The Very Good Butchers, based in Vancouver, B.C, is a large player in the Canadian plant-based space that produces a wide variety of alternative protein products. The company recently reached out to me just in time for BBQ season to see if I wanted to try one of its vegan butcher boxes, and I was intrigued by the offer and decided to try it out.
Wheat gluten is the primary ingredient in most of The Very Good Butchers’ meat alternative products, as well as other plant-based ingredients like adzuki beans, kidney beans, mushrooms, jackfruit, and a variety of vegetables. This year, The Very Good Butchers acquired The Cultured Nut, which produces artisanal vegan cheeses, cream cheese spreads, and butter. The Very Good Butchers currently offer Cultured Nut’s products in a few of their boxes, and will eventually change Cultured Nut’s name to The Very Good Cheese Company.
The “butcher box” I received contained plant-based bangers (sausages), burger patties, jackfruit taco meat, and pepperoni. I’ll start out by saying that I am normally not a fan of seitan or wheat-based meat alternatives due to the texture and how dense these products feel. What I enjoyed most was the umami and smokey flavors of each of the alternative meats, and the fact that they were high in protein. What I did not like was how some of the products, like the bangers specifically, had a rubbery texture, which I attribute to the wheat gluten.
My favorite product was the alternative pepperoni, which had a strong fennel flavor and a slightly spicy kick; I sliced this on top of pizza. The plant-based burger patties had a great smokey flavor and came precooked with grill marks. Since the burger was quite dense, I opted to eat it over greens rather than in a bun. I ate the bangers alone, but I think I would have enjoyed them more eaten hot dog style in a bun with ketchup and mustard. The jackfruit taco stuffers were well-seasoned and provided a quick and easy meal inside a corn tortilla (this product would also be good as a burrito filling).
Not having to leave my house to gather up these plant-based meats was convenient, and I enjoyed the novelty of opening a box laden with vegan goods. Direct-to-consumer home delivery accelerated after the start of the pandemic, and companies like Chipotle and PepsiCo. began offering this type of service. As the world slowly opens back up and the “post-pandemic” world is seemingly in site, D2C services are still expected to grow by nearly 20 percent this year.
In addition to The Very Good Butchers, a few other plant-based meat companies offer direct-top-consumer home delivery. Last year when D2C services were surging, both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods launched their own direct to consumer platforms to allow customers to buy its products in bulk.
The plant-based space has come a long way in terms of creating products that closely emulate their meat counterparts. The Very Good Butchers do a good job of demonstrating of how plant-based ingredients can be transformed into a diversity of meat analogs. Although some plant-based alternatives aren’t exactly on par with what they are trying to replicate, it is still impressive to see what ingredients like wheat, soy, peas, and legumes can create. For many people seeking plant-based based alternatives, myself included, we are not looking for an exact replica of meat, but simply a high protein alternative that tastes good.
If you’re interested in checking out The Very Good Butcher’s alt-meat boxes, they are available on the company’s website. The smallest box starts at $50 (enough for 13+ meals), and the largest box costs $99 (enough for 28+ meals).