Summer weekends are nothing short of a grill lover's dream. After all, nothing says sunny weather and longer days better than grilled 'dogs, burgers and sausage sandwiches.
However, if you're on a plant-based diet (aka flexitarian) and still want to enjoy some grilled fare, trust that vegan hot dogs will satisfy your tastebuds with the festive flavors you love — without skimping out on protein.
At the same time, shopping for the best plant-based sausages may be confusing, considering there are so many different options available. To narrow down your search, we tapped several dietitians to break down what to look for when choosing plant-based sausages, and share the best ones to buy, many with over 13 grams of protein.
What to Look for in a Vegan Hot Dog
- Low sodium content. "Plant-based sausage should not have higher sodium than pork sausage," says dietitian Trista Best, RD. "Look for a product that contains less than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving, but that can be hard to find."
- Protein: "To achieve adequate protein and taste of traditional meat many manufacturers must use plant proteins," Best tells us. "These are either soy protein, pea protein, wheat gluten or a combination of all three."
- Nutrients: "Sometimes, plant-based meat is not healthier than regular animal meat — it can continue way more sodium and can lack nutrients such as iron and B vitamins," says Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD. "It is important to choose sausages that still provide a substantial amount of protein and nutrients. Otherwise, you could be eating something that is not all that healthy or as nutrient-packed."
What to Watch Out For
- High sodium content: "Some plant-based meat alternatives can be high in sodium," says dietitian Holly Klamer, RDN. Most Americans already get too much sodium in their diet anyway."
- Highly processed ingredients: "If the ingredient label has a long list with unfamiliar words, it is probably considered highly processed," Klamer adds. "Choose plant-based sausages that are based on whole foods."
Look to this list of dietitian-approved plant-based hot dogs to make this weekend your tastiest one yet.
The Best Vegan Sausage Brands to Buy
1. Very Good Butchers Apple & Sage Bangers
Per one link: 190 calories, 4.5 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated fat), 390 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates (5 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 2 grams added sugar), 27 grams protein.
"Just one link provides 27 grams of protein and a mere 4.5 grams of fat," Best says. "This plant-based sausage is also unique in that it provides 15 percent of our daily iron needs, another important nutrient for vegan dieters to ensure they take in."
Buy it: Verygoodbutchers.com; Price: $9.50
2. Sweet Earth Chik'n Apple Sausage
Per one link: 190 calories, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 400 milligrams sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates (1 gram fiber, 5 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 15 grams protein.
"Sweet Earth has developed a seriously high-protein vegan sausage, which is important for the vegan dieter," says Best. "Just one link provides 15 grams of lean, plant-based protein. Overall, this is an option you can be confident is fueling your body without adding unwanted ingredients."
Buy it: Instacart.com; Price: $8.99
3. Beyond Sausage Brat Original
Per one cooked link: 190 calories, 12 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat), 500 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 16 grams protein.
This hot dog is relatively low in calories yet provides plenty of nutrients, says Dr. Avena. "It offers 22 percent of your daily value of iron and only has 190 calories per serving. It also has way less saturated fat than that of pork sausage."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $8.99
4. Field Roast Smoked Apple & Sage Plant-Based Sausages
Per one sausage: 220 calories, 8 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated fat), 560 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates (0 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 23 grams protein.
"This sausage provides 23 grams of protein per serving," says dietitian Mary-Catherine LaBossiere, RD, MPH. "This option has no added sugars, although it should be noted that one serving provides nearly 600 milligrams of sodium." Be sure to drink plenty of water along with it, to help offset the salt.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $6.49
5. No Evil Foods The Stallion
Per one link: 160 calories, 2 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat), 770 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 25 grams protein.
"Aside from its high protein content (25 grams), this pack of Italian sausages are low in fat and calories, and are packed with flavorful organic spices such as cayenne, garlic powder, smoked paprika and chili flakes," says dietitian Stacy Roberts-Davis, RD, LDN. "I personally love to add these sausages into pasta dishes and salads."
And yes, these plant-based sausages are high in sodium — 770 milligrams per link. However, Roberts-Davis explains that this can be part of a healthy diet if you choose low-sodium foods for the rest of the day to balance it out. "My number one suggestion is cooking your own meals so you are in control of what's in your food," she adds.
Buy it: Instacart.com; Price: $7.69
6. Meatless Farm Plant-Based Breakfast Sausage
Per two sausages: 280 calories, 19 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat), 600 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 17 grams protein.
"While this breakfast sausage is higher in sodium, it's a fantastic source of filling protein with 17 grams per serving," says dietitian Diana Cariglio-Clelland, RD. Plus, the serving size is two links, so if you'd like to cut down on the sodium, just have one.
"It's also a good source of fiber, which can help protect against certain gastrointestinal disorders, and is also an excellent source of iron (with 25% of the daily value), a common nutrient that vegetarians and vegans can be deficient in."
Buy it: Meatlessfarm.com; Price: $6.99
7. Lightlife Plant-Based Italian Sausage
Per one cooked link: 210 calories, 15 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 500 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, <1 gram added sugar), 14 grams protein.
"This pick has 14 grams of protein, 25 percent of your daily value of iron and has no GMOs, soy or gluten," Dr. Avena says. "These sausages are really good for anyone who does not eat meat, as well as those who have additional dietary restrictions."
Buy it: Instacart.com; Price: $8.99
8. MorningStar Farms Original Veggie Sausage Patties
Per one patty: 80 calories, 3 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat), 230 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fiber, <1 gram sugar), 9 grams protein.
"This high-quality sausage alternative imitates traditional sausage in taste and texture," Best says. "It only contains 3 grams of fat, none of which is from saturated fat, and 230 milligrams of sodium. Just one patty provides a significant amount of protein at 9 grams and 2 grams of dietary fiber, both of which will keep you feeling full and satisfied."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $3.99
9. Pure Farmland Plant-Based Breakfast Patties
Per one patty: 80 calories, 5 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated fat), 180 milligrams sodium, 4 grams carbohydrates (1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, <0 grams added sugar), 6 grams protein.
"This brand has developed a gluten-free, plant-based sausage option by foregoing wheat gluten and opting for soy protein concentrate," Best tells us. "With 5 grams of fat and 180 milligrams of sodium per serving, Pure Farmland's nutrient-dense sausage alternative will truly add to your health goals rather than take away from them."
Buy it: Instacart.com; Price: $7.69
- TheVeryGoodButchers: "Apple & Sage Bangers"
- Sweet Earth: "Chick'n Apple Sausage"
- Lightlife.com: "Plant-Based Italian Sausage"
- Pure Farmland: "Plant-Based Breakfast Patties"
- MorningStarFarms: "Veggie Original Sausage Patties"
- Meatless Farms: "Plant-Based Breakfast Sausage"
- No Evil Foods: "The Stallion"
- Field Roast: "Smoked Apple & Sage Plant-Based Sausages"
- Beyond Meat: "Beyond Sausage Brat Original"