Veganize Your Fourth of July Picnic (Including Your Brownies) With These Easy Tips

For most Americans, Independence Day conjures up thoughts of backyard barbecues and town picnics. 

But for vegans, the typical meat-centric picnic basket offers few options to tantalize the taste buds. Whether you are vegan, have friends who are vegan, or are simply trying to eat healthier, here are some quick, inexpensive tips to easily “veganize” your summer celebrations.

These meat-and-dairy alternatives are available at specialty grocers, such as Whole Foods, and can be easily substituted into your favorite recipes so you can enjoy a traditional Fourth of July picnic that will make even non-vegans want to celebrate.

1. Potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw are some of the easiest dishes to veganize. Simply replace traditional egg-based mayonnaise with a vegan mayo such as Veganaise dressing and sandwich spread, Hampton Creek Just Mayo, or Earth Balance Mindful Mayo.

2. Baked beans are often cooked in a pork-based sauce, but vegan baked beans are readily available and easy to find. Amy’s, Walnut Acres, and Bush's all offer delicious, canned vegan baked beans. When reading labels, watch out for animal fat or honey, which are not vegan, as well as unspecified “natural flavors,” which may be animal-based.

3. Sandwiches can be made with vegan cold cuts and vegan cheese. Selections are readily available and include Tofurky, Field Roast, or Yves deli slices, and Chao, Go Veggie, or daiya cheese slices. Most pre-packaged, processed breads are not vegan, but fresh, bakery breads often are. Check labels for eggs, milk, and milk powder, which are sometimes added to highly processed bread and buns.

4. Vegan hot dogs, sausages, and burgers are available at most markets, but be certain to check the ingredients for egg or dairy products. Vegan bread and buns are available at Whole Foods Market. Or serve hot dogs and veggie burgers “green style,” which means wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun.

5. Pies can easily be made vegan by using a pre-made crust containing no lard or butter and using organic sugar instead of processed white sugar. A simple way to make an egg, milk, and butter-free cake is to simply add a 12-ounce can of club soda to any dairy-free boxed cake mix and bake as directed. No one will ever know the difference.

And because no Fourth of July picnic is complete without rich, chocolate brownies, we offer the following recipe, which is so fudgy and moist your guests will never believe it is vegan.
Wendy’s Chewy, Gooey Brownies with Chocolatey Cream Cheeze Frosting

  • 8 oz. vegan chocolate chips
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance 
  • 2 ½ cups organic or vegan sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsp. arrowroot powder or egg replacer powder, such as Ener-G or Bob’s Red Mill
  • 2/3 cup soymilk or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. high-quality vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose baking flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt chocolate and margarine together in double-boiler. With electric beaters, whip egg replacer, soymilk, and vanilla together, then beat in the sugar, then melted chocolate mixture.

Sift together dry ingredients, then beat into wet mixture until smooth, being careful not to overmix.

Spread evenly into 10" x 14" greased glass or nonstick baking dish. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cream-Cheeze Frosting:
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted
  • ½ cup dairy-free cream cheese, such as Tofutti
Whip the cream cheese with electric beaters until light and fluffy (about 90 seconds), then add melted chocolate and whip one minute longer. Be certain brownies are completely cooled before frosting.

Wendy Rhodes is a freelance writer and award-winning author. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @WendyRhodesFL.
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Wendy Rhodes is a lover of rock 'n' roll and all things vegan. She has witnessed a green flash, kissed a live shark, and stood atop an active volcano. She is always open to new story ideas.