The first permanent vegan butcher shop has opened in London. Yes, you read that correctly, a vegan butcher shop.
While pop-ups and other temporary vegan butchers have come and gone in the U.K., Rudy’s Vegan Butcher, based in the London borough of Islington, is thought to be the first permanent plant-based butcher’s shop.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it operates from one of the most gentrified areas of Islington – home to former prime ministers, actors and authors. Opening on World Vegan Day on November 1, the first day of trading resulted in huge queues and the shop sold out. Not everyone, however, was quite so welcoming towards the new arrival on the borough’s main street, with some suggesting that it was nothing more than a green grocer and others describing it as ridiculous.
But there is no denying that Rudy’s has done well and it reports continuing brisk sales.
The newcomer follows in the footsteps of Rudy’s Vegan Diner, which has been in operation in neighboring borough Camden since 2018, and, in addition to its own vegan range, the butcher is also offering some of the diner’s favorites.
What’s on the block?
So what’s in store at, what appears, at first sight, to be a traditional butcher’s shop?
Its range includes pastrami, dirty burger patties, cheeze sauce and chilli-non-carne. Taken from the diner’s menu are: rack of jack, lobstah salad, meatballs, chick’n lover pate and shredded BBQ pulled pork. For anyone thinking ahead to Christmas, the shop is also offering roast turk’y.
On opening day, the butcher celebrated by giving away pounds of free vegan bacon and, for those unable to shop in person nationwide, delivery of its plant-based products is aso available. Illustrative of the strong interest in these vegetable offerings, both the physical shop and the online service sold out on the first day of business.
All the products sold at the butcher are their own creations, conjured up by chef and co-owner Matthew Foster. Foster has been working in kitchens since the age of 14, including in 5-star establishments around the world, and has even catered to royalty. Meat, however, has not been part of his menu for a number of years and this resulted in him veganizing his favorite meals – testing, experimenting and redefining the boundaries of plant-based food.
Plans are afoot to expand Rudy’s further, and only time will tell whether the butcher is simply a flash in the vegetable-oiled pan or whether it carves out a long-lasting niche, but the timing of the opening could not have been better.
A study published by market research company Mintel earlier this year found that, since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, vegan diets have become more attractive to 12% of U.K. citizens, while in London that figure has risen to 22%.