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How Going Vegan Changed My Life

Rebecca Gilbert is founder of Yummy Plants, an online community dedicated to sharing recipes, vegan-friendly restaurants, nutritional information and practical tips on how to live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

Are you suffering from chronic joint pain? Are you tired of living on Ibuprofen? Read my story… I healed my chronic joint pain by switching to a vegan diet.

I am so grateful to be able to skate and dance again that I created the Yummy Plants online community to help others who want to transition to a vegan diet. I hope it can work for you too!

It’s amazing how changing my diet changed my life. By shifting to a plant-based diet, my body actually healed!

I had my first experience with a plant-based diet back in 1998 many years before being a vegetarian or vegan was as common as it is today. I was willing to give up meat, eggs and dairy because I wanted to recover from an injury that had occurred while I was in college. I believed that changing my food choices could result in less joint pain.

During my teenage years, I had been a very serious competitive ice skater. I was able to do the exciting jumps and spins professional skaters do on TV. (Yes, it really is that cool to fly through the air!) However, when I was in college, I had a bad knee injury that left me unable to walk very well, let alone skate.

I was searching for a resolution to the chronic pain in my knee and explored all the solutions that Western medicine had to offer. I tried surgery, physical therapy, cortisone, electrical stimulation… everything. Unfortunately, nothing worked.

As time passed without improvement, I felt myself getting desperate and hopeless. One day I happened to read about a Scandinavian medical study which showed that people who switched to a vegan diet improved their movement and decreased their pain. The group that ate a vegan diet for six months reported a significant decrease in arthritic pain. It was so long ago now that the details are fuzzy. However, I do remember that to duplicate the conditions of the Scandinavian study, I needed to be 100-percent vegan for six months. I didn’t know if it would work for me, but I really wanted to skate again so I was willing to try.

With a vision of twirling once again on a glassy sheet of ice, I gave up my bacon cheeseburgers and experimented with rice cheese and soy milk and non-dairy yogurts.

It was a challenge for sure, but I noticed less pain within a few weeks! As I navigated new ways of cooking and learned to make yummy meals with unfamiliar ingredients, I realized I could walk and handle stairs much more easily. After about a month I began to get back on the ice.

Although I was feeling significantly better, I did stay on a vegan diet for the entire six months, becoming more encouraged each day as I continued to be more active. At the end of my six months, I was amazed that I could not only easily handle stairs and high heels but I could also skate and dance normally again… pain-free! It was an absolute miracle. I honestly thought I would never skate again for the rest of my life.

As part of the experiment, I decided to slowly reintroduce animal-based foods into my diet, just to see what would happen. I realized that I could handle small amounts of eggs and dairy and still be pain-free, but I couldn’t eat chicken, fish or beef without having the joint pain return. Like many people who are struggling with health issues, I decided that being healthy and pain-free was the most important thing in my life and I gave up all meat, chicken and fish.

I lived on an entirely vegetarian diet for about 10 years. But in 2008, when the joint pain returned, I switched back to a vegan diet. I am glad to report that I have been happy and healthy on a plant-based diet ever since!

It’s been a wild ride and I am so incredibly grateful that I stumbled upon this Scandinavian study. Switching to a vegan diet has absolutely changed my life. Since I’m not a physician, I don’t know exactly why switching to a vegan diet helped eliminate my joint pain, but I absolutely know it worked!

If you have chronic joint pain, try a plant-based diet. Worst case scenario: nothing changes. Best case scenario: you can move around again, pain-free.

You can see the plant-based diet miracle results for yourself in these two short videos made soon after I got back onto the ice. I went from hardly being able to walk to skating again. I am so profoundly grateful that I could return to the sport of my childhood dreams. I absolutely hope a vegan diet works for you too!

September 8th, 2011