Meatless in Minneapolis

The Herbivorous Butcher offers the vegan meats you never knew you wanted

Vegan Butcher Shop

Breanna Vick

On a sunny Saturday noon, my sister and I ventured to Sisyphus Brewing to visit a shuffleboard tournament and pop-up shop hosted by new kid on the vegan block, The Herbivorous Butcher.

Compelled by our young, hipster tendencies, we had decided to try some meat-free meat from the Herbivorous Butcher, with a pairing of both dark and brown ale courtesy of Sisyphus. With the clattering and cheering from the shuffleboard tournament behind us accompanying our taste test, my sister and I were happily surprised by the vegan meat substitutes they had to offer.

The Herbivorous Butcher, the stomach/brain child of sister and brother combo Kale and Aubry Walch, has been making food since June for the Linden Hills Farmers Market. As the two began to consistently sell out of their meatless meats, they decided to open a brick-and-mortar vegan butcher shop—the first in the nation. With as much money as many other young entrepreneurs (none), they decided to fund the butcher shop through the crowd sourcing site Kickstarter.

As the two began to sell out of their meatless meats they decided to open a brick-and-mortar vegan butcher shop, the first in the nation.

After asking for a $50,000 donation, the internet helped supply the siblings with an ample $61,000, making it the most successful vegan Kickstarter ever. Now with both the means and opportunity, the Walches are ready to open up shop. The Herbivorous Butcher shop is expected to open in late April or early May. And while many vegans, vegetarians, and foodies are excited about the meat substitute, others are skeptical. It was The Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon, who said it frankly:

“I read about a brother and sister in Minneapolis who are opening the world’s first vegan butcher shop,” he said. “Yeah, at the butcher they promise to kill all the flavor, but in a humane way. If you boil it long enough, there’s no flavor. Tastes like nothing.”

The idea seems odd, and even a bit too contrarian. But with all of that said, the food is remarkably good and capable of generating a buzz. At the Sisyphus event, a large crowd, all of which were ordering and sampling the “meats” at their leisure, joined my sister and me.

I read about a brother and sister in Minneapolis who are opening the world’s first vegan butcher shop. Yeah, at the butcher they promise to kill all the flavor, but in a humane way.

After an hour the BBQ ribs quickly sold out, and my sister and I had decided to order in bulk. After purchasing the teriyaki jerky, Italian sausage, morning sausage, and pepperoni for $26, we quickly went home and tried the food.

Before unwrapping the ornamental brown wrapping paper, followed by the necessary plastic wrap, we read the packages’ information. Placed proudly on the front is a sticker of The Herbivorous Butcher with outlines of the Walches on each side. On the other side of the package is another sticker with a few of the nutritional facts.

The sticker contained a statement disclosing how the “meat” could possibly be vegan, how it was manufactured in a factory containing peanuts and soy, how it had lots of protein (but no exact amount), and, most importantly, the ingredients. There aren’t any hyper-synthesized items, colors, or chemical compounds; simply the few other foods that the meat is made of.

When reading the list of ingredients, one is struck with the ability to actually understand what the food is made of. Since the meats are precooked and essentially vegetables, grains, and fruits, we decided to eat all the products, excluding the jerky, first raw, and then cooked.

The meats are tasty, easy to chew, and excellently seasoned with spices and sauces—the jerky especially so. But when biting into the “meat,” you can almost immediately tell that it isn’t meat. The nostalgic texture of real sausage, jerky, and pepperoni was betrayed after the first bite.

The flavors of the meat-free meat are noticeable immediately, almost to the point where they pass the meats they are meant to imitate. The honey in the morning sausage is greater than any other honey-glazed piece of meat I’ve ever had. The same is true for the Italian sausage, but not for the pepperoni, which was disappointing.

After eating the uncooked “meat,” we then tried it cooked. With a frying pan and a few minutes, the faux-meat crisps up and the flavor increases radically. The sausages were almost ten times better than they had been just moments before without heat.

Within a half hour, my sister and I had devoured all of the food, making us wonder why we hadn’t bought more and, most importantly, when our vegan super powers would activate.