What's it like to be a vegan family in Sudbury? Researchers hope to find out

Researchers are trying to find out what it's like to grow up as a vegan in northern Ontario. Laurentian University and Public Health Sudbury and District have teamed up to study children on a vegan diet.

Results of study expected by this fall

Researchers from Laurentian University and Public Health Sudbury are studying what it's like to raise a family on a vegan diet in northern Ontario. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Researchers are trying to find out what it's like to grow up as a vegan in northern Ontario.

Laurentian University and Public Health Sudbury and Districts have teamed up to study children who live on a plant-based diet in the Sudbury area. 

"We know very little about the ease and desirability of making those healthy vegan choices," says dietitan and public health nutritionist Claire Bowley.

Diana Urajnik, a professor at Laurentian University and a researcher with the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research, says the goal is to learn more about the challenges vegan families face. 

"Stigma around their lifestyle or social isolation from those in their social networks who have different eating patterns or preferences or they may have negative experiences in the community including with health care professionals who might not be knowledgeable enough about veganism to feel comfortable in promoting it as a healthy lifestyle," she says.

Claire Bowley from Public Health Sudbury and District and Laurentian University professor Diana Urjanik are leading a study of veganism in the Sudbury area. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Urajnik says the study could change how public health officials promote and educate people about veganism. She says that could include having staff in schools making sure vegan kids aren't left out on pizza days or during hot dog barbecues. 

Bowley says a wide variety of families are taking part in the study, coming from different backgrounds and different reasons for taking on a plant-based diet.

"It's not that the parents are forcing their children to eat a certain way, but they're saying, these are the food choices that we as a family are making," she says.

"They're really bringing in their social and cultural values into their food choices and sometimes that might be forgotten."

Researchers will be interviewing vegan parents and children in Sudbury for the next few months.

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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