The Herbivorous Butcher: sausage and steak- but hold the massacre

At this newly opened vegan butcher shop in Minneapolis, you can find barbecue rib, pastrami and numerous cheese that savour like the real deal, as brother and sister Aubry and Kale Walch aim to repurpose the word butcher

In a newly opened butcher shop in north-east Minneapolis, clients can find hand-cut salami, Sriracha-flavored bratwursts, meatballs, and nearly any other cut of meat that comes to mind.

The only catch? Nothing in the store is made from an animal product. Everything at the Herbivorous Butcher is 100% vegan.

Two years ago, after learning about the environmental impact of eating meat from books and documentaries such as Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, brother-sister duo Kale and Aubry Walch started constructing vegan meats and cheeses themselves.

The Walches soon took their products on the road, selling them at farmers marketplaces and breweries across the midwest, before returning to Minneapolis and opening the Herbivorous Butcher on 23 January. More than 5,000 patrons visited the shop on its opening weekend.


More than 5,000 patrons visited the shop on its opening weekend in January. Photograph: Mike Ross for the Guardian

The idea for the business came from a shared concern for the environment, and a desire to spread awareness of the benefits of going meat-free.

The easiest way is just to offer an alternative and tell: Hey, you like meat. We do too. Why not make it plant-based? Aubry says. Aubry, 34, has been a vegetarian since she was 14 and became a vegan when she was 18. Kale( yes, thats his real name ), 22, became a vegan about five years ago.

To make the vegan meats, Aubry and Kale make doughs and broths out of different juices, vinegars, spices and herbs. The mixtures then get steamed, cooked or pan fried to savor just like real meat.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kale had just made a batch of porterhouse steaks from a mixture of tomato and apple juices, and garbanzo flour to get a meaty texture.

Were a bit like a savory bakery, Aubry says.

Creating the recipes took months of trial and error. For Valentines Day, Kale made a batch of filet mignon steaks that did not come off so well with customers.


To attain the vegan meat, Aubry and Kale make doughs and broths out of different juices, vinegars, spices and herbs. The mixtures then get steamed, cooked or pan fried to savor just like real meat. Photo: Mike Ross for the Guardian

It worked out perfectly at home, Kale says. But when I multiplied it by 40, something went wrong. We were just handing out these hockey puck filet mignons.

The siblings insist they run their store similarly to a more traditional butcher shop. Everything in the Herbivorous Butcher can be found at any other butcher shop, Kale tells, merely each item is made out of plant-based goods. Customers buy each item by the pound, as they would at other butcher shops, and costs are similar to those at organic grocery stores, Aubry says.

Were here to bridge the gap so that omnivores can switch over, Aubry tells. We dont use funny terms for our products. We call them what they are.

A perusal through the store website observes butcher shop classics like Italian sausage, barbecue rib, pepperoni, bologna and Mexican chorizo, among many other vegan meat. Cheese fans will find camembert, dill havarti, pepper jack and cheddar among a collecting of many dairy-free delicacies.

The word butcher brings to mind bloodstained aprons, enforcing knives and windows of hanging carcass, and the Walches aim to repurpose the term.

Well stop calling ourselves vegan butchers when they stop calling it humane carnage, Kale says.

Originally from Guam, Aubry and Kale were inspired to make the vegan meat to preserve family customs. Vegetarianism is not a common conception in Guam, and family dinners usually consist of at the least four meat dishes on the table.

Its not something thats normal at all, culturally, Aubry says.

But the siblings say the time spent with their families around the dinner table was very valuable. They didnt want to lose the tradition or the memories of smelling steak on the grill. So, to make sure each product savors and feels like real meat, the Walches have their parent conduct a taste test.

Hes our harshest critic, Kale says.

Among the more popular products at the Herbivorous Buther are Korean barbecue ribs, pastrami, smoky house ribs and all of their cheeses, which contain a soy milk and coconut oil base; Kale adds vinegars and nutritional yeast for flavors and texture.

Animals are not harmed in the making of the vegan products, but Kale says he has likely developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his right arm( his stirring limb) the creation of each product involves much stirring and kneading, and his right arm is now five times bigger than his left.

It only hurts to construct, he says.

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