Vegans of Color

How Kale Walch Perfected Meatless Meat and Took Over the Vegan World With His Sister

The Herbivorous Butcher’s co-founder discusses his vegan journey, his family’s love of food, and starting an animal sanctuary

Published in
11 min readApr 6, 2020


Photos provided by The Herbivorous Butcher

One of the hardest parts of changing your diet is the cutting out a favorite food—and for Kale Walch, that challenge became an opportunity for inspiration. After turning a full 180° away from greasy fast food and towards a vegan diet in 2012, the budding chef embraced his creativity in the kitchen. “I really needed something that would really convince myself to stay vegan,” says Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher, “and that’s when my passion for the vegan meats and cheeses really started. I was obsessed with getting the textures and the flavors just right.” Kale shared the batches of vegan meats with his older sister Aubry, who was working on recipes of her own, and the idea for a vegan butcher shop was born.

With a daily menu that includes everything from Korean style ribs to dill havarti, customers can make the vegan sandwich of their dreams after stocking up at the Herbivorous Butcher’s Minneapolis location. Tenderly spoke over the phone with Kale Walch about starting a business with his sister, the process of perfecting his signature Smoky House Ribs, and the hurdles their sanctuary Herbivorous Acres faced.

Tenderly: What is your ethnic and cultural background? Where did you grow up?

Kale Walch: I’m from Guam originally, and unfortunately [my family] brought me here to Minnesota when I was six months old. My mom is Guamanian and Japanese by birth, and my dad’s a white guy from Southern California. They had a fairy tale romance on Guam — he was a big radio host, and she hosted a Wheel of Fortune type of game show at night. They met in the studio halls.

Either way, I’m half Guamanian and half white, long story short. But I grew up here in Minneapolis.

So how’d you end up in Minnesota?

My sister [Aubry], who’s 13 years older than me, wanted to move to the States because she thought that she…