Vegan hot dogs are meat-free alternatives to traditional meat-based hot dogs. They are often a choice for people who follow a vegan diet and those who just want to eat healthier on occasion. Vegan hot dogs are generally lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than meat-based hot dogs.
People who are vegan follow a strict form of vegetarianism requiring that they eat no meat and no animal-based products. While a vegan hot dog is a vegetarian hot dog, a vegetarian — or “veggie” — hot dog is not necessarily vegan, because vegetarian hot dogs may contain dairy or eggs. Vegans can read ingredient labels to verify whether meatless hot dogs are truly vegan. Along with confirming individual ingredients, some packages may contain warnings that the hot dogs are made in factories that also process egg-based products, meaning some trace of egg may have slipped into an otherwise vegan product. Such a warning might be enough to turn a strict vegan away from buying that product.
Simply being a vegan hot dog doesn’t guarantee that a product will meet everyone’s dietary needs. For example, many vegan hot dogs use soy as a primary ingredient, and some people have soy allergies. Wheat and wheat gluten also are popular ingredients in meatless hot dogs, and both are linked to food allergies and sensitivities. Soy is sometimes grown with genetic modifications and pesticides, as well, and those chemical factors may turn off some vegans.
In general, though, vegan hot dogs are considered a healthier alternative to meat-based hot dogs. Studies have linked processed red meats to bowel cancer. Meat-based hot dogs also have been shown to increase a person’s odds of developing heart disease and diabetes.
For non-vegans, in particular, the taste of a meatless hot dog may be disappointing. Vegan hot dogs lack the fats, sugars and, well, meat found in traditional hot dogs. Those absences make it a challenge to duplicate the same kind of hot dog taste in a vegan product. That is not to say meatless hot dogs are necessarily bad. Just like a traditional hot dog, they also can be seasoned with spices and dressed up with condiments such as ketchup, mustard and relish.