There’s an aspect of the holidays that makes me…sad. I mean, I’m all about the big family get-togethers, the extra chairs pulled up to the dining table, the reasons to turn lunch into a picnic at the park—what’s not to love?

Well, there’s the food: so extravagant, so indulgent, and in such excessive quantities that a post-meal ritual is to fall into a “food coma”. Not to mention the alcohol.

  • TIME Magazine reported that around 155 million hot dogs are consumed every 4th of July. Inherently, we know that the reddish, plasticky tube of meat isn’t really good for us, but Peter Clifton, professor of nutrition at the University of South Australia, puts it like this: “All data says processed meat is bad: more diabetes, higher mortality, more cardiovascular disease.” Yup, hot dogs are bad, stay away from them.
  • The consumption of grilled or barbecued meat increases one’s risk for pancreatic cancer by 60%.
  • Drinking beer
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did a 5-year study that showed that an average of 118.4 lives are lost in car crashes, making it the most consistently deadly day of the year.

But take heart, my friends! There’s a better way to fully enjoy your 4th of July holiday. Even if you’re the only one at the barbecue who’s committing to a healthier July holiday, consider the idea that you’re a plant-based ambassador. Your dishes may spark conversation about how plant-based can actually be a delicious holiday option. You never know who might be convinced.

Sides

  • Italian Pasta Salad: Tangy, light, and filling, this pasta salad uses ingredients like sundried tomatoes and arugula to turn this pasta salad into a something gourmet and unique.
  • Fresh Watermelon Mango Salad: “Few things are lovelier or more refreshing than a salad of freshly cut fruit. The only way to make an already-great fruit salad better? A drizzle of bright, lightly sweet lime-agave dressing.”

Mains

  • Chili-Cheeze Baked Potato: “Toss the sour cream and butter and top your potato with a tasty 3-bean chili!”
  • Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwich: “Creamy and textured like egg salad, this sandwich will make you forget the real thing.”
  • Smoky Oat Burger: “Chewy, hearty, and with a seriously ‘meaty’ flavor, this might be one of the best vegetarian burgers out there.”

Desserts

  • Secret Ingredient Brownie Bites: “Normally, brownies would be out of the question for plant-based foodies. But with the secret ingredient, this guilty pleasure becomes a low-glycemic treat.”
  • Raw Lemon Cheesecake: “This amazing cheesecake is so good, you’ll think it’s the real thing. Made without dairy and without baking, it’s the easiest cheesecake you’ll ever make!”

Happy 4th of July, everyone!


About the Author

Sarah Jung

Sarah Jung is the associate director of Life and Health Network, but wears a plethora of hats as editor, communications director, and sometimes photographer. Unrelated to Life and Health, Sarah is the country director and founding member of Oon Jai Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower people living in developing countries through friendship and working, learning, and mentoring side-by-side with the locals. In her spare time, Sarah likes to read, write, and find mountains to climb.

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