Skip to content

Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: The Vegetarian Butcher


This week, Japp Korteweg sets the table for Sabbath at the Spectrum Café. In addition to memorable Sabbath meals, Sabbath at the Spectrum Café features guest columnists’ fresh perspectives on food, community and unique stories surrounding vegetarian cuisine.

My name is Jaap Korteweg, and I am an eighth-generation farmer from the Netherlands. Twenty years ago I decided to switch to organic farming on our farm, now 230 acres, where the challenge was to show that in this way, we could reap a harvest that was of higher quality than usual. Our company, Biotrio,is very successful, and for many years now we have been one of the largest organic vegetable and herb growers in Europe.

From my experience on a mixed farm, and after witnessing major disasters in large-scale animal farming in the Netherlands, I decided to try to shorten the food chain. I was—and still am—very attached to the taste, structure and feeling of meat, but the production was bothering me, so I decided not to eat animals anymore. As a response, I launched the world’s first Vegetarian Butcher, which cannot be distinguished from a traditional butcher, with one single difference: no slaughter animals are involved.

We market a completely new generation of meat substitutes, which are indistinguishable from real meat, in the most positive way. For example, we have developed 100 percent vegetarian chicken with exactly the same taste, appearance and texture as real chicken, but without the collateral damage or artificial additives.

Mark Bittman, food critic for The New York Times wrote a lyrical review about our chicken, “A Chicken Without Guilt.”When Ferran Adrià, the chef of El Bulli, tasted our meat he thought that he was dealing with “Chicken thigh of high quality, probably a free-range chicken from France.” And in the culinary capital of the world, Paris, France, we launched a vegetarian hamburger, which attracted lots of media attention earlier this month.

Within two years, we grew from one single shop to 500 Vegetarian Butcher dealers in the Netherlands. Our ambition is to be the biggest butcher in the world within 10 years.

We would like to benefit the world in terms of the environment, climate, health, fair food distribution, animal welfare and nature, in line with the heritage of Adventist food factories from the past and the ideas of Adventist pioneers. In theory, we could feed 30 billion people with a plant-based diet, using the current agricultural surface.And together with the Netherlands’ Wageningen University and Delft University of Technology, we are developing a new machine that makes fresh meat substitutes accessible for developing countries.

We are on the verge of a breakthrough that the food industry has not witnessed before. A century ago, 20 million horses in the United States were starting to be replaced by tractors. In a similar way, we will also be able to liberate the billions of slaughter animals from the food chain! Whereas a chicken yields about .66 lb (0.3 kg) of meat from about 2.2 lb (1 kg) of soy, the new “mechanical chicken” yields about 6.6 lb (3 kg) of chicken meat from the same amount of soy.

When the slaughter of animals becomes an outdated production method, the words of Albert Einstein can come true: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We hope to set foot on U.S. ground soon, when we find a suitable distributor, perhaps following the heritage of the Adventist food tradition.

The Vegetarian Butcher is linked with the Sabbath tradition in terms of culinary experience, but also in terms of a healthy mindset. I feel that mankind and the planet need to rest to be restored, and to touch ground. I know the Sabbath meal tradition from my wife, Marianne Thieme, and friend and business partner, Niko Koffeman, both members of the Adventist church. Vegetarian meals can complement the Sabbath holiday and give it extra meaning.

Jaap Korteweg is the founder of the Vegetarian Butcher, a vegan and vegetarian meat substitute company in the Netherlands. He is also the husband of Marianne Thieme, a Dutch politician of the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren).

For more images of the Vegetarian Butcher shop, products and more, click here.

This week’s recipe for Indonesian Stew (pictured, bottom left) comes from Jaap Korteweg in the Netherlands. He writes that as someone who eats vegetarian meat daily, this is his favorite recipe. Korteweg adds that the main difference between using vegetable meat and real meat in this recipe is that this sauté needs less time to simmer, because the vegetable meat is already precooked and tender. Serve with yellow rice and spicy green beans in coconut milk (top right and bottom right, respectively).

Indonesian Sauté

Total prep. time: 50 min.
Active prep. time: 20 min.
Serves: 4-6

2 medium onions, chopped
Optional: replace ¼ c onions with ¼ c chopped green onions
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 tbsp. reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
1/3  c + 2 tbsp. (100 mL) water
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste
1 pinch of nutmeg, or to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
12 oz. vegetarian chicken strips, 1 block (about 16 oz.) extra-firm tofu, or 1 cakes (about 16 oz.) tempeh
Optional: 2 tbsp. sesame seeds

1. Warm 2 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onions, and sauté for 10 minutes, or until nearly translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the garlic green onions (if using) and sauté for another five minutes.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients (soy sauce through pepper) and let simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

4. Sauté the vegetarian chicken, tofu or tempeh in the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick skillet, then add it to the sauce. Let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to evaporate and the sauce becomes thicker. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.


Looking for a recipe from a previous meal at the Spectrum Café? See previous weeks’ postings below.

Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: Craveable Foods

Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: In Praise of Potluck

Sabbath at the Spectrum Café

Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: Sweet Potato Tacos

Sabbath Lunch at the Spectrum Café

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.