Allison of Pure Abundance is stirring up a vegan cheese revolution. She snuck into the G&G office and left a goodie in each of your bags this week – a sample of her delicious cashew cheese! Learn more about what one customer describes as “arguably the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
G&G: Why cashew cheese?
AW: Until 5 years ago, my only kitchen skills were opening wine and making grilled cheese sandwiches. I saw no need to cook for myself when restaurants did it so well. That changed when I found a dog playing in traffic and brought her home. My dog caused me to make the connection between the animals we love and the animals we use for food. I wanted no part of animal agriculture, but I’m too much of a foodie to exist on salads and veggie plates. The only solution was to learn how to prepare my own food. I learned, to my immense relief, that vegan food can be every bit as delicious as animal-based food, and I knew my purpose was to help animals by teaching people that plants taste good. I tried all kinds of experiments in the kitchen, and the first time I attempted Cashew Cheese, it was magic. It was love at first bite, and I still love it enough to eat it every day.
G:G What is your favorite way to eat your cashew cheese?
AW: A Luna grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. Spicy lentil tacos with guacamole and grated Luna are delicious. Pan is great in grits or crumbled over veggies and roasted. When I want a restaurant to do the cooking, I head to Dulce Vegan for a Green Goddess Grilled Cheese featuring Pan or O4W Pizza for a Margarita Pizza with Luna. And sometimes I eat Luna right out of the package like a giant cookie.
G&G: What has been the best experience of starting up this business so far?
AW: The best experience is how my business has connected me with so many wonderful people in Atlanta and beyond. This town is full of amazing people who are making the world a better place in their own way. My product exists at the convergence of the local food, vegan, and wellness worlds, and it’s a sweet place to be. There’s a sense of camaraderie and support that makes me happy and keeps me optimistic about Atlanta’s present and future.
G&G: Why did you choose Old 4th Ward to set up shop?
AW: When I found the O4W/Inman Park area, I found my home. There’s nowhere else I’d rather spend my days. Our kitchen is inside Irwin Street Market. Two years ago, when I was figuring out how to turn the cheese into a business, I met Jake Rothschild (of Jake’s Ice Cream and Irwin Street Market). We connected right away, and he has been a dear friend and mentor ever since. Irwin Street Market is a perfect fit for Pure Abundance.
G&G:What do you say to the skeptics who think vegan products won’t taste as good?
AW: Pure Abundance fans are omnivores, vegans, and everyone in between. The new generation of vegan cheese isn’t a cheese alternative, it’s cheese in its own right. Approach it with an open mind and appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn’t. And don’t get hung up on the word vegan. You aren’t required to be vegan to enjoy vegan food. Most omnivores I encounter these days are sophisticated enough to understand this.
G&G: What’s your favorite place to eat in Atlanta?
AW: Cafe Sunflower and Dulce Vegan are my go-to places. For fine dining, Restaurant Eugene does an incredible multi-course vegan dinner if you request it in advance. What Atlanta needs is an upscale vegan restaurant along the lines of Plant in Asheville. I hope someone makes it happen soon. (It won’t be me, but I’ll be a regular customer!)
G&G: If you could be a fruit or veggie what would you be and why?
AW: Romanesco. It’s beautiful, delicious, and nourishing, and people get excited and happy when they see one.