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The Vegetarian Butcher by Unilever​

Find out all there is to know about Unilever’s own brand of plant-based meat products, The Vegetarian Butcher. Through our plant-based meats, let your diners indulge in guilt-free, plant-based products with taste and texture that’s comparable to the real deal.

Our Brand and Founder

Jaap Korteweg is a 9th generation farmer and founding father of The Vegetarian Butcher.

How does someone, having grown up on a farm among the cows in the Dutch countryside, decide to become a Vegetarian Butcher? When the swine fever and the mad cow disease were holding the Netherlands in their grip, Jaap was asked whether his cold storages could be used as storage for tens of thousands of cadavers. Having witnessed this disaster, Jaap considered investing in keeping cattle, in an organic and animal friendly way. This 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 animal 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 animal meat, without actually having to eat animals.

After a three-year search, Jaap developed and found innovative meat substitutes with a spectacular bite and texture. With the help of top chefs, he added the flavour and experience of meat made from animals to the products. In addition, he saw a lot of potential in the protein rich and organic lupine from Dutch soil. 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 ideal is to have meat enthusiasts experience vegetarian meat products and to realise they don’t have to miss out on anything if they leave animal 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.


On the 11th of September 1962 a boy was born on a farm in the province West-Brabant of the Netherlands: Jaap Korteweg. He seems to have been born to take over his parents farming business (8th generation farmers and pastoralists) and he does, but he switches to an organic agricultural system.


The outbreak of the swine fever in 1998 caused at least one person to become a vegetarian. Jaap Korteweg, organic farmer, decides to refrain from eating animals. However, he keeps craving the taste, the bite and the texture of meat.

He 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 flavour 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 try our ‘meat’ made of legumes. They 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 The Vegetarian Butcher retailers.

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


Collaboration with Dutch supermarkets is a fact! As of now, all Coops, Ekoplazas and Jumbo supermarkets offer The Vegetarian Butcher products.

In a feature article in the New York Times, culinary columnist Mark Bittman wonders: "Why, in other words, use the poor chicken as a machine to produce meat when you can use a machine to produce ‘meat’ that seems like chicken?"

On the front page of NRCnext: “Preferring fake chicken over speed-bred chicken”. We’re taking the ‘meat’ out of meatballs! The poultry sector doesn’t like how The Vegetarian Butcher is “riding the wave of chicken’s good reputation” and files a complaint with the Food and Consumer authority about the product names. Even parliament questions the matter. The names are adjusted, proving that the flavour and structure of meat has been hacked and that vegetables could be the new meat.

Our chef develops Fish-free Eel Salad, which is awarded the title of “Tastiest product of the year”  at De Smaak van Nederland.

Export to Portugal. Within two years we gain 30 POP/retailers in a country with only 30,000 vegetarians.

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."


Launch of the NoBeef Burger in Paris. The traditional hamburger finally has a serious vegetarian challenger that can hold its own when compared to the original in all aspects, but is 7 times more sustainable.

JWT Intelligence marketers spot The Vegetarian Butcher as the worldwide promoter of a vegetarian trend making its definite breakthrough in 2013.

Partnership with Delhaize is a fact, allowing us to launch our products in Belgium.

The Dutch consumer association (Consumentenbond) praises our Vegan Chicken Chunks: “The Vegetarian Butcher is clearly the winner, delicious and tastes just like chicken. And in terms of nutritional value, it even surpasses chicken.

Our chef takes third place in the, Dutch newspaper, Telegraaf’s battle for the Gouden Gehaktbal (Golden Meatball) against 44 other participants all of which use real meat.

Our burger is settling in nicely in the Dutch consumer market: Dutch retail chain HEMA starts selling our NoBeef Burger in all its restaurants. Museums follow next!

Together with ‘Natuur & Milieu’ and ‘de Postcodeloterij’ we launch the Flexitarian campaign. 500,000 people are given a free box of Vegan Chicken Chunks or our Vegetarian Meatball!


Our transparent packaging is replaced by cardboard freezer boxes.

Consumentengids (Consumer association  Magazine): Our NoBeef Burger is awarded the highest rating of all vegetarian burgers: ‘A delicious herby flavour and appealing aroma.’

The Vegetarian Butcher Jaap Korteweg shares his story at TEDX Ede.

You'll find our Fish-free Tuna Salad on the menu at Bagels & Beans.

Our award cabinet gains a trophy: The Veggie Bite Award; the Vegan Award for being ‘Vegan Friendly'.


Successful crowdfunding campaign for the construction of our new facility: within three weeks we collect 2.5 million!

Jaap Korteweg won the award for “Entrepreneur of the Year 2015”.

On November first, we organized a Kick Off Party in our new factory for all our fans, partners and stakeholders. During this event we also introduced World’s first plant-based Steak in collaboration with Wageningen University (WUR).


We opened our first international concept store in Berlin.

We received many prizes in 2016!

Here is the list:

  • We won the “Sustainable Week Utrecht Award” in the category Retail.
  • Our NoChicken Chunks were awarded as “Best Vegan product” during the Vegan Awards 2016.
  • PETA handed us the award for “Most Caring Company”.
  • We received the “Corporate 4 Animals 2016 Award” of the Eurogroup for Animals.
  • Jaap Korteweg received the award for “EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2016”!

