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Walnuts Offer Tasty and Healthy Meatless Option, Says WalnutLife CEO Deborah Fleming

By Joycelyn Osborne  |  December 2022

Plant-based meats are all the rage these days for people seeking to limit their consumption of meat, and live healthier lifestyles. As an answer to the demand for tasty alternatives to eating meat, Atlanta-based business owner Deborah Fleming is offering some tasty products made from walnuts.

Fleming, the founder/CEO of WalnutLife, says her company’s product offerings are her way of addressing some of the health issues African-Americans experience and promote a healthier lifestyle, as well as an alternative option for those who love dishes that call for ground beef, like tacos and lasagna.

“Eating a plant-based diet gives people a healthier replacement for protein and walnuts are notorious for their nutrition, meatiness and are used all over the world,” says Fleming. “Additionally, walnuts have like 61 nutrients and eating a handful of walnuts a day is recommended by doctors,” said Fleming.

Fleming says she conceived of her company after seeing the major health disparities in urban communities with so many people dealing with health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and obesity, she determined to do what she could to effect some positive change.

“About 13 years ago, I began talking to people about what they were eating and teaching classes to educate communities of color on the connection between nutrition and vegetables at various popular community garden venues around metro-Atlanta,” shared Fleming. “In doing so, I was blown away to learn there were people who had never seen a whole cabbage or who thought having lettuce and tomato on a hamburger, was equivalent to eating vegetables,” Fleming. It was from those classes that our walnut-based meat replacement recipes were tested, developed and later brought to farmer’s markets around metro-Atlanta,” continued Fleming. “Soon after I created Nuts for Pate, a food artisan company, now known as WalnutLife, which was about eight years ago,” she said.

It has been noted by health experts that adding a healthy portion of walnuts to your diet can add to hair and skin health, improve heart and brain health, slow down the aging process and is recommended to assist in combatting many health ailments—including slowing down cancer, due to the substantial antioxidants and other nutrients contained in walnuts.

A former successful radio DJ, broadcaster and television anchor for an ABC affiliate, Fleming now enjoys gardening and growing garlic, tomatoes, peppers, fresh herbs and much more, all of which she uses in her WalnutLife products.

Products sold by WalnutLife include walnut pates’ that are vegan, raw and gluten free. There are currently four flavors of pates including Cumin, Tomato Basil, Cheesy Spicy and Pecan Curry Cilantro. WalnutLife also sells a protein meat alternative product called Taco Meat that has the meaty texture and flavor of seasoned ground beef used to make tacos and chili. Another alternative meat product made from WalnutLife is Walnut Sausage Crumble for sausage lovers.

Fleming’s products proved to be an award-winner and was named “Artisan of the Year” by Slow Food Atlanta in 2017. According to Fleming, the response to her products have been very positive, especially by people who identify themselves as being vegan.

“When I first started Black people were not as informed about the benefits of plant-based diets, but those numbers have increased tremendously as music icons like Jay Z and Beyonce are eating walnut taco meat,” said Fleming.

Fleming says she’s not necessarily a vegan, and is more of a pescatarian, but her primary diet is plant-based. She encourages selecting and creating dishes from plants and vegetables by the season.

“I revel in the opportunity to leverage the abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables found in each season as part of a healthy diet and highly encourage others to do so,” shared Fleming. “For example, fall crops include vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, then in winter you have root vegetables like parsnips, fennel, garlic, ginger, etc.,” she continued. “Then In the spring you have green onions, radishes, asparagus, artichokes and in the summer, there are the lovely fruits and berries, squashes, etc. All of these can be turned into wonderful seasonal plant-based dishes,” said Fleming.

WalnutLife is currently developing its wholesale business and curious plant-based connoisseurs can sample her product inside Aaron’s Gourmet Market at the New Black Wall Street in Stonecrest, GA.

“I enjoy meeting visitors from all across the country when selling at The New Black Wall Street and sharing samples of WalnutLife Taco Meat and our walnut pates,” said Fleming. “In the end, my goal through our WalnutLife products, is to promote a healthy lifestyle, which includes among other things, healthy eating, living close to mother nature, getting outside in the sunshine, being aware of the season, seeking your best nutrition daily and valuing rest and relaxation,” she said.

For more information about Deborah Fleming and WalnutLife, go to WalnutLife.co.