RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Take a moment to imagine big platters of Andouille sausage, barbecue ribs, bacon. Now think about all of those dishes without meat. Might seem like a bit of a contradiction, but brother and sister Aubry and Kale Walch are opening the first vegan butchery next spring in Minneapolis. It will be called the Herbivorous Butcher. They plan to bring their customers all those delicious meat flavors minus the meat. They join us from Minnesota. Hey you guys. Welcome to the show.
AUBRY WALCH: Hi, Rachel. Thank you so much for having us.
KALE WALCH: Hey, good day.
MARTIN: Yeah. Thanks for being with us. So I have so many questions. I don't even know where to begin.
MARTIN: Well, let's begin kind of at the beginning. How long have you been doing this? Have you guys been vegans for a long time? You're brother and sister. Did you grow up in a vegan family?
K. WALCH: Oh, no, no. I was born in Guam. And we lived on Guam for...
A. WALCH: Thirteen years.
K. WALCH: Thirteen years. Yeah. So meat was a big part of the dinner table growing up.
A. WALCH: Yeah. I mean, oftentimes we had three or four different meats at our dinner table. And so - when I decided to go vegetarian when I was 14, I really wanted to re-create those same items. I missed them. So we started creating them ourselves.
MARTIN: So let's talk. I don't claim to speak for other meat eaters out there. But if I am about to eat an imitation meat product, I just have meat in my head. I have a certain expectation of what it's going to taste like. So how do you two account for that? Are you trying to replicate meat or do something indifference?
K. WALCH: That was a big thing for us. We are trying to replicate the meat so, you know, we invoke different textures by using pinto beans, for example, in our sausages that give it a really meaty heft that's unparalleled in the meat alternative market. We've been using jackfruit, like pulled jackfruit. And, yeah, the jackfruit can be used in steaks to give it that kind of veiny, you know, fibrous texture that you might be looking for sometimes.
MARTIN: I guess I don't know what a jackfruit is.
K. WALCH: Yeah. It's a southeastern Asian, huge gourd kind of thing that, you know - that you split it open. And you pull apart the meat from the seed.
A. WALCH: At looks like a durian. It's huge.
K. WALCH: Yeah. It tastes really bad until you cook it.
A. WALCH: Yeah. It's true.
MARTIN: How - what ingredients do you use to actually make an imitation turkey taste like Turkey?
K. WALCH: Just strategic seasonings really. Nutritional yeast is a big thing we also use in everything. And that gives everything a real savory flavor so that covers that part of the taste spectrum. For turkey for example, we use several ground spices. I believe it was a little fennel, a little bit of thyme, salt and our own vegan chicken broth so...
MARTIN: Aubrey, are there things that just haven't worked that you've experimented with and you tried on friends and family, and they said no way?
A. WALCH: Yeah. Kale's been trying to work on vegan salmon.
K. WALCH: It's been a...
MARTIN: Oh, that sounds difficult.
K. WALCH: It's like my personal Everest right now, like, because I'd never had salmon before I went vegan so it's like I'm looking for a needle in a haystack.
MARTIN: Where are you at with that process right now? Have you gotten close?
K. WALCH: Yeah. I mean, I've got something.
A. WALCH: I mean, apparently, from people have said it's a little too fishy. And salmon is not that fishy I guess.
MARTIN: Do you have a hard time getting people on board with this? I mean, you can actually imagine families sitting down at Thanksgiving or Christmas to a big old imitation ham or turkey?
A. WALCH: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, one thing we're - one reason why we started doing this is 'cause we want people to be able to go to a place to pick up their meat - vegan meat of course - instead of going to the frozen food aisle at a grocery store. You know, we want to make it special for them.
K. WALCH: We too have suffered through countless Tofurkey's on Thanksgivings. So we know the struggle is real.
A. WALCH: We still love Tofurkey.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Here's to alternatives to Tofurkey. Aubry and Kale Walch of the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis. Thanks so much for talking with us.
K. WALCH: Absolutely. Thank you.
A. WALCH: Thank you.
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