Thanks to the internet, veganism is currently having its moment. From documentaries like Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives to news about vegans protesting meat-serving restaurants to celebrities like Brad Pitt and Beyoncé touting the benefits, it seems like everyone’s talking about the plant-based diet.
But why are so many people eager to jump on board, and what’s it really all about?
Living life sans meat
The vegan lifestyle is just that — a lifestyle. It’s about thinking past what’s on your plate and choosing to avoid anything related to animal products, including clothes, beauty products, and household items.
So it makes sense that, according to Laura VanZandt, marketing communications coordinator at The Herbivorous Butcher (a plant-based butchery in Minneapolis) the reason people are foregoing a juicy steak in favor of meat-free substitutes is three-fold: animal welfare, the environment, and personal health.
“There’s a lot of information about the way animals are treated, but then there’s more and more information coming out about how damaging animal agriculture is to the environment,” she said. “Then there’s also more information about how eating animal products isn’t good for your health — it’s been linked to high blood pressure, cancer, [and] diabetes.”
In fact, those are the some of the same reasons Aubry and Kale, the brother-and-sister duo behind The Herbivorous Butcher, started their company. For the co-founders, meat holds a nostalgic connection to their home country, Guam, where they grew up eating a lot of it. And like many Americans, making the switch from a life of meat to one without it can be a difficult task, especially if it’s something you’ve enjoyed all your life.
That’s the appeal of places like The Herbivorous Butcher, where people can pick up vegan options like plant-based meats and still enjoy the same textures and flavors they’re used to, just without the cruelty and negative health aspects. Their menu of meat-free meats and cheese-free cheeses doesn’t look so different from one you’d find at a non-vegan restaurant. VanZandt explained, if you have a favorite chicken dish, “you can still have it, you can prepare it the same way, and it’ll have the similar flavors that you’re used to.”
Like a lot of vegan options, the cheeses they offer have a base of organic soy milk and coconut oil, while the majority of their meats are made of a basic wheat flour known as seitan that can be mixed with water to create a doughy texture. When prepared in certain ways, it starts to take on that firm, meaty texture of animal meat, according to VanZandt.
Better for you bacon
Unpacked, there’s a lot more to the vegan diet than an aversion to meat and cheese. But if you’re looking to reminisce, check out The Herbivorous Butcher’s website. They ship to all 50 states, have wholesale partners in a number of cities, and the bacon you order will crisp up in the pan, just like the real deal.