When A Vegetarian Comes To The Cookout Earth Burger’s The Veg King has You Covered
“As a good host, you should always keep your guests’ dietary preferences in mind. The goal is for everyone to have a good time and enjoy themselves.”, Mike Behrend, Founder and Chef, Earth Burger.
There’s nothing Texans love more than a good old-fashioned cookout filled with barbecue, brisket, burgers, and beer. And with summer right around the corner, families and friends will be gathering to fire up the grill and celebrate graduations, the Fourth of July, and more. But what if you are vegetarian? No worries! You won’t be the wet blanket at the barbecue. Whether you are the host or the guest, it’s easier than ever to accommodate a plant-based diet—even at a traditional Texas cookout.
“You can find brands like Beyond Burger at your local grocery store right next to the meat,” says Mike Behrend, founder, and chef at Earth Burger. “Trader Joe’s has some great vegan sausages too.”
Known to his friends as “The Veg King,” Behrend has been manning the grill since his high school football days when he would invite his teammates over and smoke a brisket, and serve vegetables he grew in his garden. Today, he no longer grills brisket, but he does still enjoy playing host at the cookout, using spices and seasonings to create foods so rich in flavor, you won’t miss the meat. Here are a few of his tips for ways you can turn a backyard barbecue into a plant-forward party.
Keep It Clean
When it comes to your sides, less is more. “You should always keep your sides clean if you can,” advises Behrend. That means leaving the bacon out of your beans. “You don’t need bacon or pork in your beans at all,” he says. “You can make great beans with cilantro, onions, garlic, even a can of beer.”
Grills Aren’t Just For Meat
There are very few things that can’t be grilled, so think outside the box. Veggies on a skewer make a delicious kabob-and don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables and even fruits like watermelon. “I like to grill cauliflower and cabbage,” says Behrend, who makes a mean grilled Caesar Salad. “It’s all about how you prepare it.” Which brings us to….
Season It Up
Southern food is flavorful, and that applies to plant-forward meals too. Fresh herbs and a variety of seasonings bring out the delicious, natural flavors in a variety of vegetables and meatless dishes. Ironically, Behrend favors Uncle Chris’s Steak Seasoning from Bolner’s, available at most area groceries. “I use it on everything—except steak,” he laughs.
Keep It Simple
Even mainstream grocery stores are carrying a wider selection of vegetarian, plant-based and vegan products from meatless patties and sausages to vegan cheeses. Hellman’s has also rolled out a vegan mayo, perfect for your potato salad. The bottom line is, any effort on your part as the host is appreciated. “As a good host you should always keep your guests’ dietary preferences in mind,” says Behrend. The same goes for guests. Make sure that you inform your host of your preferences, and even offer to bring a dish yourself. “The goal is for everyone to have a good time and enjoy themselves.”
Earth Burger was established in 2014 by the vegetarian pioneers of San Antonio, Texas, who created Green Vegetarian Cuisine and Bok Choy. Their “big boom” idea was for Earth Burger to be one of the nation’s first plant-based drive-thrus offering a healthy, low calorie take on fast food for those on the go. Earth Burger’s goal is to provide people with great healthy choices at a great value, while at the same time doing something better for the planet. Earth Burger offers two locations in San Antonio (Park North & Nacogdoches) with a location in San Marcos and The Mall of America in Minnesota. Visiteatearthburger.com for more information.