Allison Rivers: Founder of Allison's Gourmet
How long have you been vegan?
Interviewed by Doh Driver
I became vegetarian in 1989, and vegan in 1997.
When was Allison's Gourmet established, and what made you decide to turn to
a career in vegan baking?
I started Allison's Cookies (now Allison's Gourmet) in 1997 because of my passion for sweets, my reverence for our planet and all of its inhabitants, and a desire to help others find scrumptious goodies made with more wholesome ingredients. In 1989, after too many experiences of unsatisfying 'treats' at health food stores, I began transforming traditional recipes for baked goods that called for butter, white sugar, and eggs into ones that don't use animal products or refined sweeteners. I had so much fun experimenting that I started sharing the abundance of my creations with my co-workers (none of whom were vegan). They enjoyed them so much that some even urged me to look into vegan baking as a career option! I suppose the rest (as they say) is history.
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It's 2003. Do you have new products or ideas for the New Year?
Exciting ideas are always up my sleeve. We've recently relaunched our
Heavenly Fudge Brownies. After actor, Alicia Silverstone, mentioned them in
her interview on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, we received so many requests that
we couldn't keep up with the demand. Because quality is my utmost concern,
I decided to put the brownies on a hiatus while I resolved some issues. We
brought them back in early January and the response has been fabulous.
We're also proud to have the first and only Vegan Cookie of the Month Club,
Gourmet Gift Plans, and the Sampler's Paradise.
Do you have any exciting long-term plans for Allison's Gourmet?
Yep, you can count on it!
What is your favorite part of your job?
There are countless aspects of my work that I enjoy. I love spending time
researching and seeking out new ingredients as well as the creative
challenge of coming up with new goodies. I also like reading feedback from
Good products sell themselves, but beyond great tasting treats, to what do
you credit your success?
Perseverance, listening to our customer's needs, impeccable customer
service, and our dedication to using only superior-quality organic
How many people does Allison's Gourmet employ?
It varies throughout the year. We hire extra people during busy gift-giving
Producing vegan, organic goodies is a gift to the Earth and its inhabitants.
Do you do other work towards this cause?
I support vegan and animal rights organizations and educate others who are
interested in learning the many benefits of a plant-based diet.
What's your best-selling cookie flavor?
Everybody loves the Deluxe Sampler's Paradise because they get to try some of
everything. People are also fond of our seasonal cookie flavors, which change
every month. Our Heavenly Fudge Brownies are very popular as well.
Do you ever get tired of eating your own creations? Which is your favorite?
No, I don't get tired of eating my creations, that's one of my perks!
Brownies are always what I reach for first. I enjoy the variety of our new seasonal
Will you ever write a cookbook?
What's the one thing you want people to know about veganism and/or Allison's
What a great question! Oftentimes, people comment that our products are
expensive. I understand why one might have this perception, but it's
important to realize that with quality organic ingredients, comes a higher
price. Cheap vegan baked goods are plentiful, but the reason they're cheap
is because their ingredients and/or processes are cheap.
For example, we use organic pecans in our products even though they are the
most expensive nuts on the market. I choose to use them because their rich
buttery flavor is unparalleled. We also use organic vanilla, which
currently costs over $200 per gallon as opposed to non-organic vanilla,
which is closer to $50 per gallon.
Another important distinction is that many companies use hydrogenated
margarine, which contains trans-fatty-acids or TFAs, which are carcinogenic.
We use organic safflower oil because it does not contain TFAs. These are
but a few of the numerous efforts I make so that Allison's Gourmet
products are beyond compare. Why? Because if it doesn't taste good and
isn't good for you (as good as desserts can be!), then why eat it?