“Bacon: The Gateway Meat” is the best-selling t-shirt at, and the philosophy of, Fleisher's Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, NY.Joshua Appleton was a lifelong vegan until he ate bacon six months into opening his butcher shop. His wife, co-owner Jessica Appleton, a former vegetarian, persuaded him. To paraphrase Linda Ronstadt, just one bite and he fell so hard in love.

“That’s why bacon is the ‘gateway’ meat,” he explains. Now he eats all of the meats that he cuts and sells.

Appleton’s vegan zeal was rooted in brotherly love. Crohn’s Disease restricted his brother’s diet, excluding meat, grains, raw fruits and vegetables, and dairy.

“He couldn’t eat ice cream. I loved him so much that I didn’t want him to see me eat it because it would make him feel bad,” explains Appleton, who remained vegan throughout his 15-year chef’s career. Now his passion for protein is so ferocious that even without bacon he could probably transform an ascetic vegan into a joyous carnivore.

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