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I Healed Chronic Joint Pain with a Vegan Diet!
I’m Rebecca Gilbert, the founder of Yummy Plants. My life profoundly changed by shifting to a plant-based diet. My body actually healed! I created the Yummy Plants community so that anyone else coming next would have support to transition to a vegan diet AND a fun place to do it! If you know anyone who is suffering from chronic joint pain, please send them this story!!
I had my first experience with a plant-based diet, or vegan diet, back in 1998. I was willing to give up meat, eggs and dairy because I had read that a vegan diet could eliminate chronic joint pain, and I believed that changing my food choices would result in less joint pain. (I am so happy to report that it did!)
I had been a very serious competitive ice skater, able to do the fancy jumps and spins you see on TV. (Yes, it really is that cool to fly through the air!) And when I was in college, I had a mysterious knee injury that left me unable to walk very well, let alone to skate. I hadn’t fallen, yet my knees were very swollen and unbelievable painful.
I tried all of the solutions that western medicine had to offer: surgery, physical therapy, cortisone, electrical stimulation… everything. It was bizarre: nothing worked.
I was searching for anything that might help me. In a random twist of fate, I stumbled upon a Scandinavian study on the internet that showed a vegan diet could heal chronic joint pain. One group ate a vegan diet for six months and reported a significant decrease in their knee pain. It was so long ago now that the details are fuzzy, but I remember that to duplicate the conditions I needed to be 100% vegan and maintain the diet for six months. I had no idea if a vegan diet would work to reduce/ eliminate the pain, but I had tried everything else, and I was devastated by the loss of my ability to skate. I was absolutely willing to try.
The next day, I gave all of my food to a neighbor and stocked my home with soy milk, rice cheese, rice, beans and veggies. At that time, I didn’t even know what vegans eat! So with a vision of twirling once again on a glassy sheet of ice, I gave up the standard American diet cold “tofurky.”
As with any new venture, the beginning was challenging… but not impossible. I navigated new ways of cooking and learned to make delicious meals with unfamiliar ingredients. And I was inspired by the daily improvement as the pain steadily lessened. I realized that I was moving around much more quickly and easily. After about a month I could handle stairs again and begin to get back on the ice!
At the end of my own self-imposed six-month experimental period, I was amazed that I could not only easily handle stairs and high heels, but that I could also skate and dance again… pain-free! It was really a miracle.
I am definitely NOT a physician. I don’t know exactly why the vegan diet helped eliminate my joint pain, but I can say that in my personal experience, it definitely worked! I have read medical evidence about casein, the protein in dairy products, causing an inflammatory response in some people. (Wheat can actually do this as well!)
If you have chronic joint pain, you may want to explore a plant-based diet and see how you feel. I hope you feel fabulous!
I have two short videos that were made after I switched to a vegan diet. It was truly a miracle that I could get back on the ice and skate again. And I am very, very grateful.
Note: I came to a vegan diet originally for the health benefits. I’ve stayed vegan all of these years as a compassionate choice. Until I stopped eating animals and participating in the big agribusiness channel of egg and dairy production, I didn’t even think about what I was eating or doing. Once I stopped eating animals for health reasons, I became passionate about not eating them for emotional reasons as well. I’m so grateful for that shift as well!