HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Nearly 74 percent of North Alabamians have to choose between getting their prescriptions filled and buying healthy food. 70 percent report having high blood pressure.
A local chef says her goal is to bring healthier and more affordable food options to the area.
"My cholesterol was lower, I had lost weight, I wasn't dealing with allergies and joint pain," explained Adyre Mason, owner and head chef of The Veggie.
Mason said those are a few health benefits she's seen since converting to a vegan lifestyle.
Mason said her late mother inspired her to pursue her passion, cooking, catering and delivering full-time.
She wants to also see change in this community and she's starting at area farmer's markets.
"My mom, in part, her health could have benefitted from going plant-based if not totally vegan. So it just became my mission to help more people to live better by going plant-based," she added.
Mason channels soul food from all cultures in her plant-based dishes.
"Not just Southern soul food, but food that is comforting to people overall. I enjoy all types of cuisine, Mexican, Asian."
In 2018, Alabama had the most fast-food restaurants per capita than any other state in the U.S.
Healthy options are slowly trickling in and Mason said they are crucial.
"I think it's really important in any area to have good representation of all of the types of consumers there," Mason explained.
Currently, she said she's striving to make sure her meals are affordable to underserved populations in North Alabama.
"We definitely have plans to move toward some especially affordable options for seniors, and for people who are specifically looking to care for loved ones who need healthy food options," said Mason.
She says the plan isn't fully mapped just yet, but giving back will never be on the back burner.
In just a few weeks, Chef Adyre will be taking her talents and skillets down to Birmingham.
She'll be partnering with a female farmer at Graze Birmingham and serving plant-based dishes for the community to enjoy.