Vegan meat goes prime-time as British Columbia-based The Very Good Butchers are set to appear on the popular Canadian TV series “Dragons Den” later this month, pitching their business for investment.
Butchers have long been synonymous with one function: carving up animal meat. But vegan meat butchers carving up plant-based ingredients such as wheat gluten, jackfruit, and vegetables are popping up all over the globe as interest in vegan food soars.
Vegan Meat Demand
Co-founded in 2016 by a chef of 13 years, James Davison, along with his partner Tania Friesen and her brother-in-law Mitchell Scott, The Very Good Butchers was the first ever plant-based butchers in British Columbia, and only the second in Canada. The first was Toronto-based YamChops, which opened in 2014 and also appeared on Dragons Den, managing to secure a $250,000 investment. The Very Good Butchers team are hoping to achieve similar success, allowing them to expand and increase production.
Consumer demand for meatless meat is high in British Columbia; nearly 40 percent of residents under the age of 35 follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, whilst 60 percent, regardless of diet preference, regularly consume plant-based meat.
The story is similar around the world, as new plant-based meat options are hitting supermarket shelves and restaurant menus more regularly than ever before. In the U.S., 80 percent of millennials eat vegan meat products consistently, and in the UK, vegan meat sales have surpassed £339 million, growing 17 percent in one year.
The Very Good Butchers concept, which aims to make plant-based meat appealing and accessible to everyone – including regular meat-eaters, began as a stall at a farmers market. Following a positive response at the markets, the team moved on to pop-ups, before opening a bricks ‘n’ mortar store set with a traditional butchers-style meat counter.
The butchers have now sold more than one million dollars-worth of vegan meat made from beans and veggies, and they have a waiting list of more than 100 different restaurants and grocery stores interested in stocking their products.
Expanding the Vegan Meat Market
In April, the butchers even launched their own monthly subscription service. The initiative allows shoppers to receive some of the brand’s best picks, delivered monthly to doorsteps around Canada. Smokin’ Burgers, Taco Stuff’er, and British Bangers are popular choices, as well as pepperoni, steaks, and ribs.
But the trio and their team have no intention of stopping there. According to Scott, they’re currently eyeing up a new spot in Vancouver and hope to increase production, with a little help from the Dragons and an online fundraising campaign.
“Since our opening day, where we had 1000 people show up and had to shut down for a week after to restock everything, we’ve been production limited,” Scott told LIVEKINDLY. “We get requests from all around the world from people who want to try our products. We’re excited to start meeting the demand for our products and showing the world that vegan food can be delicious and approachable.”
Until the episode airs, the team can’t reveal too much about how the butchery went down with the Dragons, but Scott noted that despite initial butterflies, the meeting was a success.
“We had a great time on Dragon’s Den,” he added. “There were definitely some initial nerves but we did a lot of preparation and once we got into the den everything flowed really nicely…towards the end, when we went into the little room to deliberate, we looked out the window and had a bit of a [expletive] moment.”
Prior to the Dragon’s Den appearance, The Very Good Butchers team started a FrontFundr campaign to help achieve their dreams of expansion.
Speaking in a promotional video, Scott and Davison stated, “People love our meat and we can’t make enough of it.”
“Help us change the world, one Very Good burger at a time,” they ask their fans. And so far, people have responded. To date, the crowdfunding campaign has raised 386 percent of its $100,000 goal.
According to the entrepreneurs, “Veganism is the future and we would like to pave the way.”
The Very Good Butchers will appear on “Dragons’ Den” on November 29 at 8 pm.
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