Summer is here and there’s no better time to get grilling on the BBQ. These vegan meat hot dogs and franks make for the best summer cook-out ever.
What Is a Vegan Hot Dog?
Americans eat more than 150 million hot dogs on Independence day alone, but a growing number of consumers are choosing plant-based meat for animal welfare, environmental, and health reasons.
Vegan hot dogs look, cook, and taste like conventional hot dogs but are made without any animal products. They can be made from a number of ingredients, including blended vegetables, soy protein, pea protein, or wheat gluten.
The casing of a traditional hot dog can be made from animal intestine, but on a vegan hot dog, it’s often made from cellulose or another plant-based ingredient.
Vegan Hot Dog Ingredients
A survey from 2018 found that nearly half of Americans are afraid to know what is in their animal-based hot dogs.
While conventional hot dogs feature meat trimmings from pork, beef, and chicken industries mixed with food starch, flavorings, corn syrup, and sodium nitrate (which turns the meat slurry from grey to a more consumer-friendly reddish brown), manufacturers make vegan hot dogs meaty with various plant-based ingredients.
Moving Mountains’ hot dog is made mostly of sunflower seeds, which are rich in B complex vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, and protein. The company uses carrots to give the meat its color, onion to provide the “firm and bouncy texture,” and paprika to bring a kick of flavor. Coconut oil is used to make the meat juicy and help maintain its structure.
Peas, which are a good source of protein and fiber, are another common ingredient cropping up in plant-based hot dogs, as is soy. Faba bean protein and garlic are other ingredients found in vegan hot dog recipes.
Are Hot Dogs Unhealthy?
In 2015, the World Health Organization named processed meat a Group 1 carcinogen, a category used when there is “sufficient” and “convincing” evidence to say that something causes cancer in humans. Tobacco smoking and asbestos are also in this category.
Twenty-two experts from 10 countries reviewed more than 800 studies to come up with this conclusion. The research found that eating 50 grams of processed meat a day—about four strips of bacon or one hot dog—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Processed meat consumption has also been linked to bladder and stomach cancer.
Eating hot dogs could also increase the risk of childhood leukemia by up to 950 percent, according to American physician Dr. Michael Greger. “Diet is the number one cause of cancer. Cancer is, therefore, a preventable disease, but it does require major lifestyle changes,” he says on his website. “Only 5 to 10 percent of cancer is in our genes, our family history. The other 90 to 95 percent of cancer risk is caused by what we expose our bodies to.”
In 2018, two children’s hospitals in the U.S. removed hot dogs from their patient cafeterias due to health concerns. Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana and Kentucky Children’s Hospital made the decision after receiving a letter from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit research and advocacy organization that promotes preventive medicine and has a focus on plant-based foods.
The letter highlighted the health risks posed by processed meats, including colon and breast cancer. Following the hospitals’ change, Susan Levin, director of nutrition education for PCRM, named the hospitals “leaders in preventing diet-related diseases.”
The Best Vegan Hot Dogs for Grilling
1. Tofurky’s Jumbo Hot Dog
Known for its iconic holiday roast, Tofurky is now a leader in the plant-based meat market with slices, sausages, tempeh, and even vegan ham. But you can also get your summer sizzling with Tofurky’s Jumbo Hot Dogs. The ingredients include pea protein and organic tofu and they pack 17 grams of protein per serving (pork hot dogs contain 10 grams per serving).
These cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free XXL dogs pair well with any of your favorite toppings. Tofurky recommends relish, onions, peppers, hot sauce, guacamole, crumbled-up potato chips, or kimchi. Let your imagination run wild.
2. Field Roast’s Frankfurter
Bratwurst, smoked apple sausage, Italian, and Mexican chipotle are some of Field Roast’s offerings, but it’s possible that the best link to have on your grill this summer is its vegan frankfurter.
The ingredients include fresh garlic, fresh onion, and Field Roast’s traditional blend of spices. You can grill, sauté, steam, or microwave the plant-based frankfurter, which carries 21 grams of protein per link.
Load it with fermented cabbage and cashew cheese, or any toppings your heart desires, and chow down.
3. Lightlife’s Jumbo Smart Dog
Go for Jumbo Smart Dogs if you’re after juicy, flavorful hot dogs that stay true to the “ultimate summertime classic.” The vegan dogs, which can be grilled, sautéd, or boiled, are made with soy protein and pea protein and contain no cholesterol.
Lightlife also makes plant-based beef burgers, which would cook up quite nicely beside your Smart Dogs. Get grilling.
4. Beyond Meat’s Brat Original
Plant-based meat brand Beyond Meat, perhaps best known for its “bleeding” vegan beef burgers, also makes Beyond Sausages which are begging to be barbequed.
Beyond Meat’s bratwurst is made with ingredients like pea protein, faba bean protein, and sunflower oil. Each cooked link delivers 16 grams of protein. The plant-based Brat Original also has no trans fat or cholesterol.
Beyond Meat’s vegan sausages—available in two flavors: Brat Original and Hot Italian—have even won the approval of a pork expert. The vice president of the U.S. National Pork Board admitted that the vegan sausage’s flavor was “close” to animal-based pork.
Serve it with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut, and enjoy.
5. Yves’s Good Dog
Your backyard barbeque will be the talk of the town with Yves’s Good Dogs. This vegan meat tastes just like its pork counterpart, according to the brand, yet contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, but still carries good amounts of protein and iron. Get creative with your toppings and get that grill blazing.
6. Loma Linda’s Big Franks
Plant-based protein brand Loma Linda, which makes vegan tinned tuna, sells vegan franks in a can. Its Big Franks offer the full-flavored taste of a conventional hot dog along with good amounts of protein and vitamin B12.
The pre-cooked, shelf-stable franks contain 58 percent less fat than beef hot dogs. Each 20 oz. can contain eight full-sized hot dogs, so there’s plenty to go around.
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