Carnist BBQs are the worst. I have attended them before and regretted it… it’s just so uncomfortable being around burning flesh, and especially uncomfortable that people are celebrating it. I decline BBQ invites at this point too—I think you did the right thing.
Some people would say that skipping this event is a missed opportunity to educate people, but I think that rejecting it entirely has a bigger impact. It’s inconsistent to tell people about how violent and unjust it is to eat animals while casually standing there as people are setting animals’ bodies on fire. At this point I’d only attend a BBQ if I planned to put out the fire and bury their bodies.
I hope your friend takes you up on the vegan BBQ. It sounds like you’re doing great work to affect your friends. Nice job, keep it up!