Make Your Compassionate Cookout a Sizzling Success!

by gmathers

Summer is officially underway and everyone wants to be outdoors, which makes backyard barbecueing one of America’s favorite summer pasttimes. Unfortunately, barbecues can actually be dangerous when meat is on the menu. Grilling animal protein–in particular chicken breast, steak, pork, salmon, or hamburger–can produce cancer-causing compounds. These carcinogens are the result of cooking at high temperatures, charring, and burning animal fats, the consumption of which are all associated with stomach, colon, liver, and even skin cancers.

Avoid these risks by choosing delicious vegetarian fare instead. These hearty, healthy, and cruelty-free burgers and kabobs are sure to be crowd-pleasers at the next cookout you host or attend!


Pesto Burgers (Yields 12 burgers)

  • 2 cups cooked white beans, mashed
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups basil
  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten or garbonzo bean flour
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • oil for grilling
  1. In a blender pulse the spinach, basil, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, bouillon, and salt until it is smooth with a little texture.
  2. Move to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients (mixture should be thick and wet, but not runny).
  3. Drop by a 1/3-1/2 cup full onto a hot, greased skillet or piece of foil on top a bbq. Shape into a patty if necessary. As the burgers cook, they will firm and dry out a little, but still retain their juiciness and vivid color.
  4. Re-oil the pan or foil before flipping.
  5. Serve with a vegan garlic or sundried tomato aioli. It also makes a great vegan meatball option!

Kabobs are hot this season, and we’re making them a little hotter! With this explosion of flavor you’ll want to save room for seconds.


Spicy Kick Kabobs (Yields 8 kabobs)


  • 1/4 cup apricot or orange preserves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes or ancho pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Skewer Options—mix, match, and pick your favorite!

Bell peppers, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, onions, pineapple, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, avocado, tofu (drained and pressed), or your favorite veggie meat—all cubed.

  1. Marinade your veggies for at least an hour before you plan on grilling. The longer you drain and press the tofu, the more flavor it will absorb.
  2. Skewer your veggies with some pre-soaked skewers, alternating as you like.
  3. Place on a hot grill. Turn about once every five minutes, brushing with extra marinade if it begins to look dry.
  4. Optional: serve with a side of soy-yogurt dip.

Check out other great recipes and veggie-meat suggestions for your grill to help make this sizzling summer more compassionate than ever! 

(* Photo credits: Dominik Walczuk)