Meet the ‘Butchers’ Who Are Changing Ideas on Faux Meat

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Veg food artisans from Australia to Amsterdam are reinventing the neighborhood butcher shop. “Calling ourselves ‘butchers’ describes that act of putting center-of-the-plate proteins within easy reach of our customers,” says Jess Abramson, co-owner of Toronto’s YamChops. Here, four trendsetting purveyors of plant-based provisions.

➼ The Herbivorous Butcher 
A 2014 Kickstarter campaign helped Aubry and brother Kale Walch launch their showplace for rich wheat-based meats such as breakfast sausage [shown, bottom left], bologna, and ribs. “Of course, we’re not butchering anything,” Kale says of the first vegan butcher store in the U.S. “But we’re hand-crafting these fresh meats daily, so we do feel like a new breed of butcher.”

➼ YamChops 
Szechuan “beef,” coconut “bacon,” a superb beet burger [shown], and even luscious carrot “lox” have customers flocking to Canada’s first vegetarian butcher, located in Toronto’s Little Italy. But it’s old-school service that keeps them coming back. “We’re a throwback to what a butcher shop might have been 100 years ago,” says co-owner Jess Abramson, who opened YamChops with her parents in 2014. “People crave that now.”

➼ Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher 
Newtown, N.S.W., Australia
Proprietor Suzy Spoon brings her own spin to a family business; her great-grandfather owned one of Sydney’s largest butchers. Spoon expertly amps up flavors and textures in her plant-based selections, including kale-and-cauliflower sausage, smoked “rasher” bacon, or Vienna-style seitan schnitzel with paprika and white pepper. “Supermarket products for vegetarians are highly processed,” she says. “I thought there was a gap in the market, and I went for it.”

➼ De Vegetarische Slager
(The Vegetarian Butcher)
A self-described meat addict, Jaap Korteweg was a ninth-generation farmer who went veg to opt out of a “destructive” livestock system. But he missed the taste of animal protein.
So in 2005, he started creating his own “meat analogues,” and the world’s first vegetarian butcher was born. Selections such as vegan chicken chunks and beef strips became instant hits. But Korteweg’s not resting on his laurels. With research teams at two Dutch universities, he’s developing new techniques to make steaks from vegetable fibers: “Peas, carrots, onions, leeks, and lupine [beans] will be the next big thing in vegan meats,” says De Vegetarische Slager spokesperson Evelien van de Glinde. You heard it here first.