It is a common misconception that if someone doesn’t eat meat, then they don’t barbecue…And if a herbivore barbecues, then what on earth does he/she throw on the grill? What is the best way to share a barbecue with a partner, roommate or other griller who wants to cook meat beside those veggie burgers?
Owning Your Own Grill
There’s nothing like it — owning your very own veg-only grill that has never seen the back side of a hot dog or chicken breast. You know it’s sterile and you can relax knowing that you’ll never need to worry about any pesky cross-contamination issues. It’s your very own meat-free zone, a wide open territory and veg griller’s paradise without any restrictions, worries or concerns. You can don your happy veg griller apron, a big veg*n grin and cook outdoors any damn time you please.
Sharing a Grill at a Barbecue
But what if you must share a grill with others who cook meat? Here are some ground rules for you to follow so things remain peaceful and copacetic for all parties involved:
- Identify clearly designated and marked barbecue territories / sides / districts for veg-only vs. meat-only items using non-flammable crime-scene tape, if necessary.*
- Scrub the barbecue grill / racks thoroughly after or before each cook out.
- Use separate utensils and plates for meat vs. no-meat items; some kind of a color coded system works best.
- For a kabob or other item where one’s tendency would be to mix raw meat with veggies and cook them together, create separate kabobs. One with meat only and one with veggies only. Cook them in the separate predefined quadrants of the barbecue. Stack them on separate platters or serving dishes once cooked.
- Utilize separate removable cooking racks and trays that sit on top of the grill. These can contain the veg*n item(s), and you can easily remove and clean them.
* Not yet invented. Patent pending…?
At one barbecue gathering, a cousin of mine (who shall remained nameless but he knows who he is) innocently stacked the cooked veggie burgers in between the cooked hamburgers. I gently explained about cross-contamination, and consumed the veggie burger that had not touched the hamburger. Sure, he looked at me like I was a little crazy, but oh well. Not only does it run in the family, I also think we all learned a valuable lesson that day…
Using a Public Grill for a Barbecue
Okay, so a shared grill among friends is usually manageable. But what about public grills used at resorts, hotels, time-shares, or parks? You probably don’t know the people who used it in the past or what they prepared on that grill. So you’ve probably got to just suck it up — and scrub the portion of the grill you plan on using to cook a veg*n item.
And when it comes to ordering a veggie burger from a restaurant or fast food establishment that also cooks beef hamburgers (and probably doesn’t give a thought to cross-contamination), you can either ask them in advance to use a different area of the grill, pretend the issue doesn’t exist, or order something else that doesn’t involve a shared grill. I would not hold my breath about the cookie using separate utensils / plates for the finished product either…
Yes, you may find it challenging to endure the smell and smoke of charred meat coming from a neighbor’s backyard, county fair, grocery store parking lot or block party. Forget all about the reassurances that smoke follows beauty; my advice is to move to higher ground — preferably upwind.
It can take courage and patience to teach fellow grillers about the do’s and don’ts of sharing the same barbecue with a mainly vegan. But once others understand and “get it,” things should flow smoothly — although some veg*n supervision may be required.