The growth of vegetarianism in Luxembourg has given rise to the launch of the country’s first vegetarian butcher.
Entrepreneur José Da Costa is one of six people driving the Vegetarian Butcher concept, starting in April 2013 with the opening of a new vegetarian restaurant in Kirchberg. A vegetarian himself, he knows just how hard it can be to find tasty meat alternatives or “faux meat” which tastes as good as the real thing.
“When I became vegetarian four years ago the types of products available here in Luxembourg sucked. There’s a lot of selection but companies trying to imitate meat just aren’t there yet,” he said, adding: “With 38 years experience of eating meat, it’s very difficult to fool me.”
José Da Costa, 42, explained that the Vegetarian Butcher concept derives from the Netherlands. There, a former eighth generation livestock farmer who became vegetarian and an animal rights politician worked to produce meat-free products from soja and lupini beans, which tasted and had the same texture as real meat.
After reading about the initiative last year, José and his wife went directly to the Dutch Vegetarian Butcher head quarters in Den Hague to taste the products. “We were amazed. For a big part of our lives we had eaten meat and fish. Here we had vegetarian or vegan products that tasted identical,” he said.
From their website:
Our mission is to free animals from the food chain by offering a complete and delicious alternative to meat. This will not only provide a huge benefit in terms of efficiency, nature, environment, climate, bio diversity and the world food supply, but also in terms of animal welfare. The same way horses that were once used to pull the plow have been replaced by mechanical horsepower, slaughter animals will also become obsolete because of our products.
Vegetarian Butcher products have exploded in the Netherlands during the last two years and are available to purchase in more than 500 different places. This growth is largely a result of food scandals and concerns about the provenance of meat. Given the recent horse meat scandals which rocked Europe, José thinks now is a good a time as ever to promote vegetarian products on the Luxembourg market.
But, before doing so, he reworked the image of the typical vegetarian. “Often, vegetarianism has been linked too much with this alternative lifestyle. We want to make it more normal for people to eat vegetarian food and to move away from this stereotype,” he said.
He hopes that the somewhat antithetical brand name, the Vegetarian Butcher, will begin the process by sparking debate on the subject. He is currently in the process of expanding the Vegetarian Butcher.