When You Give a Vegan a Butcher Shop

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Vegan “meat” makers find a home in Northeast Minneapolis

After hearing all the hype surrounding the Herbivorous Butchers, I thought I would stop by to check out the newest hipster hangout in town. Here’s my two cents.

The Herbivorous Butcher started as a way for Kale and Aubry Walch to recreate dishes they had grown up eating while still living a vegan lifestyle. After perfecting their faux meat recipes, they shared them with their friends, family, and farmers markets around the Twin Cities. Their ideas grew into the first vegan “butcher shop” where they now sell vegan meats and cheeses in Northeast.

Upon opening the door to the shop I was hit with a wave of spices and the smell of canned beans. I waited at the counter for a bit and connected with one of the owners, Kale Walch. He was elbow deep in a brownish mixture through the opening into the back of the shop, but quickly cleaned up and came over.

I didn’t talk to Kale long before realizing how more likely vegan burgers would appear on gluten free buns at Twin Cities barbecues this summer. When he and his sister Aubry opened the first local vegan butcher shop in January, even they didn’t expect it to be this popular. Walch said that the opening day was “just crazy.” There were many more people than expected at the opening, and business hasn’t slowed in the three weeks since.

Kale and Aubry spent years building to this point. They called themselves nomads, selling at pop-up shops and farmers markets before finding a permanent spot in Northeast.

The duo start each morning preparing the “meat” to be sold that day. According to Kale, “It’s like a savory, muscular piece of bread.” Most of the recipes consist of a mixture of flour and spices, with the addition of beans and nuts for texture. Walch says a variety of people come into the shop looking for an alternative to meat. Although there is the natural crowd of vegans and vegetarians, omnivores are just as popular customers.

In the future, the Walch’s are looking to expand, especially after receiving franchise offers from all around the world. “We’re looking to do lots of controlled explosions,” Walch said. Though expansions throughout the US and beyond are currently just dreams, they are considering finding another home in California. They’ve also been expanding their recipes, adding gluten-free options to their vegan dishes.

It hasn’t all been roses and sunshine for the pair. There have been missteps in recipes and expansion plans, but with a dedicated team of “butchers” it has been a lot easier. “It’s more of a philosophical thing than a capitalistic venture,” Walch said.

After spending some time in the shop, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a good place filled with friendly people. For those of you looking to try something new, check it out. And for those of you still looking for the real deal, the Red Stag is located right next door. I recommend the sirloin.

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