Local businesses offer healthy alternatives on the menu

NOW: Local businesses offer healthy alternatives on the menu

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- With the start of the New Year, people might just be thinking about dieting.

The plant-based craze has swept across the country, with many major food chains offering healthier alternatives to the menu.

With local businesses throughout Michiana also offering vegan or vegetarian options, it is possible to shop local and eat healthy.

Elia’s Mediterranean Cuisine off of S Bend Ave. in South Bend is just one local business that offers healthy menu items.

Helene Elia, owner of Elia’s Mediterranean, opened the doors for business nearly 20 years ago.

The restaurant started serving vegan and vegetarian options years ago, with even about 50% of customers opting for the alternative, according to Elia.

“I’ve been seeing people, you know, having more options…asking for more options for vegetarian or vegan,” said Elia.

The plant-based craze interests many people throughout the country, especially while people consider New Year resolutions.

The customer demand for vegetarian and vegan options is high and while it can be challenging to create new menu items, it is all worth it, according to Elia.

“I have very happy customers and repeated customers that they come in just for certain items that they want on the menu,” said Elia.

Two of the items on the current menu at Elia’s Mediterranean Cuisine were even inspired by customers who requested special items for their order.

Elia decided to make “Midardara Bowl” and “Anita with Falafel” permanent items after many other customers were interested.

“And oh my goodness, it’s like top seller…they love it,” said Elia. “Even if you’re not vegan.”

Peggy Matthys, a frequent customer, has visited Elia’s for 10 years and said it is important to pay attention to what is put into her body.

“Maybe consider what’s good for you in the long run,” said Peggy Matthys. “Even though it might be better to reach for something quick, that we have businesses here that do a fantastic job of considering health and quality of food that is going to serve you not just today, but into the future as you age.”

Matthys switches up her order at Elia’s, but said that choosing those healthy alternatives makes her feel better in the long run.

“I feel like food is the most elemental thing that is pertaining to our health and our well-being,” said Matthys. “So I think that by choosing options that are vegetarian or vegan, I feel way better.”

Elia said she plans to roll out a new food menu soon with more vegan, vegetarian and meat options to meet customer demand.

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