Skip to Main Content

What’s in a Hot Dog?

Eating vegan has plenty of perks: With vegan foods, you don’t hurt animals with your meals, support environmental degradation, or absorb unnecessary animal fats.

But there’s another reason to eat vegan: You save yourself from ingesting some of the surprising ingredients in meat.

A 2011 article in The Local East Village said that hot-dog eaters get much more than they bargain for, including glass, plastic, metal, bone, rodents, and other miscellaneous ingredients, when they chow down on animal flesh. Lost your lunch yet?

It’s pretty gross, and we got to thinking: How do meat hot dogs match up to vegan dogs, not only in nasty ingredients but also in heart-healthy ones?

We matched up Sarah Lee’s Ballpark Hot Dog and a Jumbo Vegan Smart Dog for comparison. The contest was not even close. Check it out for yourself:

Sara Lee’s Ball Park Hot Dog

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Main Ingredients: mechanically separated turkey, water, pork, corn syrup, beef


Jumbo Vegan Smart Dog

  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Main Ingredients: water, soy protein isolate, wheat, gluten, evaporated cane juice


In case you’re not familiar with the term, “mechanically separated turkey,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a “paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sive or similar device under high pressure ….”

Tasty, huh? We’ll take the aptly named Smart Dogs any day.

What about you? What’s your favorite brand of veggie dog?

Commenting is closed.
  • Heather Joel says:

    I love the Yves Veggie Cuisine jumbo veggie dogs.They are delicious both hot and cold!!





  • Dana says:

    I would still rather eat “isolates/concentrates” than the stuff that goes into meat hot dogs. True, some of the “veggie meats”do have their own strange ingredients but things like mechanically separated turkey makes me sick just hearing that word. Veggie meats have come a long way and one of the best veggie dogs for me is Yves jumbo veggie dogs. Brush a bit of olive oil on them and grill them up!

  • Katy says:

    I really like the lightlife hot dogs. I dont like any of the fake meats but the hot dogs are way better than the others

  • Maria says:

    Any of the meat alternatives have their own problems because eating any of the isolates/concentrates is unhealthy with multiple scientific studies showing it…..I too wish they would come up with a healthier version of the alternatives

  • olddognewtricks says:

    Interested to know a good vegan alternative. Boiled it, fried it, baked it, even microwaved it, but found the Smart Dog casing rubbery.

  • Cindy says:

    Not a hard choice. My babies won’t touch a real hotdog maybe they know…

  • Tracy says:

    @Tynee- it’s more money because because not enough people buy it, they buy the cheap processed meats. It was on “The Doctors” not to long ago that if enough people actually spent the money now on the better stuff, that eventually the prices would come down, same goes for the organic meats. I wish more people would choose this route so meat prices went up even more, forcing people to not buy it, so less animals died each year 🙁

  • thomas moore says:

    YUCH! No more Hot Dogs for me and my 2 dogs.

  • taygirl4eva says:

    I haven’t eaten pig or cow for about 8 years now (not on purpose anyway) and i can go up to a cow or pig and say “I don’t eat you anymore” and i feel good about it! I do still eat chicken, turkey and seafood. I have tried the veggie hotdogs and they are gross. I like veggie burgers (Burger King has a tasty one)and Boca Burgers and turkey burgers. They are healthier for you and taste great!

  • Paulette Simpson says:

    If ever I get to craving a hot dog (and I won’t!!)All I have to do is remember the poor pigs on their way to slaughter in the huge trucks going down the highway. I think about what they will endure and suffer just to put a hot dog on a bun. Even as big as they are, they are so cute and pink. I cry when I see them. Paulette

  • Mallory says:

    Actually, with regard to the price, my local supermarket offers Smart Dogs for $2.99/8-pack of links. My meat-eating friends claim that it is cheaper than their regular hot dogs. I’m sure price varies from place to place, but for me it’s a smart choice all-around!

  • Ben Adam says:

    GMO soy is not smart. Nor is it an acceptable source of nutrition, as it will (eventually) kill you.
    Stop promoting soy as a protein substitute. All the soy and corn has been removed from the equation by Monsanto, DuPont, and the rest of that club.

  • Debz Jones says:

    That’s why I am Vegan!!!, enough said!!!

  • Dominika Vegan says:


  • Robin says:

    @Tynee – ever hear the phrase, “you get what you pay for”? This applies here. Crap is cheap to produce, so you pay less for crap and more for quality. Also, mass production of anything will drive down prices, so when more people start consuming veggie products, prices will eventually go down. The way I see it, this is stuff I put in my body, so I’m willing to pay more here and maybe skip all the extra crap that costs money that I don’t need, like daily Starbucks or the latest gadget.

  • chander kumar soni says:


  • karebee says:

    I can’t find anykind of veggie dogs at my local stores. Where can i find them.

  • Roy Rendahl says:

    I can see two reasons why meat-free products cost more. 1) The economy of scale: look how big the meat industry is, and how relatively few people are meat-free so far (that’s similar to the problems of alternative energy production). And that is how the meat industry can keep the next reason going. 2) People are not paying the real, true cost of meat: taxpayers are paying for production subsidies (from growing feed to transportation) and environmental clean up; we are paying higher medical care costs, from the personal health effects of eating meat to living in the environmental pollution of factory farming; and the animals are paying in fear, pain, and suffering!

