Dirty Jokes and Cleaner Eating: How Slutty Vegan Is Reshaping Our Conversation Around Food
If you’re a fan of double entendres and meatless cuisine, then you will love Slutty Vegan. The restaurant sits in the heart of Atlanta and offers plant-based burgers, sandwiches and milkshakes with names that could make a few people blush.
The “Ménage à Trois,” “Heaux Boy,” and “One Night Stand” are just a few names on the Slutty Vegan menu that have been known to catch people’s eyes. Vegan bacon, burger patties, shrimp and cheeses are offered throughout the menu alongside fresh vegetables.
Founded in 2018 by Clark-Atlanta University alum and former campus queen Pinky Cole, Slutty Vegan was born out of tragedy.
Cole previously owned two eateries in Harlem: a Jamaican restaurant and Pinky’s Juice Bar. The restaurant burned down and the financial strain led Cole to close the juice bar, forcing her to shift sights on Atlanta.
As Cole’s third business venture, Slutty Vegan originally started in a shared kitchen in August. The Atlanta community quickly caught wind of Cole’s vegan creations when one of her client’s posted a meal on Instagram. “Things haven’t been the same since,” Cole said. With an increase in customers, Cole bought a food truck and moved out of the shared kitchen.
“Slutty Vegan is my redemption song,” Cole said. “It’s like the Cardi B of food – the glow-up has been so real.”
Cole wants to use Slutty Vegan to introduce more Black people, especially in the South, to plant-based options. She has visited Spelman, Morehouse and Clark-Atlanta’s homecomings with her food truck and received praise across campuses.
“I sell vegan junk food. I get that, but it’s an introduction to something so much bigger,” Cole said. “It’s going to change the course of our history and it’s going to change the dynamic of our community.”
Pinky said it has been exciting to see the response from customers in Atlanta and her celebrity clientele. Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Iyanla Vanzant, Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Porsha Williams have all enjoyed some of Slutty Vegan’s menu items.
“I’ve realized that your life can change overnight. Nothing is impossible,” Pinky said. “I don’t even know what I would do if Beyoncé ate one of my burgers.”
Last week, the music icon and her husband Jay-Z encouraged fans to switch over to a vegan lifestyle in their written introduction to Beyoncé’s trainer Marco Borges’ new book “The Greenprint.” So hey, maybe Cole’s dreams could come true.
Meatless and plant-based alternatives are becoming increasingly common in grocery stores around the U.S.; however, a 2018 Gallup poll said that less than 10 percent of Americans are vegan or vegetarian. Only 3 percent of respondents said they were vegans, changing little from the 2 percent of people who ascribed to veganism in 2012 when the last poll was completed.
Cole advises people who are interested in going vegan to take things in small steps.
“First cut out the dairy, then red meats, then the chicken, then the fish,” Cole said. “It’s much easier when you cut things out of your diet one step at a time because your taste buds will change.”
Cole was raised by Rastafarian parents who did not eat meat and was a vegetarian throughout college. She’s been fully vegan for four years and said it has been the best experience in her life. Cole said that veganism has forced her to discover new dishes.
“The level of mental clarity that I have is indescribable. I can’t explain how good I feel,” Cole said. “When you feel good, you look good.”
Studies have shown that vegetarian and vegan diets help prevent diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease — all of which are prevalent in the black community. According to the American Heart Association, African-Americans develop high blood pressure at younger ages than other groups in the U.S.
“We’re changing the conversations about food and health now,” Cole said. “We’re moving in a direction where diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension don’t necessarily have to be a thing if you make the right choices and eat the right food.”
Slutty Vegan now has 16 employees and is opening a new brick-and-mortar restaurant on Sunday, January 13.