Food

Halifax is getting its first vegan butcher shop

With plant-based diets on the rise, outlook is good for fake meat

A vegan butcher is setting up shop in Halifax’s north end later this month.

Turkey, bacon, chicken, pot roast, burgers and cheeses are just some of the plant-based products Real Fake Meats will offer their customers at their 500 sq. ft storefront at 2300 Gottingen St.

“Think about what a real butcher shop is like. That’s kind of what we’re recreating,” said owner Lauren Marshall.

She plans to open by Dec. 20, just in time for the holidays.

Marshall is no stranger to Halifax’s vegan cooking scene. After running Envie’s kitchen for two years and competing on Canada’s Top Chef, she spent three years teaching plant-based cooking classes and hosting retreats.

Marshall uses a range of ingredients and techniques in her recipes, as the plant-based products are meant to emulate the taste and textures of meat. For example, the tofu used in some of her chicken products is frozen and thawed twice before cooking to achieve a layered texture, like real chicken. Vita-wheat gluten is a staple in many of the fake meats, but she also offers gluten-free options, like bacon made from coconut or carrot-quinoa sausages.

Vegan dishes.   Stacey Seward

The idea for Real Fake Meats came to Marshall and the shop’s co-founder, Brandon Levesque, when the duo made vegan donairs and wondered why they weren’t selling them.

They started Real Fake Meats in May, offering a pickup service for boxes filled with selected products made in rented kitchens. Marshall soon found they couldn’t keep up with the demand, so in June they decided to get their own space.

Over the past five years, vegan and vegan friendly restaurants have become more popular, Marshall said, but it isn’t necessarily because of an increase in vegans or vegetarian diets. She often sees customers who are just looking for tasty, protein-based food that isn’t as heavy as a steak.

While there are a number of these restaurants in Halifax, Real Fake Meats hopes to cater to those looking to cook at home or want a to-go meal.

A growing market

According to a recent study from Dalhousie University, one in five Canadians have decided to either reduce or eliminate meat from their diets. Sylvain Charlebois, co-author of the study and professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie, said “flexitarianism,” or part-time vegetarianism, is on the rise.

“They are still attached to meat but … they are looking for plant-based animal proteins and taste is a big issue,” Charlebois said in an interview, noting the success of A&W’s Beyond Meat burger as an example of vegan foods making their way into the mainstream.

“It really shows that there’s potential for these companies to do well,” he said.

Along with vegan meats and cheeses, Marshall hopes to expand into selling sandwiches, donairs and other ready-made food items. Eventually, she said, they plan on producing Real Fake Meats products for wholesale.

9 comments

  1. Hope to be able to get their products soon up here in the valley.We will travel to Halifax to buy and try the various items that they offer as son as possible.Thanks for offering the alternatives.

    1. Thanks for the comment Terry, I agree with you it is going to be an exciting shopping experience.

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