When I began transitioning to a vegan lifestyle during the summer of 2017, one of my worries was that I would be excluded from certain summer activities that center heavily around food. I quickly realized, though, that the activities that come to mind when thinking of summer can be veganized and enjoyed by all. Living a vegan lifestyle has opened my mind to new interests and adventures, and I have found that the nonvegans in my life are incredibly open to taking part in them with me. These six summer activities are not just for vegans but for anyone who is open to trying something different or having a new experience this summer.
Make Vegan Ice Cream
In my opinion, ice cream is the quintessential summer treat. I always thought making homemade vegan ice cream (otherwise known as “nice” cream) would be a tedious process requiring an ice cream maker or other special equipment, until I learned that all you need is some bananas and a blender! Just freeze your bananas and throw them in your blender or food processor to get that perfect ice-creamy consistency. You can get creative with your recipe by adding cocoa powder, cacao nibs, berries, nuts, and anything else your heart desires. Try our green tea ginger choco chip ice cream or no-churn coconut cashew ice cream. For popsicle lovers, we suggest red, white & blue popsicle and chocolate-coated mocha popsicle. You might already have everything you need at home to get started!
Attend a Vegan Food Festival
While we were in the midst of the pandemic last year, I longed for the days when we would see festivals and other events come back to life. Those days are finally here! This summer, I’ll be attending the outdoor Atlantic City Vegan Food Festival, where 100+ vendors will be offering up vegan eats and treats, sustainable clothing and accessories, clean skincare and beauty products, and so much more. Attending a vegan festival is a great way to connect with likeminded individuals and to discover small businesses and brands whose values align with yours. Not to fear if you don’t live near Atlantic City! Check out the VegEvents website for a list of vegan festivals happening across the world and even virtually this summer.
Pack A Plant-Based Picnic
One of my favorite ways to spend a beautiful summer day is outside on a picnic blanket. There is something so whimsical about enjoying your favorite light bites while surrounded by greenery and sunshine. I love to pack a variety of vegan dips like hummus, Kite Hill’s French onion dip, and GoodFoods’ plant-based buffalo style dip, with assorted crackers and veggies for dipping. I always pack a small vegan cheese plate, and with so many delicious vegan cheeses on the market today from brands like Violife, Miyoko’s, and Treeline, the possibilities for your spread are endless. Fresh fruit like berries or watermelon will add color and sweetness to your selection. I like to include extras like apricot or strawberry jam, assorted nuts, and olives. You’ll also probably want to bring a refreshing beverage to wash everything down—you could try Olipop’s sparkling tonics, which are vegan-friendly and made with prebiotics to support gut health.
Visit an Animal Sanctuary
Visiting an animal sanctuary and spending time with rescued animals can be an incredibly rewarding experience for all. Not to mention that many animal sanctuaries are located on beautiful grounds and in scenic locations that will fit in perfectly with your summer travels. Some even have hotel accommodations if you’re looking for a longer-term, more immersive stay. Taking a visit to an animal sanctuary this summer will guarantee an experience full of learning about and bonding with animals on a deeper level than we usually have the opportunity for. If this sounds like something you might want to do on a regular basis, many sanctuaries have recurring volunteer opportunities. Check out the Sanctuary Federation’s find-a-sanctuary tool, which you can use to discover animal sanctuaries near you, wherever you are in the world.
Host a Plant-Based Barbecue
It’s 2021—barbeques aren’t just for meat-eaters anymore. And even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, a plant-based barbecue is the perfect place to give one of those vegan burgers you’ve been hearing about a try. Impossible burgers are my favorite, but you will probably find at least a few meat-alternative brands at your local grocery store offering plant-based burgers, sausages, and the like. If you’re looking to serve up some more creative grub at your barbecue, take a look at our mouthwatering vegan BBQ ideas that aren’t veggie burgers. These are guaranteed to entice your vegan and non-vegan friends alike.
Roast Vegan Marshmallows at a Backyard Bonfire
Sitting around a fire while chatting and laughing with your friends or family can be one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of summer. It’s a time to disconnect from our busy, technology-filled lives and just enjoy other people’s company. Whenever there’s a bonfire, I bring Dandies vegan marshmallows to roast—they taste and melt just like the real deal, and you can take it one step further by bringing vegan chocolate and graham crackers to make s’mores. If you share one with your nonvegan friends, they probably won’t even be able to tell the difference!
While food can be a big part of summer fun, at the real center of these activities are the human connections they help us to nourish and the experiences we get to share. Whether you try one, a few, or all of these activities, share them with people who bring joy to your life, and you’ll surely have a summer to remember.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photos: Aubrey Pancheco; Dahl via Unsplash, Brownfas via Wikimedia, e69acf via Flickr, Raccoon Photo via Flickr