  • nalva405 says:

    gross! and omg tons of sodium for any vegan/veggie foods!

  • Tierney says:

    Okay. That is disgusting. i am not a vegetarian never EVER eating hot dogs again.

  • Sam says:

    Veg’n convenience foods cost more because less people are purchasing them, the companies charge more to cover their overhead. So keep introducing your friends to awesome tasty Veg’n stuff so the prices come down 🙂

  • santinobee says:

    I’m deathly allergic to soy and it’s in absolutely everything. I’d love to see an alternative food item that isn’t soy based. It disrupts hormones and can be dangerous to eat to start with.

  • sandra says:

    It’s easy for “real” meat hot dogs to be cheaper, they get half of their ingredients from the local dumps. And nobody said being right was easy. I like Boca and Morning Star.

  • Louann Chapman says:

    I so agree with Jones’s comment about sodium. I am vegan but find most products are way too heavy in salt! I can’t get my rings off the next day. Can’t someone offer low sodium products PLEASE???

  • Veronica says:

    Veggie dogs are very good. Since I have become a vegetarian I have educated my husband how cruel it is to eat animals, with all those awful ingredients. He is now a vegetarian too.
    Peta you are the best keep up the good work. I became a vegetarian because of you!!!!!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Harley D… check out the PPK’s website. They have lots of soy-free vegan recipes!

  • molly says:

    smartdogs aren’t healthy! they’re packaged and processed just like the real ones.
    check that out.

  • jerry says:

    Best veggie dog on the planet is Field Roast. You pay a bit more,
    but one is plenty and they are so good you’ll never eat anything
    else when you crave a veggie dog.

  • Annette says:

    For a person allergic to wheat, the veggie hot dogs are out!

  • Vickie says:

    My father was a meat cutter and he did not allow us to eat
    hotdogs at our home. This should tell us something.

  • Adam says:

    If anyone’s looking for a soy-free veggie dog, you can try Field Roast’s new Frankfurters.. they’re not as highly processed as most veggie dogs

    Or try Tofurky’s new dogs, which I think for right now are only available at Whole Foods.. they do contain soy, but it’s not the processed soy protein that veggie dogs usually have

    Both are still really high in sodium though, so can’t help you there

  • Jude Ayer says:

    As for the expense, I only eat fake meats for quick lunches.

  • jeanie says:

    It did not come as a suprise to learn about hot dogs,think about all the other so called convienence foods most people eat.Makes you wonder whats in them?

  • Fleepmo says:

    Too bad soy products have so many adverse side effects on us. Soy is a double edge sword. What about all the estrogen in soy? I’d still rather eat it than meat but I keep my soy intake to a minimum.

  • Jude Ayer says:

    I wish I could forward some of your articles (like this one about hot dogs). Keep telling us about what’s in various “real meats”. How about pork sausages? MorningStar makes great sausages that don’t ooze grease and don’t contain those little bits of gristle or whatever it is.

  • Greg says:

    I like Smart Dogs on the grill with onions, peppers and mushrooms!

  • Sharon says:

    I tried the smart dogs, and I would rather eat the meat ones because they taste so bad. My dog wouldn’t even eat them. And they were twice as expensive. Makes it really hard to be vegetarian.

  • sadhuvedantmuni says:

    what are pouring in our diets they are. they are cheating as adding new names in pseudo names those are not acceptable by we pure vegetarians. stop eating and boycott these products.

  • Jane says:

    I LOVE lightlife products, also love Yves “good dogs”

  • Ronnie says:

    The hot dog ingredients are disgusting. Truth be told, the ingredients for the Vegan Smart Dogs don’t sound all that much better. I’ve tried giving these same vegan SmartLife hot dogs to my vegetarian children and none of them like them.
    I’m not a vegetarian. I still eat fish 2 or 3 days a week, as for the rest of my diet, it’s vegan. No dairy. I agree with most of the comments posted here. I’ve personally stopped eating veggie substitute foods – some contain dairy, too much sodium, expensive – and now I just eat beans, edamame, or tofu with my vegetables. It’s cheaper and healthier.

  • John says:

    What about kosher hot dogs? I rarely eat meat anyway. I get most of my protien from peanut butter. I love peanut butter, jelly on a tortia.

  • Amy says:

    Meat free products are more expensive because the wonderful government subsidizes the meat and dairy industry but not the vegetable industry. That way they try to keep you sick to keep the doctors, insurance companies, and big pharma in business.

  • Idont Eatflesh says:

    I make my own vegan sausages, also linda mccartney vegan sausages are awesome but not as good as mine !

  • Tynee says:

    Why is it that the meat FREE products cost more money? I thought the whole idea was to make the process EASIER for us to go vegetarian/vegan…

  • Kimi says:

    I love most veggie substitutes but I pretty much hate everything lightlife makes. 🙁

  • Harley D says:

    Yuck! I used to always eat hot dogs as a child… ughhh!

    HEY PETA! How about a few soy free recipes in you’re recipe section, or maybe some tips for people allergic to soy? I’m a (struggling) vegetarian now, and struggling to go vegan.

  • Jones says:

    I love eating meat alternatives but they are full of sodium, why is this? How can we get these veggie substitute companies to lower the sodium?! Not healthy 🙁

  • Steven says:

    This is why I don’t eat hotdog a you can see veggie dogs are better and healthier plus your more putting garbage in your body EAT SMART!