The French supermarket Carrefour, the 8th largest supermarket chain in the world, has now vegan butcher counters. Selling fake meats from so-called “vegan butcher counters” that imitate traditional butcher shops but only sell plant-based imitations of meat can be found now in cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis and various places in the UK. Now Carrefour will be putting its vegan substitute meat offering, which it claims to be a first in France, on sale at its in-store butcher counters inside their 12,000 supermarkets. The Vegetarian Butcher, a popular Dutch brand bought by Unilever in 2018, will provide their fake meats.

Carrefour will begin by offering four meat substitute products: soy-based mince at €13.90 per kilo, soy-based  “chicken” breaded nuggets, chicken-style chunks and veggie burger patties at €12.90 per kilo.

This move comes after the launch and extension of its Carrefour Veggie brand and the exclusive nationwide marketing of La Vie vegan products. A spokesperson from Carrefour said “Bringing these two types of products together simplifies the shopping experience for our customers who want to go vegan. The second big first is that Carrefour is the first major retailer to market these delicious products that have already won over Burger King.”

France is notorious for not being very vegan-friendly and consuming lots of animal flesh and dairy, so advances like this are particularly significant in this country. However, it is not clear whether this type of “imitation” shopping, where products that look like meat are sold in places that imitate butchers, will have much future once the novelty faces off. It is unlikely that long term vegans, which would have a natural aversion to slaughterhouses, butcher shops, and fishmongers, would buy their food from them. This may be more of a publicity strategy aiming to reducetarians and flexitarians, who normally are quite comfortable around the bodies of dead animals and might not care that much about the smell of animal flesh around the plant-based sections of the butcher counters of big supermarkets. Many vegans, on the other side, may consider the concept of “vegan butcher” to be an oxymoron. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.