I have a treat for you.
A few months ago, at Vida Vegan Con in Portland, I had the pleasure of sitting across a dinner table from Allison Rivers Samson (here she is with the lovely Jasmin).
Allison is vivacious, charming, and kind, and when I heard about her successful business—the renowned vegan bakery, Allison’s Gourmet—I was deeply impressed. I’d known Allison from her “Veganize It!” column in VegNews, but had no idea she was also the reigning maven of vegan desserts and confections (as Rory Freedman has called her).
Allison has been a vegan for 15 years. Her passion for animals, the environment, and health is obvious: nearly any photo you’ll find of her online will also include an animal friend:
After receiving chef’s training at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Allison resolved to show the world that vegan baking is innovative, exciting, and delicious. Without eggs, dairy, milk, or the use and abuse of animals. She opened AllisonsCookies.com, which quickly expanded into a full blown bakery—Allison’s Gourmet. Today, the bakery sells brownies, caramels, toffee, and more. All with organic ingredients, and without the use of excessively processed foods. Allison’s cookies and brownies aren’t “pretty good, considering that they’re vegan.” They’re excellent, period, and can hold their own next to any dessert you’ve tried.
I should know. Every year, my friends at VegNews send their columnists a box from Allison as a holiday gift. I always look forward, and so it was with great delight that I came home to this package last week:
In it were packaged the most grown-up brownies I’ve ever had: dark chocolate and orange brownies. They are fragrant, elegant, and complex. And they’re stuffed with dark chocolate chips. Who could resist?
Do you guys remember my post on what it means to be an activist? I mentioned there that I think one of the more powerful forms of activism is culinary activism. This means helping people to find veganism through its rich and wonderful cuisine. As my friend Lisa pointed out when I wrote that post, people really mean it when they say “I could never live without cheese.” Our attachment to food is a deep and important part of our biology and culture, as is the pleasure we take in eating. The fear of having to “do without” favorite foods—from cookies to cakes to croissants—is natural, and it is a huge deterrent to people who haven’t been shown that vegan food is delicious in its own right, and demands little real sacrifice.
Allison does her part as an activist every single day, by showing consumers that it is possible both to stand up for animals and to eat a plentiful and pleasurable diet. Vegan chefs, bakers, and restaurant owners are big heroes of mine, because they show the world that veganism is not only ethically fulfilling, but sensually fulfilling, too.
You can be a culinary activist, too. This holiday season, give a loved one who is skeptical of your lifestyle choices—or anyone with a true love of food—some cookies, brownies, or confections from Allison’s gourmet. Show him or her that veganism is not a sacrifice of pleasure or taste. Share the beauty of vegan dining with people who wouldn’t otherwise get to experience it. Be an ambassador for plant-based cuisine.
And if you’d rather enjoy one of Allison’s creations yourself, you can do that, too. Just promise you’ll share.
Allison is offering one lucky Choosing Raw reader a $20 gift certificate to her online bakery. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on Friday, December 16th, which means that you will have time to place an order for holiday delivery (suggested deadline is Monday or Tuesday of next week). You can choose any selection of goodies you’d like. And you can enjoy them with the peace of mind that they were made without cruelty to animals.
To enter the giveaway, you can do any one of the six things below. Each counts as a separate entry, so please comment for each thing you do! You can enter in as many or as few ways you’d like.
- Browse the Allison’s Gourmet website and tell me what you want to order most.
- Tweet about this giveaway with a link (for example, enjoy some of @allisonsgourmet premium vegan treats with this giveaway from @choosingraw ! http://bit.ly/st6Ob9 )
- Like Allison’s Gourmet on Facebook.
- Follow Allison’s Gourmet on Twitter.
- Mention this giveaway in a blog post.
- Follow Choosing Raw on Twitter.
I’ll announce a winner this Friday. US residents only, por favor. Ready, set, go!
(And please, wish me luck on my Orgo final tomorrow. I’m gonna need it.)