Hot and Ready: Light Up the Grill this Summer with Vegan Hot Dogs
Thanks to legacy brands and indie newcomers alike, you can char up meat made from plants, not pigs.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Hot dogs are, one might say, a hot topic. On one hand they're tasty, simple, and great on the grill; on the other, their composition is a little suspect and they're often regarded as kid's food.
But with summer in full swing, grills lit, and baseball games underway, they're worth revisiting. Like many American kids, I grew up on hot dogs, and if I'm being honest, I never got sick of them. The difference is that nowadays, like many other shoppers, I have higher standards for my dogs — first and foremost, they've got to be plant-based.
Related: Thinking Outside the Box: How Vegan and Vegetarian Brands Are Reinventing Frozen Pizza
Grill in the great outdoors (or the great backyard)
Vegan hot dogs have been around — well, longer than any of us. All-vegetarian brand Loma Linda has been around for over a century, and one of their core products throughout that time has been and continues to be their canned Big Franks, made primarily from wheat and soy. It's an old product, but you wouldn't know it by the taste — savory, delicious, and comparable to newer-wave vegan dogs you'd find at the grocery store. They're pre-cooked, too, making them perfect for some quick grilling or fire roasting (or just eating straight from the can) when you're out camping under the stars.
Other legacy brands have long fueled vegetarian BBQs, such as Lightlife. The popular meatless brand sells their Smart Dogs and Jumbo Smart Dogs, which are just as great for backyard parties as they are for a quick meal in a pinch. Another staple, Tofurky, offers vegan hot dogs of their own. They're big, tasty, and made of wheat, pea protein, and tofu. If you've got the grill going, you're only a few minutes away from a beautifully charred veg dog.
Related: In Times of Uncertainty, Shelf-Stable, Vegan Foods Make Consumers Feel a Little More Secure
Take me out to the ballgame
Some of the newer players in the plant-based sector have put their own spin on the classic. Field Roast, in addition to their classic smoked frankfurters, has a new offering as of this year: the Signature Stadium Dog, made primarily from pea protein and seasoned to perfection. Chicago-based brand Upton's Naturals, best known for their seitan products, has a dog of their own as well. Made from vital wheat gluten (no soy), Upton's never fails to perfectly flavor their products and the dog is no exception. Guess we shouldn't have expected any less from a company based in the Windy City, arguably the hot dog capital of the world. Veggie brand Sweet Earth recently debuted a vegan dog. Theirs is made primarily of pea and potato proteins, big enough to fill out a bun (don't you hate small hot dogs?), and extremely grill-able.
If you're looking for something completely different, Bolthouse Farms has just the thing: carrot dogs. You probably know Bolthouse Farms from their bottled smoothies and salad dressings, but the brand has recently made a leap into the plant-based meat sector. While most of the dogs mentioned here are made from a base of soy, wheat, and/or pea protein, their dogs are primarily made of the humble carrot. That, plus a whopping blend of seasonings, comes together to form a hot dog option that at 30 calories, is by far the lightest on the market. So, have a few. I won't tell.
It's 2021 — there's no need for vegans to feel food FOMO when it comes to many classic, favorite foods. Hot dogs for all palates are just waiting to light up your backyard parties and ballpark tailgates — made from plants, not pigs.
Related: Don't Forget the Mustard: Small, Eco-Friendly, Health-Conscious Companies are Conquering Condiments