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Q&A: The Herbivorous Butcher

The Northeast Minneapolis vegan market owners share their advice for eating vegan over the holidays.
Sibling-duo Kale and Aubry Walch pose inside their butcher shop, The Herbivorous Butcher, on January 18, 2016.
Image by Daily File Photo

Sibling-duo Kale and Aubry Walch pose inside their butcher shop, The Herbivorous Butcher, on January 18, 2016.

Looking to eat vegan for your next holiday meal? A&E spoke with The Herbivorous Butcher’s owners, Aubry and Kale Walch, for a few tips and tricks.

How did you start eating vegan?

Aubry: I was working at a grocery store when I was 18, and I saw a lot of meat come through the register. I was like, ‘This is weird that I have to eat something that was alive to sustain myself.’ So I decided to stop eating any kind of meat or anything that came from an animal. I didn’t need it to sustain myself and to be healthy, so why do it?

Kale: I just wanted a fresh start before college because I wasn’t in the best shape in high school. Our school was right next to a Little Caesar’s and a Taco Bell. After a few months it became more of a social and environmental thing.

What led you to open the shop?

A: We were making food for ourselves, and we had friends that really liked it. We started a farmer’s market stand to see if it would work. Our customers at the farmer’s market pushed us to open it because we would always sell out.

How has business been going? Do you have future plans for the shop?

A: [We thought] we’d be making food in the back and every now and then a customer would come in, but it’s definitely not like that. We’re going to be expanding over the next few years — hit the coasts first, and spread out from there.

Do you guys have a favorite event that you’ve done with the shop?

K: I liked when we went out west for the vegan beer fest. We had a double-down chicken sandwich like they had at KFC, and a chicken and waffle thing.

A: And beer … also a good thing.

When planning your holiday meals, what do you like to use in them?

A: I think tradition is such a big part of people’s lives … so I think that really focusing on that [meat] center piece is super, super important. I’d say the stuffed turkey is one of my favorite things that we have. I look forward to it every year, and the ham is absolutely delicious. Kale makes this crazy good glaze for it.

K: We made a pot roast one year that I liked. We called it “Big Old Beefy Beef.” It pulled apart really nicely.

If people are looking to make similar things at home, would you recommend that they try doing it on their own or go to a shop like yours?

A: It took a really long time to get the basics down. It’s totally easy to make a basic mock duck at home, it’s like five ingredients. But if you want something specialty, and you don’t have ten hours to spend in the kitchen to figure it out, it’s probably easier to come to a shop like ours.

How can vegans communicate with their family about what they need over the holidays?

A: For our family, we always forced the meat sub. We just bring it ourselves. [For] any kind of side that you would make for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can make it totally vegan by just making a couple substitutions. Butter — you can sub for oil, or shortening or vegan butter. For any kind of savory dish you can get unsweetened cashew creamer. The sub is so, so easy.

Do you have recommendations for students who are looking to start eating vegan?

K: It’s a lot easier than people think. You can make the most delicious lentil dish that will fill you up for hours for so cheap. It’s really easy to do, and your roommates aren’t going to get pissed like, ‘Oh, get this vegan stuff out of here.’

A: Grains and beans. That’s how you save money. Then come here or go to a grocery store and get a kind of chicken option, or a sausage option, and mix it in with your grains and beans. All of a sudden you have the healthiest meal you’ve had in a while.

Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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