Meat may be the mainstay of the Luxembourg diet but the growth of vegetarianism has grown helped by the launch of the country's first vegetarian butcher set up in 2013.
Entrepreneur José Da Costa is one of six people driving the Vegetarian Butcher concept in the Grand Duchy, starting in April 2013 with the opening of a new vegetarian restaurant at the Kyosk, in Kirchberg. A vegetarian himself, he knows just how hard it can be to find tasty meat alternatives or “faux meat” which tastes as good as the real thing.
“When I became vegetarian four years ago the types of products available here in Luxembourg sucked. There's a lot of selection but companies trying to imitate meat just aren't there yet,” he told wort.lu/en, adding: “With 38 years experience of eating meat, it's very difficult to fool me.”
The 42-year-old, who founded green architectural firm HAUSÎNG, explained that the Vegetarian Butcher concept derives from the Netherlands. There, a former eighth generation livestock farmer who became vegetarian and an animal rights politician worked to produce meat-free products from soja and lupini beans, which tasted and had the same texture as real meat.
After reading about the initiative last year, José and his wife went directly to the Dutch Vegetarian Butcher head quarters in Den Hague to taste the products. “We were amazed. For a big part of our lives we had eaten meat and fish. Here we had vegetarian or vegan products that tasted identical,” he said.
Vegetarian Butcher products have exploded in the Netherlands during the last two years and are available to purchase in more than 500 different places. This growth is largely a result of food scandals and concerns about the provenance of meat. Given the recent horse meat scandals which rocked Europe, José thinks now is a good a time as ever to promote vegetarian products on the Luxembourg market.
But, before doing so, he reworked the image of the typical vegetarian. “Often, vegetarianism has been linked too much with this alternative lifestyle. We want to make it more normal for people to eat vegetarian food and to move away from this stereotype,” he said.
He suggests that the somewhat contradictory brand name, the Vegetarian Butcher, will begin the process by sparking debate on the subject.
In addition to the Kyosk in Kirchberg, serves wholly vegetarian and vegan dishes, José's team have plans for a vegetarian butcher food truck and a shop-cum-restaurant.
And they don't plan to stop at Luxembourg. José is in talks with the Dutch firm to market its products in Germany, France and Belgium and he hopes one day to open a manufacturing plant in Luxembourg.
Do not miss the news - sign up to receive the wort.lu newsletter in English delivered to your inbox six days a week.