Your Meat-Free Guide to Grilling Vegan This Labor Day Weekend

|Updated Dec 14, 2021
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It's almost Labor Day Weekend, and although your plans are probably a little different this year-–okay, a lot–you can still make the most of the long weekend by hosting a six-feet-apart lawn chair celebration in the cul-del-sac of your neighborhood or grilling out on your porch with your family. If you're attending a party as a plant-based guest or hosting a get-together where some of the attendees follow a vegan diet, here's a handy guide to let you know what the best patties, hot-dogs, sausages, and sides are to serve to meat and dairy-free diners.

Besides plant-based meat alternatives, it's always a good idea to fire up some veggie skewers, corn on the cob, cauliflower "steaks" and even portabello mushrooms if you'd rather a less-processed option to burgers, dogs and sausages. Below, we break down the best plant-based proteins and side dishes to serve at this year's Labor Day Weekend BBQ, even if its only you and your family in attendance.


1. Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat Burger

We rounded up the 7 best store-bought veggie burgers here, but if you're looking for ones that taste, look and cook just like the real thing, your best bets are made by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods which both mimic real meat shockingly well. The main difference between these brands is that Impossible Foods' version is made mostly out of soy protein, while Beyond Meat's burger is made with pea protein, so choose the one that best fits your dietary needs.

Although they aren't as healthy as bean-based or garden variety veggie burgers, it is a holiday weekend, so why not treat yourself? Just season these up and cook them the same way that you would regular ground beef. While you're at it, add a slice of Violife Just Like Mature Cheddar Slices, and we promise you none of your friends or family, vegan or otherwise, will be able to tell the difference from the real thing. They're that good!

2. Trader Joe's Protein Patties

This year Trader Joe's released a pack of two four-ounce beef-like burgers that retails for $4.49. These patties are made mainly of pea protein, sunflower oil, and beets, and in a test-test by Insider, was said to be a great option "for times that I'm craving something hearty, the Trader Joe's plant-based patties are at the top of my list." If only a couple of people in your party are plant-based, grab a pack of these from your local TJ's to throw on the grill. The retailer has also recently debuted a 'Turkeyless' version of the protein patties, for anyone who prefers the taste of plant-based turkey to beef.

3. Gardein Beefless Burger, The Ultimate

Gardein is one of our favorite plant-based protein brands because we can always rely on them to invent delicious vegan options that taste insanely close to the same thing. They're also widely available in most supermarkets across the country and priced affordably, which gives them high marks for accessibility. These thin patties do a pretty good job at mimicking meat and are slender enough that they would be a great option if you want to go big and stack two to make a vegan double cheeseburger. While you're at it why not add some Lightlife Smart Bacon to the buns?

Hot Dogs

4. Lightlife Vegan Smart Dogs

Lightlife has somehow been able to mimic the texture and taste of hot dogs with these 'Smart Dogs' almost perfectly while using none of the animal products. If you're like me and love "Chicago-style" hot dogs, grab a seeded bun, a few spears of your favorite pickle spears, tomatoes, and top with mustard, ketchup, relish and onions. These are also a great option that kids will love.

5. Tofurky Plant-Based Jumbo Hot Dogs

A tried-and-true brand that always delivers with delicious meatless options, these Tofurky hot dogs hit the nail on the head in terms of flavor and are large enough to satisfy as a main entree. They can also be sliced up and placed on veggie skewers for a nice boost of plant-based protein if you want to forgo the bun.


6. Beyond Meat Sausages

Available in most grocery stores, these Beyond Meat sausages replicate cookout-favorite Bratwursts almost perfectly. Carmelize peppers and onions for a topping and these sausages are perfect for sandwiching in a bulky roll. Available in flavors like Brat Original, Hot Italian, and Sweet Italian, there's an offering to match every dish.

7. Field Roast Sausages

If you're looking to buy plant-based sausages with a gourmet flare, Field Roast's Vegetarian Sausages cannot be beaten. The brand boasts Artisan flavors like Smoked Apple Sage, Mexican Chipotle, Italian, and Bratwurst. Top them off with Field Roast's Chao cheese line which has some of the best plant-based slices in the game (We're partial to the Tomato Cayenne flavor for a hint of spice!) If you don't want to sandwich these in a bun, they are equally as delicious sliced up and used in a pasta salad or baked into your favorite mac n' cheese recipe.

Side Dishes

8. Trader Joe's Vegan Mac

Without a doubt, Trader Joe's Vegan Mac is the creamiest, richest dairy-free mac n' cheese we've ever had, and something about the shape of shell pasta just makes it taste better. This is one of those dishes that everyone at your party will be heaping onto their plates-- not just the vegans. Buy a few containers to anticipate the high demand of this cheezy treat, and if you like a crunchy topping on your mac, just pop this into a dish and add panko breadcrumbs or crushed up potato chips to the top and broil in the oven for a few minutes until golden brown.

9. Follow Your Heart's Coleslaw Dressing

This dairy-free, gluten-free dressing is the perfect way to make your coleslaw 100% vegan. Just add shredded cabbage and carrots to a bowl and top with this mix-- it couldn't be easier! And we're betting your guests won't be able to tell it's not made with mayonnaise.

10. Potato Salad with Hellman's Vegan Dressing and Spread

It wouldn't be a true cookout without potato salad, and an easy way to vegan-ize your family's recipe is to sub regular mayo for Hellmann's Vegan Dressing and Spread. In my opinion, there's absolutely no difference in the taste between this vegan version and the original, so your Great Aunt's recipe will remain true to taste. If you don't have a favorite recipe you follow, we love The Pretty Bee's Classic Vegan Potato Salad.

Are you still searching for guidance when it comes to plant-based proteins? Here are our six favorite pork alternatives. Don't forget to grab some vegan cheese to top your burgers, dogs, and sausages: Here are our favorite brands.