The first vegan “butcher” shop opened in Minneapolis over the weekend, with much fanfare and long queues of food enthusiasts lining up to taste the new flavors.
The “Herbivorous Butcher” in northeast Minneapolis crafts and sells vegan faux meats, flavored to taste like Italian sausage, kielbasa and porterhouse steaks. It also offers many different vegan cheeses.
Siblings Kale and Aubry Walch, the proud owners, were thrilled with the turnout. Aubry Walch said the following.
“It’s more than we could ever expect or wish for.”
The growing demand for meat coupled with its many negative environmental impacts inspired the siblings to help facilitate the change at the dinner table. Kale Walch explained the following.
“We make meat-free meats and cheese-free cheeses, and we call it that for a reason because it’s not just a meat alternative.”
The Herbivorous Butcher provides small-batch and locally sourced meat alternatives that are fresh and flavorful. In order to create realistic-tasting meat, the Walches use nutritional yeast to create savory flavors and incorporate a variety of beans, herbs, and juices. Aubry Walch said the following.
“It starts with a serious craving and ends with a product.”
Kale Walch said the following.
“We started (the Herbivorous Butcher) because we were getting hungry all the time and the stuff on the market wasn’t doing anything. We’re still hungry, still making food we want to eat.”
The Minneapolis Public Radio News reported that the Walches’ food experiments began in 2013, when they were making meat alternatives for their own consumption. After receiving positive feedback from friends, the pair decided to share their creations with the Twin Cities. They began with a stand at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, which later evolved into pop-ups around the metro, and now a concrete shop.
They sought help from Kickstarter to fund their business plans. Surprisingly, the Herbivorous Butcher campaign managed to raise more than $60,000. Since then, the vegan butcher shop has gathered support from all over the world. Kale Walch said the following.
“The Kickstarter was the first time we got that validation from people other than our regular customers. It was crazy getting all these people from all around the country and around the world. That’s when I think the both of us knew we can actually do this.”
Despite the fact that the siblings’ main source of inspiration is their stomachs, nonetheless their customers also contribute in their menu planning. Many of the Herbivorous Butcher’s products began with customer suggestions, such as vegan pork chops. Kale said the following.
“Jeremy Messersmith agreed to come to our grand opening and play a few songs — if we could make him a particular French cheese that’s got black mold all over it. It’s not that intense most of the time, but that’s kind of how it goes.”
In Walches’ family, meat is tradition. Raised in a Guamanian household, where meat formed the major ingredient of their diets, the two genuinely understand the difficulty of transitioning to veganism. Since childhood, the two have been exposed to a diverse variety of Korean, Japanese, and Spanish food. Kale said the following.
“Having a big old piece of meat that sticks to your ribs or cutting up a roast with your family or slicing up a piece of turkey for Thanksgiving — it’s just kind of a habit.”
Aubry notes that there are ways to maintain tradition while switching over to a more ethical, healthy diet.
“The reason why we do this is so that it’s not difficult for omnivores. They don’t have to be like, ‘Oh I’m just going to eat beans and rice for the rest of my life.’ You can still eat steak; all you gotta do is sub it out,’ “
Compared to other meat substitutes on the market, the Walches believe their products rank higher in terms of texture, flavor and nutrition.
“It’s arguably better than the (animal products) because during the process we can infuse so much flavor into every molecule and protein itself. You just can’t do that with a cow.”
On Saturday, two women with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) braved the cold in lettuce wrap bikinis braved to hand out free samples.
The Herbivorous Butcher is located at 507 1st Avenue NE in northeast Minneapolis.
[Image via The Herbivorous Butcher]