The Vegetarian Butcher: This Meatless "Meat" is Real Deal

Berlin is among those cities that preaches diversity with the slogan to be yourself, many might consider it just full of party-loving and careless youth but what I have seen is that the millennials in Berlin much more responsible when it comes to the environment and eco-friendly living especially in terms of production and consumption of food.

You will find many choices of vegetarian and vegan meals all around the city and that's how I came across a unique concept store called Der Vegetarische Metzger located at Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg.

Its a brainchild of Jaap Korteweg, a 9th generation farmer and founding father of The Vegetarian Butcher. You might wonder how come someone having grown up on a farm among the cows in the Dutch countryside decided to become a Vegetarian Butcher? Well, he wasn't always vegetarian. During the outbreak of swine fever and the mad cow disease in the Netherlands, Jaap was asked whether his cold storages could be used as storage for tens of thousands of dead bodies.

Having witnessed this disaster, Jaap considered investing in keeping cattle, in an organic and animal-friendly way. The idea was great; until the day the cattle would have to be taken to the slaughterhouse. From that moment on he decided to become a vegetarian. But he missed the taste of meat so much, that he promised himself he would only eat meat when he went out for a meal.

It was clear to him that he had to find something that could satisfy his craving for meat, without actually having to eat animals. After a ten-year search, Jaap developed and found innovative meat substitutes with a spectacular bite and texture. With the help of top chefs, he added the flavor and experience of true meat to the products. In addition, he saw a lot of potential in the protein-rich and organic lupine from Dutch soil.

Flatbread Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries and Chicken Shawarma. 

Together with concept designer Niko Koffeman, chef Paul Bom and a devoted team, he is working on a big transition from animal to vegetable meat. Their idea is to have meat enthusiasts experience the meat-free products and to realize they don’t have to miss out on anything if they leave meat out of their diet for a couple of days a week. Jaap and his team’s ambition is to become the biggest butcher in the world, in a short time.


Jaap Korteweg was born on 11th of September in the province West-Brabant of the Netherlands. After finishing his education he took over his parents farming business (8th generation farmers and pastoralists) however he implemented several changes and opted for an organic agricultural system.


After becoming vegetarian during the outbreak of swine fever in 1998 Jaap gets in touch with producers of vegetable protein and scientists to take meat substitutes to the next level. Together with innovative chefs, he works on processes to capture the flavor of beef, pork and chicken in vegetarian products that are of at least the same, if not better, quality as the original.


On World Animal Day 2010, The Vegetarian Butcher is founded in The Hague. A modern style traditional butcher, where the only thing being slaughtered, is prejudice.


Ferran Adrià  (El Bulli, Barcelona) and a team of master chefs tried the ‘meatless’ made of legumes and applaud the substitute:

This is more tender than pork and juicier than chicken!

An increasing amount of greengrocers, certified butchers, and fresh product specialists are becoming Vegetarian Butcher retailers.


- The Vegetarian Butcher is awarded the title of “Tastiest product of the year” at De Smaak van Nederland for creating Fish-free Eel Salad.

- Export to Portugal. Within two years Vegetarian Butcher gains 30 POP/retailers in a country with only 30.000 vegetarians.

- Awarded the 2011 “Triodos Bank Hart-Hoofd” prize for ‘most innovative and inspiring company’.

- The Vegetarian Butcher reaches the Nima Marketing Awards finals.

- The “Most animal-friendly company of the year!” award is established by PETA, especially for The Vegetarian Butcher.

- Nick & Simon Dutch singer-songwriter duo and eel lovers, on the television show “Life 4 You”, fooled with vegetarian eel salad: “We completely fell for it

Next time you are in the area don't forget to try out this tastiest meatless meat, it really is a real deal. Also, you can try out some of their vegetarian and vegan recipes at home.

Der Vegetarische Metzger
Bergmannstraße 1 
10961 Berlin

By Lucas Wahlberg

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