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Vegan Butcher Limonita

We know that veganism is much more than just a trend! Although it’s generally known as a sustainable diet and lifestyle based, veganism is in direct correlation with a range of global issues such as water and food equality, awareness of animal abuse and its destructive effects, and even social justice. We’re still in the early phases of discovery regarding veganism on the front lines of gastronomy. We talked about this with the creators of Limonita, an establishment which has achieved a first in Turkey by putting sustainability at the focus of all business processes and defines itself as a “butcher’s shop where animals are put on a pedestal, instead of the counter.”

Can you briefly tell us about yourself? How would you define yourself in three words?

We’re a group of four people who have different occupations that share a mutual dream. Deniz is an expert in digital advertising and software; Akın is a cyber security specialist; Türker is a maxillofacial surgeon; and Sefa is a sculptor. Deniz: Free, entrepreneur, creative Akın: Fair, rational, social Türker: Talented, productive, explorer Sefa: Creative, versatile, calm

How did you come up with the idea of Turkey’s first vegan butcher? How do you interpret the trend around the globe and the level of interest in Turkey?

We used to offer many frozen products for our customers; however, we didn’t have a separate establishment where we sold or merchandised these products. It was Türker’s idea to make Limonita into something further than a shop where we sell our products. He easily convinced us that we had enough variety of products to fill the shop because he made us believe in the concept of a vegan butcher and the power of this transformation. It’s actually a growing trend around the world. The reason we could open at the same time with England is because Turkey is one of the fastadopting countries in terms of trends. So, we really are in a very open-minded and supportive place when it comes to new products and developments. About people’s interest, I’d say it’s increasing in proportion to people’s willingness to give it a chance. It’s enough to try it once with no prejudices.

We know that Limonita is a family initiative. How did Limonita affect your perspective on the concept of family?

For us, family means support, stand by someone. Our families, friends, and partners played a major role in creating this brand by standing behind our ideas, sometimes even more than us. We’re on this path with our mothers, cousins, close friends, and teammates which have become a part of the family by now. We’re very lucky. You really realize the value of family in hard times because we occasionally feel alone, fighting on many fronts, and in those moments, they make us see that we in fact are not just by ourselves, that they stand by us despite our mistakes. We’ve had many moments like this, in which we could only move forward with their support. We’re trying to make our teammates feel that we’ll be a big family together.

Your family also has a restaurant. Let’s talk on that as well.

We opened our first restaurant in Kozyatağı. Initially we assigned the tasks solely based on our talents and fields of interest. We managed our first branch as a family business for a long time; however, when we opened the second and the third branches along with the butcher’s shop, every one of us had to take over an entire operation. We’re currently managing the butcher and restaurant branches in Moda with our partners. The branch in Kozyatağı is managed by our mothers and lovely teammates. We’re very good at maintaining the line between work and family, so it’d be better to say that we’re a highly dynamic initiative rather than a family business.

What are the pros and cons of working with your family?

When you’re working with family, you have more people who can be regarded as jack of all trades. The concept of work hours can become excessively flexible. No body abstains from taking responsibility. There were times when we worked nonstop for 16 or 17 hours or when we had to make a bed of chairs and pulled an all-nighter at the café. However, things can get a bit emotional when everyone’s family. At the end of the day, we know that each of us is working for what is best for us and Limonita, and this is what really matters.

Being vegan means being sensitive about the planet. You deliver orders by bike to reduce your carbon footprint. What was the hardest thing about embedding this sensitivity into your daily life and business?

Being vegan immanently means being more conscious of the world we live in; however, this sometimes causes vegans to be held accountable for social responsibilities. While being vegan “theoretically” means being substantially against animal abuse vegan people are expected to advocate many other issues such as respect for nature, women’s rights, human rights, LGBTI rights, or employee rights. Of course, we strive to make progress by standing against all kinds of abuse; however, these are immensely broad issues that require collective effort. Since we’re already aware of these issues, we don’t find it hard to implement it in our business processes. Receptiveness doesn’t differentiate between work and personal life. Once you look through that window and you’re upset by what you see, you can’t ever close that window again. We should keep in mind that we unwillingly may be partaking in some sort of abuse or cruelty; however, we never willingly take part in any kind of abuse.

Limonita also sells books in addition to vegan products. Can you tell us about the book on animal experiments?

Our dream is to show that there are many aspects and façades of abuse, much like with veganism, instead of having Limonita stand out only in the food industry. Diet is a minor detail both in veganism and for us. In Turkey, Deneye Hayır Derneği - a foundation against animal experiments - plays a big role in the advocacy of animal rights which is a basic element in veganism. We’re also a member of this foundation. Hayvan Deneyleri, written by founder Yağmur Özgür Güven, and Dr. Oğuzcan Kınıkoğlu, and their soon-to-be-published new book, serve as a guide in this field. What’s more normal than seeing a book at a butcher’s shop where animals are put on a pedestal, instead of the counter.

What do you have planned for the future? Do you have new projects?

We come up with a mini project almost every week. With this kind of energy and excitement, we want to contribute to this cause as much as we can. We have many different projects in mind from conducting research and development studies for new vegan products to a Vegan Museum, vegan art workshops for children to designing machinery for vegan production.

We’re sure that you have received some strange reactions. Do you have a story to share?

What we love the most about this job is the humour of it all. Humour is a useful tool that keeps us in this business and demonstrates that veganism isn’t some “difficult” or “marginal” lifestyle on the “dark side,” or that vegans aren’t “aggressive” for that matter. People associate veganism with being reactionary and resist even researching about this topic. We really believe that everyone could go vegan someday whether it’s purely for the sake of flavour, ideology, wellbeing, or simply being fair. Veganism is a lifestyle that offers something for everyone, and it deserves to have a positive connotation. Many of our customers have a great sense of humour. People come and ask for the “fatty side” of the tomato, boneless eggplants, or double-ground mince. We sometimes witness conversations you would hear in a traditional butcher’s shop. Nobody at our shop says they want something “vegan” because vegan is the norm here. I think people we meet along the way are the main reason we love doing this job this much.


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