It all began with a farmer from Brabant, a little local Butcher store in The Hague which has catapulted a food revolution and meat movement that set out to change the world: this is the story of The Vegetarian Butcher.
THe GRaTeST FOoD REVoLuTION oF ALL TIMeS
Born on a working farm in Langeweg in Brabant on September 11, 1962, Jaap son of Gerrit and Janny Korteweg, was destined to become a farmer. But instead of repeating history, Jaap decided to change it. His disillusion with the meat industry led him to unconventional farming methods: organic arable farming, without livestock. A first in his family lineage.
The outbreak of swine fever and mad cow disease is gripping the Netherlands. Jaap is asked whether his cold stores - which he uses for onions and carrots - can serve as a storage place for tens of thousands of carcasses. When he imagines the towering piles of dead pigs in his cold stores, he declines the lucrative offer and sees that the handling of animals must be changed.
The system failed.
– Jaap Korteweg
Jaap had a desire to keep and tend to animals, having them live in an organic setting that improved their quality of life. So, the idea that he would then have to slaughter his animals with his own hands, did not appeal to him.
At that moment Jaap decided to stop eating animals. However, he longed for the same lip-smacking taste experience of animal meat. He made an agreement with himself to only ever eat animal meat when he was not at home or on the farm. The result? He rarely ever ate meat. Jaap decided to look for something that could fulfil his desire for animal meat, without involving animals.
He contacted producers of vegetable proteins and scientists to help him develop a vegetarian meat that cannot be distinguished from animal meat. Not meat substitutes like tofu or beet burgers as we already know them, but "meat successors". Together with innovative chefs, we are working on processes to capture the sensational taste of beef, pork and chicken in vegetarian products, successfully.
The Vegetarian Butcher officially launched on International Animal Day, 2010. In the heart of The Hague, Jaap opened a nostalgic butcher shop, where craft and delicious food were, and to this day still are, paramount. A butcher with the meat of today. Not only do people come from all over the country - and beyond - to the Hofstad to taste the new meat; but it has perked interest within the culinary world too
The Vegetarian Butcher may look like a real butcher - the meat he sells is made from soy and lupine protein. Creepily recreated, though.
– De Volkskrant
Ferran Adrià (El Bulli, Barcelona) tastes our vegetable meat with a team of top chefs [BA1]. They praise our most versatile pieces: "This is more tender than pork, juicier than chicken!"
Our meat is available at a growing number of stores. More and more local grocers, butchers and supermarkets are joining our journey towards a better meat future. Afterall, Triodos Bank Hart-Hoofdprijs awarded The Vegetarian Butcher 'Most innovative and inspiring company' in 2011. Watch this space, a revolution is taking place.
Interest in the new meat is growing more and more. A major New York Times article, culinary columnist Mark Bittman wonders: "Why, in other words, use the poor chicken as a machine to produce meat when you can use a machine to produce 'meat' that seems like chicken? " The key question, as far as we are concerned.
Consider minced meat, hacked. The poultry sector does not agree, stating that The Vegetarian Butcher “piggybacks on the good name of chicken” and submitted a complaint to the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority about our product names. There are even parliamentary questions on the matter, jokingly called #schnitzelgate. Our product names are being tightened up, making it clear that we have 'hacked' the flavour and texture of animal meat.
In addition, we’ve secured a place at the NIMA Marketing Awards and PETA created an award especially for The Vegetarian Butcher: "Most animal-friendly company of the year!"
The launch of the mc² Burger, our first vegetarian burger, took place in Paris. The traditional beef burger finally has a serious vegetarian challenger that can compete with the original on all fronts, but with a CO2 emission that is 82% lower.
The marketers of JWT Intelligence spotted The Vegetarian Butcher as a global driver of a vegetarian trends that finally broke through in 2013. A collaboration with Delhaize follows quickly, so that we also roll out the shelves in Belgium.
The Consumers' Association is full of praise for our Vegan Chicken Pieces: “The Vegetarian Butcher is clearly the winner. Tasty and very similar to chicken. In terms of nutritional value, it is not inferior to chicken and is even better.” And even more success: our chef comes third in the battle for De Telegraaf's Golden Meatball in a field of 45 participants, of whom 44 use animal meat. We hacked the league.
The Vegetarian Butcher is becoming well established, even outside of the supermarkets. HEMA began selling our mc² Burger in all restaurants and various museums will follow, including the Stedelijk Museum.
Our transparent packaging made way for our latest cardboard freezer boxes and we received nice comments in the Consumer Guide. Our mc2 Burger is rated the best of all vegetarian burgers: "A delicious herbal flavour and an attractive scent."
Founder Jaap Korteweg shares his story with more and more people, as a vegetarian meat lover who started The Vegetarian Butcher. In addition, our trophy cabinet is supplemented with the Veggiebite Award and the Vegan Award within the category 'Vegan Friendly Brand'.
We successfully started crowdfunding for the realization of our new factory, collecting 2.5 million euros within three weeks. Once again it became clear how great the demand for the new meat was and still is.
