In one of the stories most indicitave of the plant-based scene in 2020, when Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner opened London’s first vegan butcher shop this Autumn, the new location immediately sold out of all stock, with queues round the block of customers dying to get their hands on this impressive range of vegan meat cuts.
We had the pleasure of chatting with founder Ruth Mumma about this phenomenal retail success and plans for the future.
Please introduce your brand and tell us about your motivation for its creation.
With the launch of Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner in Camden, 2018, we set out to prove that plant-based food is not all about lettuce leaves and celery sticks but that it could be just as indulgent as eating meat. The concept was built to combine my first-hand knowledge of authentic US junk food that is so often disassociated from vegan eats, with Matthew’s kitchen skills and passion for vegan cuisine. Since then, we have been able to achieve our aim of serving vegan food that is dirty AF and are now bringing that into people’s homes with nationwide delivery as well as the brand-new, first of its kind, vegan butchers in Islington.
The concept of a vegan butcher is an enticing one – can you tell us more about your product lines, for example how you source your meats and how you think they compare to their animal counterparts.
The Rudy’s Vegan Butcher offers a whole range of alternatives that will satisfy all meaty cravings from breakfast through to dinner. Reimagining the Full English, there will be the likes of homemade scrambled v-egg, delicious black puddin’ and soysage patties. There is also the brand-new charcuterie selection of smoked ham, salami de provence, pepperoni, oh and pastrami.
Other options allow you to cook up a comforting classic with the dirty beef patty, chilli-non-carne and cheeze sauce. Watch this space for new Rudy’s Vegan Butcher goodies. We don’t outsource our products, everything is developed and created by us. We will have more as quickly as Matthew can come up with new ideas.
Price parity is a big issue in terms of convincing meat-eaters to switch. How do your products compare in price with their animal counterparts?
Our prices match that of a quality meat butcher as we are offering the alternative in plant-based form. We believe that people should be buying better rather than just opting for any old meat substitute, and our products are all made from scratch by our team of chefs in the kitchen without any extra preservatives. We have found that our customers are willing to pay a little more for quality.
The launch of your butcher shop took place on November 1st, amid the latest wave from COVID 19.
Even though we knew it would be more difficult with all of the restrictions in place due to COVID 19, we really wanted to launch on World Vegan Day (1st November) which is also the start of World Vegan Month. Our aim has always been to start a conversation about the bigger picture of veganism, as well as get customers excited for Rudy’s. Our concept and our food is both a celebration and education of all things vegan, so what better time to open?
It has been a difficult year for the food service industry, can you tell us how it has been for Rudy’s diner.
Of course, it has been very hard for the hospitality industry this year. With our original diner based in Camden market, a lot of our customers are tourists, so we saw a significant decline in footfall. We were forced to close for a long time, but it has meant that we can focus on delivery and takeaway, and making this side of the business the best it can possibly be. It also gave us the time to develop the plans for our new butcher.
The percentage of vegans in the UK is still comparatively small, yet plant-based food growth has been tremendous this last year. Why do you think this is?
The appetite for veganism is out there, and I think the ‘flexitarian’ approach to living has become much more popular recently, meaning that people might not be fully plant-based just yet but they are choosing more vegan options over meat. We are seeing a slower but more permanent change of attitude across a larger number of people.
Your meal kits are interesting, please tell us about these and why you are marketing them.
Our diner food is incredibly popular and, even before the pandemic hit this year, we have always had an idea for people to be able to enjoy Rudy’s in their own homes. We chose our four best-selling items that are easy to replicate at home – the Rudy’s Reuben, Dirty Burger, Grilled Chick’n Caesar and Broccoli Mac ‘n’ Cheeze. Each box comes with everything that’s needed to make enough meals for two and includes a link to YouTube where our chef Matthew shows you how to put it together.
Is it too early to ask about your development plans? For example, do you think you will be able to expand your brand in the near future?
Expansion is something we are looking into, but you will just have to watch this space for upcoming news…
How do you see the future of our food systems?
The only real, sustainable way to live will be to give up eating animal products, the planet cannot continue to sustain our lifestyle at the moment.