Vegetarian butchers make a killing

Posted on 20 September 2011

Fake meat chicken, fake meat gyros and fake meat sausages – all this and
much more is available from the Vegetarian ButcherOpens in a new window. The chain is the first of its kind in the world. Not only do the foods on sale look exactly like their real meat counterparts, but according to many a meat eater, they taste very similar as well.

Eating meat is on the decline in the Netherlands. These days some 75% of people no longer eat meat on a daily basis. Animal welfare, scary infections in cattle and the presence of antibiotics in chicken meat may be
the reasons for people to cut down on eating meat. That’s probably why Vegetarian Butcher shops are mushrooming. The chain is the first of its kind in the world.

Can’t believe it’s not chicken

“In fact Ferran Adria, aka the best chef in the world, wouldn’t believe it wasn’t chicken he was tasting after being presented with our chicken substitute made from vegetable matter”, says Niko Koffeman, one of the
founders of the Vegetarian Butcher chain.

The first Vegetarian Butcher shop opened its doors in October 2010, in The Hague. Now, less than a year later, there are 30, spread all over the country. The display counter of these shops is a visual challenge because the fake meat products look so much like the real thing that just a glance at it makes many a carnivorous stomach grumble.

Sustainability

80% of the shops’ clientele are hard core vegetarians and vegans, says Koffeman, yet specific target group is people that want to either cut down on meat consumption or to stop eating it completely.

“Animal cruelty is one reason, but also a growing concern for sustainability”, says Koffeman. “After all meat production is highly inefficient. When you start food production with, say, soy or lupin beans and you feed them to animals – as happens with 50% of the worlds’ wheat harvests – 90% gets transformed into manure and body heat. Only 10% of useful proteins are generated.

We say let’s directly make use of these useful proteins for human consumption. Especially since we can
create a product that has the exact same look, taste and bite as the similar meat product. Taking the animal out of the process will provide us with a surplus of vegetable products so large we could nourish more than 5 times the world population.”

No compromise on flavour

Back to the Vegetarian Butcher. The products in the display case are either vegetarian or pure vegan. Koffeman is especially proud of the very popular meatball sandwich – broodje bal is the number one snack food for many people in The Hague. “People love it, but I have to admit, it’s not a 100% vegetable product. We need to add egg to give it just the right flavour. As long as there’s no meat involved we don’t want to compromise on flavour. Some products just taste better when you add some cream or eggs to them.”

Eating fake meat is not necessarily cheap. Fake chicken meat for instance at &eur;15 a kilo is a bit more expensive than the real thing sold at a quality butcher shop. But according to Koffeman, that will change soon enough. “As production goes up, the price will come down substantially.”

By Michel Walraven

Original article appeared on: Radio Netherlands WorldwideOpens in a new window


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