Earth & Conservation

A Vegan Butcher Shop Will Soon Debut in Brooklyn

A New York couple will be opening a "faux meat" haven this spring that will look like a traditional delicatessen.

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Come next year, Brooklyn, N.Y. residents will have access to their first vegan butcher shop.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000, Brooklyn's Monk's Meats plans to open a store that will be modeled after an old-fashioned butcher shop but without the meat. Instead, customers will be able to buy foods created with plant-based fare called seitan – also known as wheat gluten.

Monk's Meats began its journey in 2010 in the Brooklyn kitchen of founders Chris Kim and Rebecca Lopez-Howes. The couple worked on all manner of ways to prepare seitan – "the least well-known of Asian vegetarian proteins," according to Kim. Soon they began selling their creations to local grocers and restaurants in New York Today, Monk's Meats delivers seitan-based fare – from veggie burgers to sliders to bbq mushroom sandwiches and more – to offices, homes and restaurants in all five boroughs of New York. The new butcher shop, set to open in spring 2017, will boast stainless steel counters, a deli case, a butcher's block, and other apparatus reminiscent of a traditional delicatessen, with seitan instead of animal parts as the food on offer.

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Seitan falls under the heading of a "meat analogue," an attempt to bring the taste and texture of meat to those who do not eat animal-based foods. Better known soy-based foods such as tofu and tempeh are also meat analogues.

According to yourdailyvegan, seitan's ability to approximate both the "toothy" texture and the flavor of meat make it a key ingredient in many "faux meat" products. For Kim and Lopez-Howes, seitan supplied them with an answer to the oft-asked question faced by vegans: "Where do you get your protein?"

Kim doesn't like to hear seitan described as a meat alternative. "To me, it's 'plant meat.' It's 'wheat meat,'" he says in the video below. On its own it has no taste until flavoring from different spices and salt are added.

Monk's Meats isn't the country's first vegan butcher shop. That honor belongs to The Herbivorous Butcher, in Minneapolis. The shop opened early this year and, much like Monk's Meats' plans, it went with a traditional deli look.

Almost traditional, that is. The proprietors of The Herbivorous Shop retain a sense of fun, even including a cow-shaped cutting board: "very much a cheeky joke," the shop's owners told Thrillist at the beginning of this year.

The Minneapolis shop also raised its launch funds through a Kickstarter campaign – good for $60,000 – Thrillist reported.