Panagiotis Magoulas: The 25-year-old who opened a vegan "butcher" shop

Panagiotis Magoulas

Panagiotis Magoulas became a vegan in one night, went on the TV show Dragon's Den, won investors, and, in a short time, started his own business, a vegan "butcher" shop.

At 25 years old, Panagiotis is more mature than anyone his age. Conscious, measured, with clear ideas and a clearer smile. I had heard of him from his appearance on the TV show Dragon's Den, where he pitched his vision for a vegan "butcher" shop.

"I went on the game by chance. An acquaintance told me about it, and I didn't miss the opportunity. I was looking for resources to start my own business at the time. Either I would get a loan or a subsidy or borrow from relatives and friends. Eventually, the judges liked the idea and that's how I got investors."

How did it start?

The idea of ​​Panagiotis was born during quarantine. He worked as a cook, and this on-off of his focus created uncertainty. So he thought of making something of his own, but not affected by COVID.

"I had in my mind that this story wouldn't end anytime soon, and it would take a long time, so the vegan 'butcher shop' was the perfect idea," he said. "I had seen that he had opened something similar in London, Rudy's, and I liked his philosophy."

He worked two jobs to make ends meet. His goal was a small neighbourhood shop in Nea Ionia, where he would sell vegetable "meats".

"Imagine that everything you find in a conventional butcher's shop you would also find in my shop, except that it would be made from nuts, soy, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), as well as wheat protein," he explained.

Of course, his plans changed shortly after he participated in the show; the little shop he had in mind became a whole unit and everything took its course, and at the end of September, the first products were released.

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How he became vegan

"It was June 6, 2018, when I saw James Wildman's talk '101 Reasons to Go Vegan' on YouTube. He convinced me with his logic and how he presented things. So it changed my whole philosophy," he said.

That night, he threw out all the animal stuff in his fridge and cupboards and began implementing his new nutritional philosophy.

"I read that man can live without meat and that he can replace animal protein with vegetable protein. And since those alternatives exist, I will choose them. I didn't become vegan because I wouldn't say I like meat. I became a vegan for animals, for ethical reasons," Panagiotis explained.

It wasn't easy at first, since he didn't know anything.

"I didn't know where and what to shop for, where to go to eat and everything related. I didn't have any friends with the same interests either. Only my girlfriend, who also became vegan, was almost with me, but she was studying in Komotini," he said.

But little by little, he found everything searching. He was constantly looking for the healthiest products – “many vegan products contain substances that are not good for us to consume daily. I want these not to exist, and they will not exist in my products."

Where do you eat, Panagiotis?

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"I usually eat in vegan restaurants. Athens Vegan Burger, in Monastiraki, has an awesome burger. In the south, in Glyfada, I often go to Av It, which has smart ideas and careful raw materials. Another choice of mine is Giji, also in Glyfada, more refined, at Vegan Beat in the centre with an awesome mushroom skewer. Treis used to be one of the first shops I preferred, but now it confuses me with the large catalogue it has," he tells me.

But he also goes to "conventional" restaurants, as he describes them: "I always find something to eat, since everything now has a vegan option. Even at a steakhouse, I'll find something to take, a simple pie with potatoes and tomatoes, for example. In general, now I don't have a problem when I go out with my friends."

Of course, he cooks a lot himself at home. He likes to experiment, so he goes into the kitchen three or four times to make something.

"I'm forced to eat most of them myself; that's why I've gained ten kilos," he tells me.

The Vegan 269

This will be the name of his business and products. "Vegan because that's what my father says," he tells me with a smile.

As for the number 269, "that was the number on the tag of the first cow that was saved by activists a few days before it was slaughtered in Israel and has become a vegan symbol," he explained to me. As for his company's logo, it's a steak but made of vegetables.

Initially, he will only sell wholesale, while the immediate plans are to introduce his products to supermarket shelves and e-shops.

Photos: Sissy Morphy

Vasilis Dimaras is a reporter for Olive Magazine.

READ MORE: Greece 5th on the list for vegetarians in Europe.

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