruit Kebabs. Cook up this Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy with Apple Slaw and see if you don’t draw a crowd. Make these Grilled Avocados with Roasted Tomatoes and Charred Corn on the Cob with Chili-Lime Mayo. Everyone will appreciate that you know How to Grill Veggies like a pro. For even more ideas, feast your eyes on these 50 Jaw-Dropping Vegan-Friendly BBQ and Grilling Recipes.

6. Salads and Sides

Think Salads are Just Lettuce? Here are 10 Summer Salads That Will Make You Think Again

Every cookout needs more than just burgers, hot dogs and ribs. Prepare a bunch of side dishes and salads that are festive and delicious. Be sure to put out some food that’s fresh and raw in addition to the cooked food. Set out a platter of crudité with a creamy dip. Try one of these 15 Double-Dip Worthy Dips and Spreads. Offer a big salad filled with fresh, beautiful greens and a few amazing salad dressings to choose from. Here are 10 Summer Salads that are so much more than just lettuce. Learn The Secrets of Homemade Vegan Salad Dressings and try some of these 19 Salad Dressing Recipes you won’t believe are vegan. Besides green salads, have some dairy-free and egg-free potato salads, quinoa salads or macaroni salads that you won’t have to worry about spoiling in the sun. Try this Dijon Fingerling Potato Salad, Simple Summer Macaroni Salad and Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad.

7. Desserts

Funfetti Sugar Cookie Popsicles [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Everyone will love to cool off with some refreshing vegan desserts. Children and adults alike will go crazy for these Funfetti Sugar Cookie Popsicles or any of these 8 Epic Dairy-Free Popsicles. Summer demands ice cream. Here are 30 Fresh and Summery Vegan Ice Creams to choose from. Just because it’s too hot to turn on the oven, that doesn’t mean you can’t have awesome pastries and baked goods. Try these 10 Fresh and Delicious No-Bake Vegan Pies and 10 No-Bake Raw Vegan Cakes. No one will be able to resist these theme-appropriate Off the Grill Cupcakes with Gummy Kebabs.

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The most important thing to have at a summer cookout is fun. With all these delicious recipes, you’ll have nothing to worry about so relax and enjoy the time with your friends and loved ones.

For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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