What do you think of when you think of food for the Fourth of July? If you said barbecue, you’re among the majority in Texas. But just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a day with friends.

Of course, the standard hot dog, chicken and hamburger replacements are top of the list for fitting in at a party. Actually, any of the non-breaded frozen meat replacements work wonderfully on the grill. Of those, we love Smart Dogs and Tofu Pups, which both grill nicely, and the soy Boca patties for burgers. Or, if you prefer to make your own patties, About.com has a list of some pretty interesting burger recipes. Slap the BBQ sauce – the real magic of a Texas barbecue – on any readily available meat substitute and you might be the only one who realizes you’re eating a vegetarian meal.

But meat substitutes aren’t the only way to enjoy using the grill. Large or cut vegetables are amazing and light enough to keep you upright through the heat of the afternoon. Toss a portabella cap on the heat and dress it up for a juicy burger alternative. Or skewer some summer squash, onions, peppers, fruits and whatever else you have on hand for something even the carnivores will love. Vegetable skewers cook up fast, so squeeze some fresh lemon over them and put them to the fire toward the end of the grilling cycle.

Although many of those listed are not inherently vegetarian, Kelly Worthington-Hardy has a beautiful Pinterest page for red, white and blue food. Any of the gelatin deserts can be reworked with agar agar, and Newport Flavors and Fragrances makes some vegan food coloring options. It may take a little planning, but making festive take-alongs can be downright easy if that’s what you want.

If you are more “old fashioned” with your snacks (which we tend to be), try simple deviled eggs – add pickles or celery for increased texture – and ants on a log. They may not fall into the new expected colors, but they’ve been around since the dawn of entertaining for a reason. Or maybe something along the lines of lemonade or a summer punch are more your speed? A little beet sugar and a bag of fresh fruit to juice goes a long way on a hot summer afternoon around here.

The point is, if you are celebrating America’s independence with friends and family this Wednesday, you shouldn’t have to work harder finding something to eat or serve than you do deciding where to spend the day. Spend your time enjoying each other’s company and cook up some of the many vegetarian options that are becoming more readily available every day.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.