If when you think of vegetarian or vegan meat, you think of frozen "meat" patties or questionable "soy" burgers, think again. With the advent of initiatives like Meatless Monday and the general awareness of what a bit less meat-eating can do for the environment as well as for our health, more and more people are going the way of veganism and vegetarianism -- even as a part-time gig. And one of the main industries to grow side-by-side with this change in diet is vegan meat.
Vegan butchery has become artisan in its own way, much like traditional butchery, cheesemaking, beer-brewing and farming. All are growing and changing, helping those avoiding meat for whatever reason to find delicious, sustainable alternatives to meat.
The Herbivorous Butcher, Bringing Meatless Meat to Minneapolis
If you're in or around Minneapolis, you may have already heard of the Herbivorous Butcher, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that also sells a variety of meat substitutes. The brother-sister duo, Aubry and Kale Walch, perfected the 8-and-counting recipes for perfectly meatless meats over the course of a decade. Aubry grew up on Guam, a place where meatless cooking is still far from the norm, but after 18 years as a vegetarian, she inspired her brother Kale to become vegan. His more recent switch to a meat-free diet meant that he was perfectly placed to create meaty flavors in fully meat-free dishes.
The selection includes Italian sausage, smoky ribs, pepperoni, maple bacon and more. Each product contains protein and B-vitamins, so they're perfect for vegetarians seeking sources of those essential elements in their diets, but they're also so full of flavor and great, meaty texture that they're ideal for omnivorous groups as well.
The siblings are currently selling their wares at Linden Hills Winter Market, with plans for an online shop and a true storefront in the works.
Bringing Home the (Veggie) Bacon
If you don't plan to find yourself in Minneapolis in the near future, there are other ways that you can bring home delicious vegetarian and vegan meats in the meantime.
Beyond Meat is one product that's found its way into the media of late, as the team of Today tasted the product that Bill Gates and the founders of Twitter have already been championing. Beyond Meat's line includes beef crumbles and not-chicken strips made of non-GMO soy and pea protein, an ingredient that founder Ethan Brown credits with the product's great texture, flavor and nutritional benefits. He sought to create animal protein without the animals, and by all accounts, he appears to have succeeded. The product is already available at a number of retailers, and the company has created an easy-to-use form to request the product near you if you cannot locate it.
Perhaps the best indicator that the need for meatless meat has truly entered the American consciousness was the development of Target's very own line of meatless meat for the Simply Balanced line of products. The "meat analog" line currently contains four products -- mushroom miso meatless turkey, smokey chipotle meatless chicken, Korean barbecue meatless chicken and teriyaki meatless chicken. They've been popping up all over the Internet as interest in these new vegan meat products grows.
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