Hot dog! Nathan’s adds vegan wiener to its Coney Island menu

A vegan hot dog from Nathan’s covered in mustard and sauerkraut.
Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Nathan’s Famous added a vegan hot dog to its vaunted menu this week, becoming the latest legacy eatery to enter the fast-growing plant-based food market.

The veggie frank, the result of a partnership with British plant-based food company Meatless Farm, was rolled out on Monday at 13 locations in the tri-state area, including at its century-old Coney Island flagship.

The vegan dog has been available to order online since April, but only as part of a six-piece meal kit including buns and mustard retailing for $44.99. Six dogs alone costs $39.99.

The wieners are made with Nathan’s secret spice recipe, the chain says. They are also “rich in protein, low in saturated fat, low in sodium, [and] gluten and soy free,” per signage at the restaurant.

Brooklyn Paper sent vegetarian correspondent Ben Brachfeld to the Coney Island flagship to try one of the newfangled frankfurters on Tuesday. He got a vegan hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, cheese fries, and a lemonade for $14.69, which he promptly enjoyed at one of the tables outside the establishment.

While he wasn’t sure what hot dogs were supposed to taste like after a long hiatus in consuming them, he gave high marks to the new dog. “That was a good, ethical weenie,” Brachfeld said after finishing. He afterwards rode the Thunderbolt.

The inside of a Nathan’s vegan hot dog.Photo by Ben Brachfeld

While vegetarians and vegans can rejoice about getting to finally have the full Nathan’s experience, they may have to wait at least another year before they can join its celebrated hot dog eating contest.

A spokesperson for Major League Eating, the contest’s promoter and organizer, said that the July 4 contest will not allow competitors to eat vegan dogs, as they have not researched whether the contents of the vegan dog lead to a comparable level of fullness as does the traditional frank; if they don’t, a vegan dog eater could be at either an advantage or disadvantage over traditional hot dog consumers.

“From Major League Eating’s perspective, it would be hard to have one person competing with a different product than another person,” said spokesperson George Shea. “You could argue that it’s not apples-to-apples.”

“The issue is that the vegan dogs are just now coming to market,” he continued. “So we’re in very early days on that.”

The author while riding the Thunderbolt at Coney Island’s Luna Park, after enjoying a vegan Nathan’s hot dog.Thunderbolt at Coney Island