Ahen the commercial departments published Rügenwalder Mühle’s sales figures two years ago, many were amazed: Vegan substitutes made more profit than sausages and meat sausages – in other words , what the family business from Lower Saxony has been earning its money for almost 200 years. Due to the ongoing vegetarian boom, Rügenwalder is even chomping at the production limit for meat-free products.
Nevertheless: In Germany, the vegetarian sausage remains a niche product. However, the demand for alternative proteins is increasing worldwide. The “Food for Thought: The Protein Transformation” study by the Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon predicted last year that meat consumption would have peaked in 2035, 13 years from now, in Europe and North America.
What does a visit to Berlin’s famous snack bar Currywurst, where meat has been in the spotlight since 1981, tell us about the vegetarian sausage trend? A lot, because a vegan currywurst has been enriching the range of the four Berlin branches of Curry 36 for three years. “Vegan currywurst is very popular”, says Mirko Großmann, director of Curry 36. , but the newcomer can’t compete with the meat-based “real currywurst”. But: “We don’t need to close our eyes, not eating meat is an important lever to fight against climate change”, says Großmann in his office above the headquarters at Mehringdamm 36 in Kreuzberg. As a snack bar you have to keep up with the times. Vegan substitutes are a matter of course today. Nothing more to ask for .
And what’s inside?
Curry 36 sources its vegan sausages from a retailer who also supplies other major customers. To make it as close as possible to the original in terms of texture, it is fried and not grilled on the grill next to the meat sausage. “The mild, al dente sausage meat is coated in a crunchy coating that mimics the crunch of currywurst with casing.”
And, contrary to what you might think: Substitutes don’t need tons of flavor enhancers, fat and salt to taste like meat.
A look at the ingredients of the vegetarian sausage: in addition to the main ingredients, soy protein, water, rapeseed oil and wheat protein, thickeners, flavourings, extracts of spices and a smoky flavor are used. Polysaccharides such as carrageenan and unspecified flavors in vegan sausages are diphosphates
and monosodium glutamate in the list of ingredients for “pork sausage with intestines”, for which meat from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is used. Normal sausage doesn’t taste good without any help either.
Either way: equate a sausage to the health value of freshly squeezed juice or vegetable soup – this math doesn’t add up anyway. On the contrary, this type of fast food is about animal welfare. “Despite the high quality of the products, we do not advertise that our products are healthy anyway,” says Großmann. Currywurst is something you treat yourself to once in a while. So gladly. And full of fun. In terms of price, both sausages do not take too much. The meat sausage in Mehringdamm costs two euros at 85 grams, the larger vegetarian sausage costs 2.50 euros at 115 grams.
Should pork and vegetable sausage eaters continue to tease each other: At Mehringdamm 36 they are harmoniously and aloof. And it’s not just women who go meatless: First, a young man in his thirties orders a vegan currywurst, followed shortly by an older man. With two out of seven hungry customers, that’s almost a third in less than ten minutes. At the end follows the personal comparison. Our photographer, who also eats meat, likes the vegan sausage, the meat version is better, it’s juicier. The author, a vegetarian for 20 years, is very fond of vegan sausage: she can finally eat currywurst again.