What are the best vegetarian hot dogs? We put several leading brands to the test!
I’m not exactly sure I want to know the entire history behind the invention of hot dogs, but I’m pretty sure the Germans have something to do with it. Perhaps that’s why even as a vegan, I have a love for veggie hot dogs. My choice to avoid meat products may be a result of my own will, but my German roots run deep in my taste buds where my love for the hot dog resides even after more than two decades as a vegan.
Sure, vegetarians can opt for healthier grilling foods like veggie kabobs, grilled eggplant or the homemade veggie burger, but barbecue season is hot dog season. It’s a fun grilling ritual, and hot dogs are easy to eat. For the newbie vegetarian or vegan, or even for the meat-eater looking to cut down their meat intake, veggie dogs can be a great option.
So, which are the best vegetarian hot dogs?
Here’s the thing about veggie dogs: they’re pretty processed. That doesn’t mean they have to contain yucky ingredients, but it’s hard to find a veggie dog with under a dozen ingredients. That being said, here are my top picks for best vegetarian hot dogs.
Ingredients: Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed safflower oil, organic expeller pressed palm fruit oil, barley malt, naturally flavored yeast extract, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, paprika, sea salt, onions, spices, whole wheat flour, garlic, natural liquid smoke, caraway, celery seed, ground yellow mustard, paprika oleoresin.
Hands down, Field Roast’s Vegetarian Frankfurters comes out on top. It’s a wheat-based dog, but the ingredients are about as clean as you can get. There are no fillers, stabilizers or questionable ingredients. In fact, it reads like something you could make at home. Because these are wheat gluten-based dogs, there’s no risk of genetically modified ingredients (they don’t contain soy or canola oils either), but they are not an option for people avoiding wheat. The flavor is on point, as is the texture. Each dog packs 21 grams of plant protein too. But they contain a whole lot of sodium: 690 milligrams per dog. That’s nearly one-third of the recommended daily intake. Still, for a special grilling occasion, if you want a vegetarian dog that measures up, this is the one.
Ingredients Water, vital wheat gluten, expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil, pea protein, organic tofu (water, organic soybeans, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride), spices, sea salt, onion powder, organic cane sugar, natural vegetarian flavors, oat fiber, carrageenan, konjac flour, natural smoke flavor, granulated garlic, wheat starch, paprika and annatto.
If it weren’t for the good people at Tofurky we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion! While hot dogs are a new addition to the brand’s line-up of mock meat products, Tofurky is the go-to brand for great-tasting meat-free slices, holiday roasts and sausages. The Tofurky Hot Dog also nails the traditional dog flavor and texture. It’s a non-GMO product, using a mixture of tofu (soy) and wheat. The soy ingredients aren’t extracted with hexane, which is pretty rare among the soy options out there, but the product does contain carrageenan, a stabilizing agent that’s been linked to digestive issues and even cancer. It has half the sodium content of Field Roast, but half the protein too. Tofurky also makes Beer Brats and kielbasa that can sub-in for a hot dog. They have meaty taste and textures too and hold up on the grill.
Ingredients: water, isolated soy protein, vital wheat gluten, tofu (water, soybeans), natural flavors (contains autolyzed yeast, yeast extract), salt, wheat starch, evaporated cane juice powder, canola oil, spice, seasoning (spices, dehydrated onion), carrageenan, vitamins & minerals (thiamin hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, calcium panthothenate, ferric orthophosphate, iron oxide, zinc oxide, dimagnesium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate), paprika and beet powder (for color), extractives of spices.
The original Yves veggie dog, the Tofu Dogs are rich in dog flavor and texture, even if the ingredients are less than appetizing. The brand is enrolled in the Non-GMO project verification, but at publish date, has not been certified yet.
Ingredients: water, isolated soy protein, vital wheat gluten, natural flavors, salt, wheat starch, evaporated cane juice powder, spices, carrageenan, vitamins & minerals (thiamin hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, calcium panthothenate, ferric orthophosphate, iron oxide, zinc oxide, dimagnesium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate), beet powder and paprika (for color).
The Yves Meatless Hot Dog is the sister pup to the original Tofu Dogs. It boasts a grilling-friendly seal and an “authentic, traditional flavor.” It’s good, almost as good as the original Tofu Dog, but again, the ingredients aren’t fabulous.
Ingredients: Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Wheat Gluten, Cane Juice Evaporated, Salt, Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Garlic Granulated, Carrageenan, Spices Extract, Flavors Natural (from, Vegetables Sources), Vegetables Gum, Flavors Natural Smoke, Potassium Chloride, Tomatoes Pulp
Smart Dogs have been around for a long time for one simple reason: People really like them. While they score an F rating on FoodFacts.com (high sodium and controversial flavoring ingredients), it’s still a pretty tasty veggie dog that’s made without GMO soy.
What are your picks for the best vegetarian hot dogs? Let us know in the comments!
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Related on EcoSalon