Of Course, A Guy Named Kale Is Opening America's First Vegan Butcher Shop
Assuming you really like to eat steak, pork, chicken, and ribs, the words "vegan butcher shop" could be pretty damn confounding. But rest assured, you read the above headline correctly, but we'll reiterate for good measure: a butcher shop that only sells meatless vegan products is about to become a reality. A butcher shop. With not a bite of real meat. In real life.
The place is aptly called the The Herbivorous Butcher and it will become the first vegan butcher shop in America when it opens its doors in northeastern Minneapolis on January 23rd. Created by sister-and-brother duo Aubry Walch and Kale Walch, the shop will feature a deli case full of decidedly meatless offerings they describe as "small-batch, locally-sourced, all-natural meat alternatives." They say the products, which are currently available for order online, mimic the flavors, textures, and some of the nutrients of meat minus, as they put it, "the negative impacts on health, animals and the environment," according to a press release. Obviously, you'd just have to taste it to decide for yourself.
The shop will open six days a week and will sell vegan versions of "porterhouse steaks," "BBQ and Korean ribs," and "Italian and breakfast sausages" as well as vegan deli "meats" like ham, turkey, pastrami, and bologna. In addition to meatless meats, the shop will also offer vegan cheese-less cheeses -- smoked gouda, mozzarella, and pepper jack, among others. In case you were wondering, the company said its vegan meats are made with non-GMO heritage wheat, and its vegan cheeses are made from coconut oil and organic soy milk.
Sure, these guys sound serious about the whole no real meat thing, but they aren't shy about being cheeky and humorous about it in their marketing images and on social media; for example, the above image displaying meatless jerky on none other than a cow-shaped cutting board.
"The cow-shaped cutting board is very much a cheeky joke," said Ryan Strandjord, the shop's chief marketing officer, in an email to Thrillist. "We post a lot of funny videos and pictures to Facebook because we feel being playful with our audience makes it more interesting for them to follow our story."
The strategy appears to be working. The Walch duo has grown the Herbivorous Butcher from a table at a farmers' market to an online business with customers and followers all over the world, and soon, to a brick-and-mortar store after raising more than $60,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign. And in addition to the store, the company is currently offering nationwide shipping for a limited time, with plans to offer unlimited shipping to customers sometime this year, so that you don't have to go all the way to Minneapolis to get "meat" from a vegan butcher.
Recently, the duo challenged retired "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to take PETA’s 30-Day Vegan Challenge, an effort to encourage current meat-eaters to take the vegan diet for a test drive. They hope to hear from the snowy-bearded (as of late) Stewart sometime soon, while they plan for the shop's grand opening. It remains to be seen if he'll take them up on some meat-free Italian sausages and vegan mozzarella.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and is open to trying the non-meat meat, but doesn't plan on quitting real meat any time soon. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.