Forget Meat, Barbecued Beets Are All You Need At A Vegan Cookout

Vegans and cookouts don't mesh well; vegans, who have sworn off the consumption of any and all animal-derived foods, are held witness to the grilling, smoking, and barbecuing of the very animal meats they've chosen to give up. Though it is a personal choice, and there's no vegan police or higher religious power keeping them from enjoying said foods, there's a bit of FOMO happening on the side of the vegans. After all, it's the communal act of sitting down at a backyard table, park bench, or picnic blanket with a plate of food and good conversation that brings people to cookouts — not just the meat.

Fortunately, when it comes to cookouts, vegans have an answer — and no, it's not "fake" meat; it's something much simpler. In fact, this answer is one that brings vegans back to the basics, to the days before the existence of the Beyond, Impossible, and any of the other abstractly named alternative burgers that dominate the markets today. It's beets, the very ingredient that's extracted for use in meat alternatives to give them their reddish, meat-like colors. As it turns out, when they're sliced, put in a marinade, and charred on the grill, they work as well as a topping for pasta salad as they do on their own, smashed between two burger buns with your go-to vegan cheese.

Can't beet it

Beets are a common ingredient in vegan and vegetarian foods, and while they aren't as popular on their own as they are infused into a veggie burger, they are just as useful. Besides being incredibly nutritious, these root veggies can be very delicious; you just need to know how to work with them. In the case of your vegan cookout, that can be as simple as a good marinade and a hot grill. 

Your beet marinade can include just about anything. Balsamic vinegar is a wonderful addition as, just like with onions, it will add a rich flavor once you've put them on the grill and let them caramelize. Other than that, you'll want to treat your beets to the same aromatics and herbs as you would the meat at your cookout. Garlic is almost always a must, as well as herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and basil. What's really important is how long you should be marinating your veggies – especially your beets. Because they're root veggies and therefore are much hardier than other vegetables, they'll need anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

When they've had the time to absorb all of the flavors, take each slice and place it on the grill until they get a nice char on both sides. From there, you can serve them however you'd like — whether that's on a veggie burger, a salad, or on its own with an extra drizzle of balsamic.