Home » Blogs » Exploring Veganism » BBQ Season: How Do Vegans Get Grilled?

BBQ Season: How Do Vegans Get Grilled?

This post is by contributor Sherry Zitter, MSW, LICSW*

It’s Barbecue season! Besides the major holidays, this is possibly the toughest time for vegan clients and therapists alike.

Why would this be? Don’t vegans eat with meat-eaters all year long? Yes, but certain times of year focus even more on the animals to be eaten and often expect vegans to join in on this commentary or be considered “spoilers.” The summer barbecue culture often leaves vegans feeling isolated, depressed and bit…grilled.

What’s the best ways to support vegan clients feeling stress and anxiety about the approaching summer?

Identifying and working with feelings and triggers:

When any client recognizes triggers in a situation, the result can be relief and empowerment. If a vegan client can explore their anxiety/stress, frustration/anger or depression, it can lead to a recognition that a part of them gets triggered by not feeling heard or understood, by feeling rejected by the group, or other childhood pain that gets amplified by being in non-vegan situations. As they learn to honor and heal the childhood pain, the current pain of animals being needlessly killed can be handled with more compassion for oneself, the animals – AND for non-vegan friends. After all, most vegans were not born that way, and we can remember when we too did not know the implications of our daily food choices. This remembering can ease the stress of even a barbecue situation.

Help them review their options:

We support clients dealing with any challenge by helping them look at their choices and pick the healthiest one for them at this moment in time, given their current skills and where they are in their journey.

Some options could be:

  1.  To avoid barbecues altogether: to create more innocuous social opportunities such as picnics or meeting at restaurants;


  1.  To attend or host vegan food-only summer gatherings; either with vegan friends or a mixed group, with vegans providing all the food, or if someone else offers, requesting they bring a vegan dish and provide options: Could you bring the wine/beer, or chips and salsa, or pick up ice?


  1.  To attend barbecues and offer to bring vegan dishes. The easiest and most socially acceptable options could be to bring Beyond Meat burgers (that many meat-eaters say taste a lot like meat), other meat substitutes, or some of the many familiar prepared vegan dishes available such as German potato salad or corn on the cob (with Earth Balance rather than butter).

For vegan clients who enjoy cooking or baking, almost any dish can be googled to find a delicious vegan version. (Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker or Vegan Yack Attack are 3 great places to start.) This is a welcoming way to introduce meat-eaters or dairy-eaters to delicious vegan food, without seeming preachy or critical – which would obviously create a negative cycle among friends and loved ones.

I have found that skewers of tempeh and vegetables with vegan marinade are always welcomed, and the person in charge of the grill is often open to cooking those or veggie burgers before the meat, or cooking them on foil.

Have support available before and after the event: 

12 Step groups call this “book-ending:” have a friend or support person know before a tough situation and check in with them afterwards, like bookends holding up books. If a vegan or vegan-sympathetic loved one can support your client through an event that centers barbequed animals and understands the stresses associated with that, then the vegan can feel understood and held, and is more likely to maintain compassion for self and others — human and non-human — during the situation. And feel the job was…”well done.”


*This post is by contributor Sherry Zitter, MSW, LICSW.

Sherry is a longterm vegan advocate, psychotherapist and meditator certified as an IFS (Internal Family Systems) therapist. She does therapy with adults, teens and couples in English and American Sign Language. She advocates regularly for veganism, racial justice/social-economic justice and the Earth, among other causes. She co-facilitates a monthly vegan spirituality circle. Sherry is learning to extend compassion to all beings, human and non-human, vegan and non-vegan, inside and outside of ourselves — and is continually surprised by how difficult this is, especially her own foibles! Sherry can be reached at [email protected].
BBQ Season: How Do Vegans Get Grilled?

Beth Levine, LCSW-C

Beth Levine, LCSW-C, has a private practice based in Rockville, Maryland. She is Certified as a Therapist and Therapist Supervisor in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy by The Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy. She also has earned a Level I Certification in Internal Family Systems. Beth works with adults in individual and couple settings. She works with people struggling with anxiety, depression and relationship issues. She is honored to be part of her clients’ journey toward better health, happiness, and relationships. She is driven to make the world a better place on an individual, as well as a systemic level. Beth can be reached at [email protected] and at her website.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Levine, B. (2019). BBQ Season: How Do Vegans Get Grilled?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jun 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.