This weekend marks the unofficial start of grill season. But vegans are well aware that a summer barbecue invite carries an unspoken demand: Bring your own food, you meatless weirdo. 'Cuz let's be real -- most folks aren't using their prized Webers for eggplant and portobello, now are they?
The good news is, whether you're a meatless eater looking for grub to grill or a party host in need of something to impress that vegan hottie you invited, there are lots of options these days. Check out seven choices for this weekend's festivities.
See also: Miami's Ten Best Vegan Desserts
Note: fake meats generally don't behave like real meats on a grill, natch. So read the directions and keep an eye on your eats. (If you really want to keep things idiot-proof, almost everything grills up pretty well when wrapped in tinfoil.)
This is the stuff for fooling omnivores. These grain meat products come in all kinds of incarnations, from apple maple breakfast sausage, to deli meats, to a Thanksgiving-themed hazelnut cranberry roast. But for grilling purposes, opt for their sausage links. Choose from Mexican chipotle, Italian, or smoked apple sage, all made with healthy foodstuffs like eggplant, apple cider vinegar, and fennel seed. They're made like regular sausage and they taste like regular sausage -- but without the questionable meat byproducts.
You can scoop these veg patties up at Trader Joe's and many a Publix. They're jam-packed with vegetables, including string beans, zucchini, peas, broccoli, corn, edamame and spinach -- plus other recognizable ingredients. Opt for these if you dig produce over faux meat.
If you want something that's a throwback to your meat-eating days gone by, this is probably your best bet. It at least resembles the real thing, so fellow partygoers won't mercilessly tease you about your affinity for rabbit food.
If you're looking for a basic hot dog substitute, these are a tasty choice. The package even boasts their grillability. But make sure you opt for the Jumbo -- the regular size is a two-biter. They're practically indistinguishable from the real thing (especially when it comes to appearance), so remember where you left 'em on that meat-packed grill.
Italian sausage is the stuff grillers' dreams are made of. And Tofurky makes a mean one -- sans pig parts, of course. They also offer a beer brat and a Kielbasa, so no matter what your ethnic cuisine of choice, they've got a banger for you.
2. Sweet potatoes
OK, these aren't a fake meat, but wrap 'em in tinfoil and throw 'em on the grill and you've got the easiest vegan entree in the world. You can also brush with maple syrup ahead of time, if you like a little sweetness in your life. Either way, this is a cheap and super easy way to feed yourself at any shindig. Almost any vegetable is made better on the grill -- corn, zucchini, onions, asparagus, you name it.
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Bananas work, too. Skip the cream-laden pies and fatty ice cream and opt for some mouthwatering grilled fruit, instead. For pineapples, put some brown sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag, shake the pineapple around (spears or slices work) and refrigerate for at least a half hour. Then, grill away! For bananas, they're best when grilled still in the peel. The result is warm and gooey and totally amazing.
Happy Memorial Day, meatless friends!
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.