A vegan shop called Bezmasna has recently opened in the Letná district of Prague, the Czech capital, and is believed to be the first “vegan butcher” shop in the country. It provides plant-based versions of popular Czech foods, including chlebíček, cold cuts, and meatloaf. 

Czechia has a growing vegan population, with a high number of plant-based eateries compared to population size. Prague is regarded as a vegan-friendly city, with the app Happy Cow currently showing 45 fully vegan restaurants. A spokesperson for the Česká Veganská Společnost (Czech Vegan Society) said, “The market situation has improved significantly in the past years. I dare say that to some extent we have caught up with countries from the West (UK, Germany, …).”

Like any central and southern European Country, Czechia has lots of plant-based food (such as vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits, etc.) much cheaper and healthier than meat-based food. Still, it is also a very carnist country, and traditional Czech cuisine tends to be very meat-heavy. This is why many people born there, including some new vegans, would still prefer to eat plant-based food if changed to look and taste like processed animal flesh. Hence the creation of “vegan butchers”, which maintain the looks and terms associated with animal exploitation, but without actually exploiting any animal. This concept was initially developed by Jaap Korteweg in the Netherlands, where the first “Vegetarian Butcher” opened in 2010.

Hopefully in future, when the percentage of vegans in the population grows, and most have moved beyond their initial transitional years, citizens will realise that vegan food that looks like plants, not processed animals, is much healthier and equally as delicious, so this sort of shop will no longer be needed.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“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’.