At least two local eateries are booming, thanks to an increase in vegan and plant-based diets. But studies still show that the average American eats 200 pounds of meat per year. We caught up with butcher Mark Wilson, who along with his wife Stephanie, are the new owners of Maxbauers Specialty Meat Market, to find out if meat is an endangered species in Traverse City.
Q: Do you think meat consumption will decrease as more people adopt a plant based diet?
I don’t think veganism threatens meat any more than alternative energy threatens gasoline. Different diets work for different people, but at the end of the day, customers are always going to decide on the direction of the business. Beef is here to stay.
We actually have quite a few vegetarian and vegan customers come in. I always try to convert them. All joking aside though, I really admire how they seem to treat the earth with a lot of respect. I do that too in how I source my meat. But I’m still trying to perfect a vegan beef sausage!
One trend I’m noticing is the movement towards knowing where the meat is coming from. There are some issues with getting local meats to consumers. Local grass-fed meat has to be sold frozen as we have to buy it ‘on the hoof.’ I’d love to help get more meat that is raised right here onto family dinner tables at a price that supports farmers and is affordable for customers.
Q: Do you think meat deserves the bad press it has gotten?
It is true that meat is a source of fat and cholesterol – which isn’t all bad – but I’ve got some advice for those watching their diet - buy really good meat. Sure, a prime cut might cost a little more per pound, but you need a smaller portion size. I’m smoking some artisan bacons right now that are incredibly lean. In fact, I’d love to do a bacon fest here in Traverse City.
Maxbauers is celebrating its 100th year in 2013. Plans for the upcoming year include a beer and bratwurst fest to raise money for the Northwest Michigan Food Coalition - a network of food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and other such organizations in six counties that work to provide food to hungry people and families.
Wilson welcomes people of all food persuasions to stop in and chat. “I’d love to talk to anyone about food,” he says. “I love food. Heck – I even love salad…although I like it with thousand island dressing, egg yolk and bacon.”