Together with UNOX we introduced “Vegetarian Meatballs in satay sauce"!

1 out of 6 Sausage Rolls sold at AH to Go every day is ours!

Introducing a wide range of vegan and vegetarian lunch meat at Albert Heijn Supermarket

Our Bratwurst gets international appeal by the awards for “Best Banger” in Leeds and “Best Vegetarian BBQ Product” in Belgium.


The jury of the New Food Challenge chose The Vegetarian Butcher as one of the eight finalists to develop a new meat substitute. In our case it was vegan braised meat.

The food revolution is expanding: The Vegetarian Butcher is founded in Israel, Greece and Finland.

The Vegetarian Butcher is named Marketing Scale Up Company of the Year and receives the Agrofood award from the province of Noord-Brabant in The Netherlands.

"More success follows: Jaap Korteweg reaches number two in the Sustainable top 100 of newspaper Trouw. "Jaap Korteweg shows how to make sustainability attractive for a large group [...]."

The Spring Roll from The Vegetarian Butcher comes out best with a blind test by newspaper the Algemeen Dagblad, whilst rating meat based spring rolls. Our Satay Rolls were also awarded and were named the 'PETA Vegan Food Awards Winner' in the category Best Vegan Sandwich!

A collaboration with the British premium supermarket chain Waitrose follows, replacing animal meat in traditional meat dishes.


On April 1 2018 The Vegetarian Butcher opened its own restaurant! One of the first vegetarian restaurants in the world where vegetable meat is the main focus. We are welcoming carnivores, omnivores, herbivores and flexivores for lunch and dinner. A place – situated in The Hague - where a new era, that of meat without animals, is ushered in tastefully.

Vegan NoChicken Chunks, vegan NoChicken Nuggets, NoBeef Burger and Little Willies (Lincolnshire Sausages) are available at Waitrose. More great news from the UK follows: Waitrose Vegetarian Green Thai Curry with The Vegetarian Butcher's vegan NoChicken Chunks wins a PETA UK Vegan Food Award!

Together with New York Pizza we developed a 100% vegan pizza, with a topping of vegan NoChicken Shawarma. Of every sold vegan pizza, a euro was donated to Sea Shepherd. The success of the launch resulted in a donation by New York Pizza of over € 59,213 to Sea Shepherd’s Shark Defense Campaign.

The Vegetarian Butcher is a newcomer in 'the Inspiring 40' by Synergie, ranked as one of the eight most inspiring organizations in the Netherlands (top 3: Ikea, Tesla and Apple).

Unilever acquired The Vegetarian Butcher. With this acquisition, Unilever responds to the growing trend among consumers to increasingly opt for vegetarian and vegan meals.

For The Vegetarian Butcher, the acquisition is the next step in its ambition to grow into ‘the largest butcher in the world’. “We want to conquer the world,” said founder Jaap Korteweg: “Unilever’s international network across 190 countries, provides every opportunity to accomplish this.”


Within a year after opening, The Vegetarian Butcher Restaurant De Vleesch Lobby (The Meat Lobby) was chosen to be the ‘Nicest Restaurant’ of The Hague! Within the province South Holland, our restaurant ended up third with an astonishing 9.4 (out of 10) review on average.

The millionth vegan Satay Roll flew off the shelves at Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn! The vegan roll, that was introduced in 2017, turns out to be a huge success within a wide range of meat lovers; from carnivore to vegan. Jurre found the golden ticket that was hidden in the package and won delicious prizes.

The Vegetarian Butcher is the Coolest Dutch Brand 2018! After multiple rounds and assessments by an expert jury, we won the title in the finale competing against Vandebron and Tony’s Chocolonely, with an incredible 77% of the votes.

There's even more! We win the FoodQualityAward from FoodPersonality. The jury: "The Vegetarian Butcher is a company that has really changed the world."

Culinary high-quality products

Our ideal is to have meat lovers experience our products and have them realise they don’t have to miss out on anything if they take meat out of their diet for one or more days. That is why we always try to capture the flavour of animal meat and why we characterise ourselves as an entirely new generation of meat and fish substitutes that are, according to top chefs and culinary journalists, indistinguishable from the real thing. Ferran Adria (El Bulli) was convinced that he was dealing with chicken thigh of excellent quality and Mark Bittman, culinary reviewer of the New York Times couldn’t find enough superlatives to describe his experience. The Independent headlined: “Is this the end of meat?”

Taking the animal out

Our mission is to free animals from the food chain by offering a complete and delicious alternative to meat. This will not only provide huge benefits in terms of efficiency, nature, environment, climate, bio diversity and the world food supply, but also in terms of animal welfare. The same way horses were once used to pull ploughs and have been replaced by mechanical horsepower, our products will make need for animals in our food chain a thing of the past.

Better for the environment 

Cattle emit the greenhouse gasses methane and nitrous oxide. Which are both a lot stronger (25 and 310 times) than CO². On top of that, cows, pigs and chickens cause a huge manure surplus causing pollution of our soil and groundwater. Poultry farms produce a lot of particulates which cause air pollution and can damage our health. All of our ‘meat’ is free of the before mentioned environmental disadvantages. Our products based on soy, have a smaller carbon footprint compared to that of real meat.