On November 1, 2015 we organized a Kick Off Party in our future new factory for all our fans, bondholders and partners. During this party we also introduced the very first vegetable Beefstuck in the world in collaboration with Wageningen University (WUR). To top it all off, Jaap Korteweg was also elected Entrepreneur of the Year 2015!
We opened our first foreign concept store in Berlin. A place where we could also introduce the German meat lover to our meat successors. In addition, we collaborated for the first time with Unilever. A unique partnership in which we also collaborated with Unox on the first vegetarian balls. Now known as, 'Vegetarian Hacked Balls in Satay Sauce'.
It is also known that one in six sausage rolls that are sold every day at Albert Heijn to go, are ours! We are expanding our range at Albert Heijn with an extensive range of vegan and vegetarian meat products.
We also received many prizes. Our Vegetarian Bratwurst had an international breakthrough and was elected "Best Banger" in Leeds and "Best Vegan BBQ product" in Belgium. We won the "Sustainable Week Utrecht Award" in the Retail category, our Vegan Chicken Pieces were awarded "Best Vegan Product" at the Vegan Awards 2016, and PETA presented us with the award for "Most Compassionate Company". We also received the "Corporate 4 Animals 2016 Award" from the Eurogroup for Animals and Jaap Korteweg was elected "EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2016". Phew, what a year.
The jury of the New Food Challenge chose The Vegetarian Butcher as one of the eight finalists to develop a new meat successor. After the success of the Hacked Balls in Satay Sauce, Vegetarian Hacked Balls in Tomato Sauce also launched, together with Unox
More success follows: The Vegetarian Butcher was named Marketing Scale Up Company of the Year, received the Agrofood Plume from the province of Noord-Brabant and Jaap becomes number two in Trouw's Sustainable 100: “Jaap Korteweg shows how to make sustainability attractive for a large group […].”
Our Satay bread also won prizes with the PETA Vegan Food Awards in the category "Best Vegan Sandwich".
On April 1st, we opened The Vegetarian Butcher Pop-Up Restaurant De Vleesch Lobby in The Hague, where vegetable meat is the central theme. It was a place for carnivores, omnivores, herbivores and flexivores alike.
New developments followed in the New Food Challenge: we won € 250,000 for the development of vegetable Wire Meat made from legumes. Founder Jaap Korteweg ended up in the top three of the Sustainable 100 of Trouw for the second time in a row, and The Vegetarian Butcher ended up in the top ten for Most Inspiring Companies in the Netherlands.
The win-win? Leave meat and not miss anything
Together with New York Pizza, we developed a 100% vegetable pizza! This made the Netherlands the first country in Europe to offer nationwide vegan pizza delivery. We closed the year with the news that we will continue under the umbrella of Unilever. With this great collaboration, we can grow our mission without limits and accelerate our ambitions towards more plant-based eating.
The Vegetarian Butcher is the Coolest Dutch Brand 2018! After several rounds and assessments by a jury of experts, we win the final against Vandebron and Tony's Chocolonely. And more are being won! Among others, the FoodQualityAward of FoodPersonality The jury: "The Vegetarian Butcher is a company that really changed the world."
We want to achieve even more with our Food Revolution: in the UK we are starting our major roll-out across the Channel. In the heart of London, we hack a traditional butcher shop for a day to herald the arrival of the new meat. Hundreds of meat lovers are already acquainted and can now also enjoy our meat at supermarket chain Tesco.
#Schnitzelgate is also emerging again; this time even at European level! Product names such as "vegetarian hamburger" and "soy milk" would be misleading according to the European Agriculture Commission. To avoid confusion, we are launching our own election campaign that runs parallel to the European elections. And good news, because the battle has finally come to an end: the vega burger may continue to be called "citizen" in the Netherlands. That gives the citizen courage!
As crown of the year, we are launching the Rebel WHOPPER® in no less than 25 countries in Europe. A huge breakthrough in our mission to become the greatest Butcher in the world. Meat to please you! "
We introduced new packaging for our meat. A new design that made it even easier to see which products are vegetarian and which are vegan. With the new packaging, we immediately expanded our availability in Belgium, and our presence in German supermarkets is now real.
In March our appeal to Frans Timmermans was published in various major Dutch newspapers. Through an open letter from founder Jaap, we encouraged the EU to strive for a climate neutral Europe. We also found it remarkable that at the same time, subsidies are still being given for the promotion of animal meat and we offer a simple suggestion: spend the upcoming chicken meat subsidies on our Lucky Chicken and (our most versatile) Chicken Pieces. A redistribution that can really contribute to making Europe climate neutral by 2050.
Writer and investigative journalist Jeroen Siebelink launched a book on the Food Revolution by Jaap Korteweg with Publisher Xander: "The Vegetarian Butcher". “The story of a group of pioneers who, supported by Jaap's mission, are committed every day to a world without animal meat. On the way to realizing the great ambition: to become the biggest butcher in the world.
The Transformer Of The Year award is awarded to The Vegetarian Butcher by the Dutch Marketing Awards, in which "the sum of marketing vision, execution power and innovation speed" has played an important role