Aubry Walch has been a vegetarian for 18 years. Her younger brother, Kale, went vegan three years ago. They might seem an unlikely pair to open a butcher shop, but this isn’t just your average meat market — it’s completely vegan.
The siblings just completed a crowdfunding campaign to open the doors of The Herbivorous Butcher, the country’s first vegan butcher shop. Until their brick-and-mortar location is open for business, you can find them selling their gourmet meat alternatives at farmers’ markets in Minneapolis.
They have every carnivore’s favorite flavors — Italian sausage, barbecue ribs, bacon, pepperoni, pot roast, even beef jerky — and they can’t keep it in stock. They’ve sold out every market day since they started in June. People rave about the flavors — and the texture.
“Texture is key,” Aubry says. “With our Italian sausage, for example, we use a blend of wheat gluten, pinto beans and sun-dried tomatoes.” Their recipes are the result of hours in the kitchen, perfecting the consistency and balancing the spices.
The first non-meat meat they ever cooked up was bologna. The siblings hail from Guam originally, where their grandmother served fried bologna with rice. “A lot of our recipes are actually influenced by our grandma’s cooking,” Aubry says. “Except she used four or five kinds of meat at once, and we don’t use any.”
It’s not just fellow vegans and vegetarians who are flocking to buy The Herbivorous Butcher’s products. Many customers are simply looking to cut down, not eliminate, their meat consumption. And then there are the folks that don’t even know they’ve been eating vegan meat — Aubry says they get stories every week about people serving their products to unsuspecting friends and families: “They think it’s meat when it’s not — and that’s a great compliment.”
The Herbivorous Butcher storefront, which they plan to open in Northeast Minneapolis, will allow them to expand production, fill orders from across the country and add a much-anticipated new offering: vegan cheese.
“That’s what I’m holding out for, before I go full vegan,” Aubry says. “I need really good cheese.”