“Save the currywurst.” With these words, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the disappearance of the country’s culinary pride from the canteen of the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg. Schröder appears to view the currywurst ban as a threat to Germany’s cultural heritage, but Volkswagen’s top executives proved insensitive to his criticism. The last currywursts will be served on Friday, after which the company canteen will switch completely to vegetarian and vegan food.
The reason for the new menu is the changed preferences of employees. They would have asked for more plant-based alternatives to meat, according to an internal information letter in the hands of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This while the currywursts were not available two years ago. The Volkswagen butcher’s shop processed about 7 million sausages and about 550,000 kilos of ketchup in 2019.
Schröder doubts whether the employees are happy with the new plant-based offer. “Curry sausage with fries are power food for production workers.” If he had still been on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, this would not have happened, says Schröder, who oversaw the carmaker’s policy in the 1990s. “When I’m in Berlin, my first route usually leads me to one of the excellent currywurst stalls,” he continues his culinary eulogy. He concluded the message with the hashtag #RettetdieCurrywurst.
Volkswagen’s decision follows a social trend. In 2020, 10 percent of all Germans will eat vegetarian, a doubling compared to the previous year. The German market for meat substitutes such as tofu sausages and pea cutlets is growing rapidly, while meat production is falling. If the food market continues to change at the same pace in the coming years, there could be more meat substitutes in circulation than real cuts of meat by 2034, according to a report published Wednesday by the Department of Agriculture.