Over Ten Percent of a Village in Newfoundland, Canada is turning Vegan

Two Local Doctors who moved to Burin in 2011 are the Inspiration for this Dietary Change

Significant percentages of entire villages do not normally turn vegan almost overnight, but this is what has just happened to Burin, Newfoundland. About three hundred people have been inspired to change their diets to a plant-based diet for health reasons after a series of Gift of Health workshops were held by a husband and wife team of doctors who moved into the small town in 2011.  

Figures from 2016 show the population of Burin to be 2,315 so a figure of 300 vegans is around 13% of the village. That’s quite an achievement and it’s all down to Dr Arjun Rayapudi and Dr Shobha Rayapudi.

The husband and wife team became concerned about the level of diet and lifestyle-related diseases that they were witnessing there. Their medical practice was overrun with patients who had serious health conditions, and the province was proven to have some of the highest levels of conditions like heart disease, obesity and diabetes throughout Canada. 

Rural Newfoundland would at first glance appear to be an unlikely location for a large number of residents where moose, salt beef and cod dishes have been the tradition. But the Rayapudis took the local cuisine and essentially “plantified” it. They believed that if they could show their patients how to eat familiar foods, then this would enormously help in their aim to reduce animal product consumption. 

Health Care System or a Sickness Care Model?

In an interview with White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio in Canada. Dr Shobha Rayapudi, an epidemiologist, expressed her frustration that the so-called health care system was, in reality, a “sickness care model” with no effort being put into preventative health care. 

After seeing so many patients in their practice suffering from preventative diseases, the medical duo gave a three-day workshop to teach the link between diet and disease. 

Even with all the technologically advanced techniques available, such as heart bypass surgery “still we can’t even get close to what plant-based medicine can do for chronic diseases” said Dr Arjun, a general surgeon as well as a “plant-based community nutritionist”.

One particular study that the doctors found very persuasive was a study by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn that showed about a “99% per cent several of heart disease” when people changed to a plant diet. 

Giant strides are being made in Canada in the worldwide vegan food transition. The Canadian government has invested in vegan protein development and the 2019 Canadian Nutritional Guidelines has shown a marked move away from dairy and emphasising plant-based foods more. 

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Jill Harris

Jill is a writer, teacher, and passionate vegan. An eclectic author, she has published four non-fiction books and five novels. She began her vegan journey in 2015. She is a graduate and former lecturer at the Open University in psychology. Contact:

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