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Hot diggity (vegan) dog

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Vegan hotdogs on a barbecue, with cooked ones on the left side of the grill and uncooked ones on the right side
The vegan hotdogs for sale were cooked “street-dog style” and served with grill-toasted buns.

Vegan hotdog stand Rainbow Dogs fired up its grill on Sept. 29 for the stand’s grand opening outside of the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.

A group of people stand in front of an SPCA waiting in line for a hotdog. In the forefront of the picture is a woman with black hair, a grey sweater, and dark grey pants, a man with a blue t-shirt and jean shorts holding a medium-sized brown dog on a black leash.
Rainbow Dog customers included SPCA visitors and employees. 

Rainbow Dogs co-owner Crystal Brzozowski said the initial idea for the stand started after trying the vegan version of a classic street hotdog. 

“I had a really good vegan street dog in Toronto, and I didn’t even know those existed [before],” Brzozowski said. “Afterwards, I was really craving one and I assumed there would be one in Hamilton because there’s such a big vegan scene but there wasn’t.” 

Customers lined up to try a vegan hot dog as co-owner Sarah Walsh ran the grill. All the typical hotdog fixings like ketchup and relish were available, as well as toppings like dairy-free queso and vegan bacon bits. 

A closeup picture of two vegan hotdog being held side by side. One has vegan bacon bits and ketchup and the other hotdog has vegan bacon bits and queso
Customers could top their dogs with crunchy vegan bacon bits and smoky dairy-free queso for 95 cents extra per topping.

Half of all the funds raised at the event went to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. Walsh and Brzozowski said they chose the SPCA because of their love for animals and because they both have rescue pets. 

Michelle Macnab, director of digital communications and community event services for the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA, said events like Rainbow Dogs’ grand opening are a great way to raise money to help care for the animals at the shelter. 

“It’s an amazing partnership,” Macnab said. “We always love it when a community program can come and join together with us. This [Rainbow Dogs] is a plant-based product, which we always love to support.” 

A dog sits on the ground with his tongue out. The dog is being held on a black leash by a person wearing black shoes and grey shorts
Arlo was one of the dogs up for adoption that was brought to the event.

Walsh and Brzozowski said that they will keep on grilling at pop-up locations and various events going forward. 

“Right now, we’re just kind of doing pop-ups and the Grain & Grit Brewery,” Brzozowski said. “They’ve asked us to come in as a semi-regular event through the winter.” 

Both co-owners encourage people who have not had vegan food to give their hotdogs a shot. 

“Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Walsh said. “You wouldn’t even know the difference between the hotdogs.” 

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