Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights offers a wide range of vegan delights

Are you looking to take the me out of meat? If so, Sterling Heights has some unique and tasty offerings for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Meatless diets are growing across the country. Although the amount of total vegans is estimated at 2 percent nationally, the desire for meat-free products is growing with one-third of the U.S. reporting that they are seeking meat-free options. Fourteen percent of the U.S. food market is meat free. Milk substitutes annually make over $3 billion, and meat substitutes are at $1.9 billion as of 2022.

With a population whose residents' heritage includes Lebanese, Chaldean, Macedonian, and Polish roots, Sterling Heights boasts a rich and diverse culture – and that's reflected in the city's restaurant scene. The city has also become a prime spot for vegan dining; there is something for everyone in Sterling Heights.

Whether it be for reasons of Lent, health, or a bit of adventure, below are some of Sterling Heights’ best options for a full day of vegan meals.

Street SweetsStreet Sweets is located at 2237 18 Mile Rd. in Sterling Heights.

No longer do vegans only have to have coffee for breakfast. Street Sweets has a wonderful range of baked goods to give a sweet start to the morning.

This cozy cafe, featured in our previous article on bakeries in Sterling Heights, is nestled between Dequindre and 18 Mile roads. The location opened in 2017 and evolved from a cafe into a full bakery. With a focus on Middle Eastern-American fusion cuisine, Street Sweets has enough variety to satiate any vegan's sweet tooth. From cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, ice cream, brownies, tarts, and even baklava, there is always something new to try.

Street Sweets has enough variety to satiate any vegan's sweet tooth.

The store has a dedicated baker for their vegan treats and follows a strict definition of what constitutes being vegan, a practice that distinguishes itself from vegetarianism by eschewing all animal products – that includes milk, cheese, and otherwise.

For the last three years, Maria Kattula has been baking up various vegan creations for Street Sweets. A vegetarian herself, Kattula says her becoming a vegan baker was very organic.

"My oldest son has been on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for over 10 years. My daughter is also a vegan. As I was making more stuff at home, I just decided to bring them here and try them out.”
Kattula keeps her focus on serving delicious and ethical food. Things like honey and confectioners' glaze aren't used in any of the Street Sweets vegan baked goods. She even avoids using palm oil and non-organic sugar, which is commonly processed with bone char. 

All vegan options are clearly marked on their display. The bakers and clerks have been trained on all the ingredients and they are available to answer any questions. 

Maria Kattula, vegan baker at Street Sweets.

Special or large orders are available within 48 hours notice. Kattula enjoys experimenting and welcomes special requests. Her next venture is a vegan donut. 

However, a note of caution. The location does serve nuts and non-vegan goods. This means it cannot completely prevent cross-contamination. Some of the products can come into contact with allergens. They do have preventative measures but would like those with serious allergies to be aware. 

Kattula says she loves the community and it brings her so much joy to offer options to everyone. "I usually get a lot of requests from parents for cakes or parties because of allergies or special diets. It means so much to me when I get a call back from them and they are just so happy that their kid could have a cake for their birthday. That means the world to me."

Chickpea KitchenChickpea Kitchen is located at 39525 Mound Rd. in Sterling Heights.

When hunger hits at lunch time, you can grab a quick bowl from Chickpea Kitchen. Started in 2013 by Faris Jarbo, this eatery provides fresh and colorful meals all day. 

Mixing Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, Chickpea Kitchen offers customizable bowls, soups, pitas, and salads.

Customers are given full control over how they want to make their meal. With three different types of grains, various protein choices including falafel, four freshly made hummus flavors including lentil, over 12 veggie options, and seven sauces, the restaurant offers a staggering amount of combinations.  

Jarbo says Chickpea's philosophy is to offer simple, healthy choices. 

"We didn't start out as a vegan-centered restaurant. Our goal was just to offer healthy food to everyone. But we saw that there was this growing demand, so we decided to meet our customers' needs by removing oils and using the best ingredients."

Mixing Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, Chickpea Kitchen offers customizable bowls, soups, pitas, and salads.

Chickpea does serve meat, so even non-vegans can come along for a bite. All the meat is cooked separately and you can clearly see the process as they make your bowl. Jarbo says he designed the line to prevent as much cross-contamination as possible.

"We're not looking to drop cheese in anyone's food," he says.

The lack of oils and processed ingredients provides a fresh and full flavor. Word of mouth lured Martha Meija from Pontiac to try a bowl.

"You can taste the difference," she says. "You don't feel heavy after you eat it and there’s so much flavor in all of it."

When asked if she would return to try Chickpea Kitchen again, Meija smiles with a mouth full of veggies and nods. 

After 10 years of serving the community Jarbo says he knows the importance of choice. His goal has always been to provide healthy alternatives to the citizens of Sterling Heights, one bowl at a time.

Ike's RestaurantIke’s Restaurant is located at 38550 Van Dyke Ave. in Sterling Heights.

Once night falls, how about relaxing into a nice booth at Ike's Restaurant? Owned by Ike El-Alam, Ike's kitchen has been family-run and serving the community for over 30 years. 

Ike's serves a Lebanese- and Mediterranean-focused menu with a few American staples. The more formal atmosphere makes Ike's a great place for family gatherings or larger events.

Ike's offers a wide selection of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes. Signature plates include falafel, vegetarian grape leaves, mjadra, hommus, tabbouleh, fattoush, and Greek spinach pie. Vegans will also be happy to know that most of the offerings are dairy-free and just about all of them can be adjusted, without cost, to meet a vegan's diet.

Ike's offers a wide selection of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes.

The menu online clearly displays the ingredients of every dish and marks vegan ones with a "VG". The menu in the restaurant is more in depth, including a vegan section with full visuals and a list of ingredients.  

They also offer catering and have various options for hosting large parties.

Stephanie Casinelli, manager of operations at Ike's Restaurant, says introducing vegan items to the menu was easy.

"Coming from a Middle Eastern background, most of our food already had meatless options. Over the years, we just made our labeling simpler.”

Stephanie Casinelli, manager of operations at Ike's Restaurant.

Casinelli says that the availability of local vegan options shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. There's something for everyone in Sterling Heights.

“We want people to know that they don't have to travel," she says. "We have great vegan options right here."

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.