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The success of Slutty Vegan, where the loaded burgers with Impossible Foods patties have names like One Night Stand, Fussy Hussy or the Sloppy Toppy, may have been sudden, but it didn’t come easy. Cole was born in Baltimore to immigrants from Jamaica. On the day she was born, her father was sent to federal prison. He served 20 years before he was deported back to Jamaica.

“I grew up in a house with a single mother who worked four jobs. My father was in prison. I was supposed to be a statistic. You hear what I’m saying to you?” said Cole, who leans in and chops the air with her hands when she makes a point.

Now Cole, 31 years old, runs a business with 36 employees.

She used to produce television shows, which explains why her social media skills are so slick. But what makes everyone talk about the burgers at Slutty Vegan are the big flavors. Cole, who has eaten vegan for years, was quick to point out that Atlanta had long had vegan restaurants, many of them black-owned. But Slutty Vegan, she said, was different. Cole guessed that only “3 percent” of her customers were vegan and, at least in the beginning, nearly all of them were black. The burgers are spilling over with toppings like vegan bacon, vegan cheese, vegan shrimp, jalapeños, guacamole, caramelized onions and “slutty sauce.”

“The reality of it is that before Slutty Vegan veganism wasn’t a thing where black people said, ‘I want vegan food.’ Our palates are so dynamic, right? We love flavor, and I’m just talking true,” Cole said.

Black-owned vegan eateries are spicing up Southern cuisine | Food and Cooking
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