Perhaps one of the most fascinating topics related to veganism is the phenomenon of vegan meats. Going meat-free can still allow you to enjoy similar tastes and textures you may miss, including burgers, deli meat, and even Korean-style ribs!
The Herbivorous Butcher decided to change the game and become the first vegan butcher shop in the nation! The brother and sister duo, Aubry and Kale Walch opened the shop in Minneapolis in January 2016. The Herbivorous Butcher has a focus on small-batch, locally-sourced, and all-natural meat and cheese alternatives. They even have vegan Porterhouse steak and vegan feta cheese made with almonds!
You’re probably wondering what vegan meat is made of. It’s generally made from vital wheat gluten, which helps give it a meaty-like texture. Soy is also often times used.
I decided to stop into The Herbivorous Butcher and see what types of vegan meats they had to offer, and here is what I found!
I decided to take home a pound of the Korean Ribs, and they were SO good! Perhaps a future recipe post?
The Herbivorous Butcher also has a gift/condiment area, where they sell vegan mayo, salsas, sauces, and other cool stuff!
But let’s get to the most exciting stuff, my interview with Aubry and Kale from The Herbivorous Butcher!
PBG: How long have you been vegan, and how did you start?
Aubry: I went vegan when I was 14 and bagging groceries. A cellophane-wrapped piece of chicken came through and it was leaking and gross, and then I realized it had once been a living being. That night, I called my mom and told her I was having my last meal with animal products.
Kale: It took a while for me to catch up to Aubry, but I decided to go vegan for health reasons. I was 200 pounds and my nickname was Butterball. So I wanted to go into college with a fresh start, and being vegan helped me do that.
PBG: Did you find it easy or difficult to go vegan on a budget? Any tips?
Kale: Eating vegan on a budget is actually easier than when I was on a budget as an omnivore. Rice, lentils and beans are so readily available and cheap, and you can jazz them up easily.
Aubry: For me it was eating on the go that was the biggest problem, so I like to be prepared by either packing a protein bar or other kind of food, or I’ll learn about the food in the area that I’ll be in. PETA has some really good resources on their website about how to eat vegan at almost all fast food restaurants. Also, I never judge a book by its cover, I ALWAYS read packages because things that may not seem vegan often are. And don’t be afraid to ask questions at restaurants. Beans, veggies, and grains are all super cheap so instead of buying boxed or frozen foods which tend to break the bank, I’ll stock up on those three groups and then add in vegan meat and cheese alternatives with the money I have left. And shop in the bulk section of co-ops, it’s much cheaper. Although a lot people can’t get to a Costco, if you have a car, Costco is a treasure trove of savings on beans, veggies, and grains.
PBG: How did The Herbivorous Butcher originate?
Aubry: Even though we no longer wanted to consume animal products, we missed the flavors and textures we enjoyed while growing up so we started making our own products. Then one day, I told Kale that we should open a vegan butcher shop. We laughed for awhile and then all of a sudden, we both got quiet and realized we could be onto something.
PBG: It’s so awesome that you guys are growing and have great success! What’s next for the business? –maybe some details about the farm animal sanctuary?
Aubry: We just secured land in Milaca, MN for our farm sanctuary! (Details here) We’d also love to expand but don’t have anything secured yet.
PBG: What’s your favorite vegan food item and why?
Kale: I make a really good fried rice with our Bulgogi. It’s all about the special vegan shrimp sauce.
Aubry: Kale took my answer! My comfort food is rice and soy sauce.