Barbeque season is here! There have never been so many awesome, planted-based options for the grill, and The Very Good Butchers make some of the absolute best! These self-described ‘Bean Butchers’ whip up vegan versions of everything from sausages and pepperoni, to burgers and roasts, and the huge public excitement we experienced when we started carrying their products speaks volumes about how tasty it all is. And it’s all made locally, right in Victoria, BC! True to their company name, founders James and Tania, and team member Mitchell (who has kindly answered these questions!) approach the business with the same ethos as running a local village shop—read on to learn a little about their journey to becoming master Bean Butchers!
The Very Good Butchers Mini Interview
Share your story with us in a 150 words or less.
James and Tania started The Very Good Butchers out of their kitchen on Denman Island. They developed two products (burgers and bangers) and took them to the local farmers market. They were selling out every weekend. I (Mitchell) tasted their products at a family BBQ and was blown away. We teamed up and did a Christmas market pop-up in Victoria. That was very well received so the three of us decided to open the first vegan butcher shop on the west coast of Canada a few months later. We had 1000 people show up on our opening day and had to shut down for a week after that just to restock everything. Since then we've been rapidly expanding. We had successful Kickstarter and FrontFundr campaigns, appeared on Dragon's Den, opened a bigger butcher shop and have just opened a new 4000 square foot production facility here in Victoria.
Getting from an idea to a small business is a lot of work! When did it first sink in for you that ‘this is really happening’?
I think it was our opening day in Victoria. We'd worked hard to get everything ready but we weren't sure if our concept was going to work or not. After the huge interest and excitement on opening day we knew that we were onto something.
Out of all your products, which is your personal favourite and why?
Our adzuki bean pepperoni. It was one of the first products developed and I just really enjoy the taste. It's great on charcuterie boards or pizza.We used to make an amazing Pepperoni Stromboli sandwich at the original location as well and it was my favourite menu item. It's one we regularly sample at farmers markets and events and people really seem to enjoy it.
What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?
Our customers. Every day we get messages from people all around the world who want to try our products. I want to grow the Very Good Butchers to the point where anybody, anywhere, can get their hands on some delicious plant based meat.
What’s your favourite thing about the town or city you live in?
I like Victoria because it's a big enough city to have some amenities (good vegan food, decent pubs etc.) but it's also super easy to get away from all of that and find yourself on a deserted beach or up a mountain in a park. Having lived in both L.A. and Tokyo I really appreciated coming back to Victoria and being so much closer to nature.
Describe your ideal Sunday morning, including your breakfast.
Wake up (late), make some bagels with all the fixings (lettuce, tomato, avocado, vegan mayo, cheeze, bacun etc.) maybe fry up some hashbrowns, have a coffee, and then go somewhere new.
What are your personal top tips for feeling awesome?
Be constantly learning (books, blog posts, audiobooks etc.).
Eat good food.
Have fun (whatever that looks like for you).