London’s First Vegan Butcher Shop Sells “Meats” That Rival the Real Thing
Not eating meat is no longer a concern reserved for vegetarians and vegans. The damaging effects the factory-farm industry has on the land, communities, animals, and people’s health have been extensively documented, and animal agriculture is now a primary source of global warming (if cows were a country, they’d be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world). In turn, the meat-free market is booming. In the United Kingdom, sales of plant-based foods is expected to exceed £1.1 billion ($1.41 billion) by 2024, according to research firm Mintel; in 2019, almost a quarter of all food products launched there were labeled as vegan. And the runaway success of Rudy’s Vegan Butcher, which opened five months ago in the London borough of Islington, only further suggests that the end of meat is near.
Founded by vegans Ruth “Rudy” Mumma and her partner, self-taught chef Matthew Foster, the shop looks like the real thing—from its butcher’s coat–wearing staff to a glass display case showcasing neat, uncooked “cutlets”—and its products, made from scratch without preservatives, taste like it, too. (The couple also run Rudy’s Vegan Diner, an American-style restaurant with two locations in London.) There’s “soysage” sausage, “chili-non-carne,” and peppered “turk’y” slices, as well as items required for a proper British breakfast, such as wheat protein–based “black puddin’,” “baycon,” and scrambled “v-eggs.”
Supplies sold out almost immediately when Rudy’s unlocked its doors, prompting the business to temporarily close while it moved into a larger kitchen to meet demand and create even more new meat-free fare. When the shop reopened last week, fans seemed most excited about its D.I.Y. kits, designed to create delights like Reuben sandwiches and burgers at home. This approachable, no-pressure style of selling plant-based food reflects Mumma and Foster’s understanding of the wide-ranging reactions and routes to veganism. “All we ask is that people are open-minded,” Mumma told The Telegraph right before the shop opened. “We have a lot of curious people who just want to give our products our try.”