Pinky Cole Tells The Secret Behind The Slutty Vegan Name - Exclusive

During a recent interview with Mashed, restaurateur, activist, philanthropist, and new mom Pinky Cole had a lot to say about a lot of subjects. She talked about life as businesswoman, her extensive work in the community, and adjusting to motherhood (That part in a nutshell? "It's a lot of work! Even with help, it's definitely hard," Cole said). 

She also talked at length about veganism, from the foods she loves to the foods her restaurant serves and the all too common misconceptions people have about a vegan diet ("I love all the things that the average meat eater likes, I just eat it vegan"). There was one burning question we just had to get out of the way right from the start: "How did you come up with the name Slutty Vegan?"

"So I came up with Slutty Vegan in 2018, three years after having a restaurant catch fire due to a grease fire," Cole explained. "I was working in TV and relocated temporarily to Atlanta, Georgia. And while I was in my bedroom, I came up with this crazy idea called Slutty Vegan. There really was no precursor to the idea. I was just sitting in my room and Slutty Vegan hit me like a light bulb."

Once she had the undeniably memorable name stuck in her own head, Cole began to work on converting her "light bulb moment" idea into a reality, and on that is today a popular and thriving spot in the Atlanta culinary scene. That answered our question about the name, but why open a fast casual vegan burger joint in the first place?

That was a whole different part of the story, it turned out.

Why Pinky Cole started her Slutty Vegan restaurant

Remember how Pinky Cole said she eats all the same foods as a meat eater, only in vegan form? She means it. "I'm a foodie, and I'll be the first to tell you I'm probably one of thickest vegans you going to meet, but I love to eat food," says Cole. And that love for food is exactly why she made up her mind to create Slutty Vegan, a restaurant that specializes, in her own words, selling "burgers, pies, and fries." 

In launching Slutty Vegan, Cole says, "I was literally solving a personal problem for myself, because I wanted some vegan comfort food on a late night. But what I realized is I was solving a universal problem. And that was really helping people to reimagine food. And the rest has been history ever since."

That history, now leaving its mark on Atlanta and poised to grow beyond, all stemmed from a very personal place for Pinky Cole. "I love to feed my friends and family, and I love to create things for them," she says. And if the foods she and her cooks create ends up creating some newly minted vegans along the way, all the better.

"I can recreate the food that everybody in the world loves and make it vegan and make it taste exactly the same," she continues, "and you don't feel like you're missing anything. People feel like vegan food doesn't taste good because it lacks flavor or [it's] not creative enough, but I like to make those things creative. And if I can introduce those new items to people who like those type of cuisines, then I know for a fact that I could be able to convert them to trying a vegan and plant-based lifestyle."

Follow Pinky Cole on Instagram or at Pinky Gives Back and check out Slutty Vegan when you visit ATL.