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Scottish butcher goes vegan for ethical beliefs

Brian Kavanagh, a former butcher, has shared his story of switching to a vegan lifestyle with the BBC and has started working for a vegan meat brand.

Brian decided to switch to a vegan life after watching the Earthlings documentary and was influenced by his wife’s choice to be vegan. He kept his choice to be vegan quiet from his work colleagues, fearing they would ridicule him for his decision. Shortly after, Brian left his job as a butcher.

Speaking to the BBC, Brian said: “I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell anyone because I was worried about them making jokes. Before I just looked at is as a piece of meat going on a dinner plate, but then you see it as an animal and not just a steak. I was a bit depressed, it just didn’t feel good, so I had to leave.”

Brian, his wife Rebecca and their two children lead a plant-based diet. With his previous occupation, Brian would often bring home meat for dinner. He added: “Me and the kids would have separate meals from my wife. Now, it’s so much easier doing it together.”

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His choice to go vegan led him to work for Sgaia’s Vegan Meats. The business supplies several restaurants in Glasgow, with the Durty Vegan Burger Club being a regular client. The products are created using soya, gluten and spices, with streaky ‘bacon’ and burgers amongst the brand’s ‘mheats’.

Brian said: “I was worried my background and my story might put them off, and they wouldn’t want someone who was a meat butcher for 15 years. But they were really excited about it and wanted me just as much as I wanted to work there.”

Brian’s passion for creating food quickly helped the brand launch one of its best-selling products, the vegan lorne sausage.

Speaking about the product, he said: “Making sausages was a big part of being a butcher. Once I saw how the vegan base was made, I thought it would be interesting to try to play about with that and create a lorne sausage.”

Brian added that switching to a vegan diet has helped his health. “My skin was the first thing I noticed. I always had spots until I was 30, but my skin became a lot clearer. I feel clearer in the mind too.

“It’s that psychological thing – you eat something healthy, you feel good.”

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