“I think we’re going to make a video on how to say ‘Herbivorous,'” says Aubry Walch, one-half of the duo behind The Herbivorous Butcher.
In fact, the duo that brought this wildly successful oxymoron idea to fruition are siblings. While Aubry is known as “Sister Butcher,” her younger brother, Kale, is known at “Brother Butcher.”
The vegan lifestyle has been with them both for quite some time, but opening up a vegan butcher shop wasn’t necessarily on their radar.
“I was going to be a doctor. Or a minister,” says Kale. Aubry wanted to do something in music. But then life took an interesting turn.
The two had been experimenting with vegan foods on their own, creating their own concoctions because they weren’t happy with the options available at the stores.
“If you look at the labels on some of the mass-produced vegan products, some of the ingredients are hard to say and hard to find,” says Aubry. “Our goal was to make stuff at home with ingredients you can find at the co-op.”
Realizing they might be onto something, Aubry asked her little brother to go into business with her, selling meat-free meats to the public.
“I was in college at the time, but I thought this would be fun,” says Kale.
And so, in September of 2013, The Herbivorous Butcher was officially born. On June 7, 2014, the siblings debuted their offerings at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. And they “did well,” says Aubry.
One might argue that they did better than “well.”
Their stand became a go-to destination, not only for local vegans and vegetarians, but also for the curious.
And, it was at the Farmers Market where they met an investor who helped them get their dream of opening a vegan butcher shop from paper to reality.
“The shop was always in our plans,” says Aubry. “But we didn’t think it would happen as fast as it did.”
Lightning Fast, actually.
Just four months after starting at the Farmers Market, the siblings launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the shop. The investor kicked in some, too. And the rest, as they say, is history.
But of course, it wasn’t always as smooth as it sounds; running a business never is. But the siblings seem to counter-balance each other nicely.
“She’s the worrywart, while I’m the even-keeled one,” says Kale, who is 12 years younger than his sister. Still, he admits watching the Kickstarter was a nerve-racking experience.
It also was a bummer when their original location fell through.
“There are a lot of ups and downs with running a business,” says Aubry. But that’s not to say they aren’t having fun. Because they are.
And what about working together as siblings?
“It’s great,” says Kale.
“It’s really no big deal,” adds Aubry. “We even live in the same building.”
What’s more, they are known to sing Karoke together on their nights off. Kale’s song is “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. Aubry’s pick is “Grilllz” by Nelly.
It’s a good thing they like each other because Brother and Sister plan on spending a lot of time together, now and in the future.
This June, they will be hitting the west coast, first in Portland and then in Los Angeles for the Vegan Beer Fest.
Eventually, they’d also like to bring a butcher shop to each coast. But they are being very deliberate with any expansion plans.
“We can’t grow too fast, too soon,” admits Kale. That said, he recognizes they need to strike while the iron is hot.
“Four years ago, this concept probably would not have worked,” he continues. “But now, people are more educated and more concerned, about the environment, about animal rights and about factory farming.”
Plus, social media has helped with their cause.
The number-one question they receive daily is from people asking when they are going to bring The Herbivorous Butcher to them.
While they can’t provide a definitive answer to that question, they can point people to their online shop, where you can purchase a Vegan Starter Kit or a Vegan Jerky Sampler.
And for locals, The Herbivorous Butcher is open six days a week (closed Mondays), offering a rotating menu of meat-free-meats, cheese-free cheeses, and on Wednesdays through Fridays, grab & go sandwiches.