The warm, breezy days of spring are the perfect setting for a picnic. Whether you head to a local park, set up a spot on the side of your favorite hiking trail, or lay a blanket in the backyard, getting outside to dine al fresco is a dreamy way to spend a spring afternoon.
Thankfully, it’s easy to make your picnic a low-impact affair. There’s no need for plastic forks or disposable napkins — instead, plan a picnic full of zero-waste dining essentials and, of course, tasty vegan snacks and beverages. Here’s everything you need for a vegan spring picnic.
Before you start prepping the finger foods and mixing up homemade lemonade, make sure your picnic basket is fully stocked with sustainable dining ware. You don’t want to ruin a beautiful picnic with plastic utensils, single-use wrappers, or paper towels.
Thrifted Picnic Basket
If you don’t already have a picnic basket, check your local thrift stores or ask friends and family to borrow their picnic baskets. If you do decide to purchase a new basket, look for ethically made options handcrafted by artisans who are paid well. No picnic basket? Pack a few old lunchboxes or your cooler instead.
Make sure to pack your basket with enough silverware, reusable straws, and durable cups, plates and bowls for every person joining the picnic. At the end of the picnic, just pack up all the items and take them home to wash, rather than tossing disposables that are destined to spend centuries in a landfill.
Paper towels just ruin the whole picnic aesthetic. Instead, opt for some chic cloth napkins. Paper towels and napkins aren’t just wasteful; they also contribute to deforestation and leach chemicals into the environment as they degrade. Plus, cloth napkins just look nicer!
The most eco-friendly picnic blanket is a blanket you already have. Grab an old flat sheet or large throw blanket for your picnic. If you plan to do a lot of picnicking, then consider investing in an ethically made picnic blanket made from natural materials.
Vegan Picnic Foods
Now that your picnic essentials are sorted, it’s time to plan the most exciting part: the menu! Finger foods are key to a successful picnic, and you’ll also want to bring some refreshing beverages to sip in the sunshine.
A board full of meats and cheeses is hardly vegan, but these popular grazing boards are easy to make plant-based with veg-friendly alternatives. Add your favorite plant-based meat and cheese slices, plus plenty of grapes, berries, olives, baby carrots, celery, and other fresh produce. Add in crackers, slices of baguette, and nuts to round out the board.
Pinwheels are a fun addition to any picnic, and they offer plenty of flavor in every bite. Plus, they are incredibly easy to make. Sun-dried tomato and basil are a classic flavor combination, and this recipe from Minimalist Baker takes only 15 minutes to make. These pinwheels from Delightful Adventures are another great option and are packed with colorful veggies that will brighten up your spread. You can also customize your pinwheels to your liking: use hummus, vegan cream cheese, or your favorite plant-based dip or sauce and any array of veggies and herbs.
The portability of sandwiches makes them a must for any picnic. Of course, you can go for classic options like peanut butter and jelly, or feel free to pile on your favorite veggies and sauces. Try whipping up this vegan egg salad recipe from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken or a vegan tuna salad from The Simple Veganista. To really upgrade your sandwiches, cut them into smaller pieces to turn them into finger foods for adults and kids alike.
Potato and Pasta Salads
No outdoor feast is complete without potato and pasta salads, but many of these dishes are made with eggs and dairy. There are some delicious vegan potato and pasta salad recipes out there, though. This potato salad from Veganuary features an oil, vinegar and mustard dressing and is tossed with radishes, capers, chives, spring onions, and cornichons for plenty of bright, zippy flavors. For pasta salad, try this veggie-packed option from Food With Feeling.
Arguably the best part of any picnic is the dessert options, so don’t skimp here. If you want to keep it simple, try making a simple fruit salad or parfaits with dairy-free yogurt, granola, and fruit.
If you’re craving even more sweets, bake a batch of these fudgy vegan brownies from BBC Good Food. Another classic, these vegan chocolate chip cookies from Chocolate Covered Katie take only 11 minutes to make and will be a hit for even non-vegan picnic participants. For a zesty taste of spring, try these lemon bars from I Love Vegan.
Spending an hour or two in the sunshine is great, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Consider bringing along a sealable drink container with some other tasty beverages. Watermelon juice, like this one from 40 Aprons, is just the right amount of sweet, and this homemade lemonade will pair perfectly with the lemon bars. No time to mix drinks? Keep your reusable water bottle on hand to fill with water, and maybe pick up a bottle of your favorite wine.