Treating Osteoarthritis Pain With A Vegan Diet

A tad stringy but overall worth the symptom relief!

DISCLAIMER The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always work with your physician or qualified healthcare provider before making major diet changes. 

It’s been quite the journey with me, my family and nutrition this past year. As you may or may not know I (mostly) dropped dairy 2 summers ago with the hope of alleviating the slew of symptoms that had amassed over the previous 2 years. Since that time I’ve totally removed all animal products from my diet, and FINALLY gotten rid of not only my osteoarthritis pain, but also those final nagging symptoms – particularly the burgeoning cast of miseries starring in the IBS show. I’m more restricted than ever because I learned that corn and gluten were also causing me grief. Oh the joy! BUT it’s sooo much better to know what is making you double over in pain than worry about what you’re missing on the menu. The prospect of spending an entire night in the bathroom just because you deserve to eat bread is a violently lopsided trade at this point. So in a nutshell I’m vegan. Yes, I used to thrive on a bodybuilder diet loaded with animal protein – chicken breast, ground turkey, tuna, eggs and loads and LOADS of whey protein. I will admit that I was really worried about strength and how my muscles would handle it. Compound the fact that I bought heavily into the possibility that I might actually die eating this new way and you’ll understand my many sleepless nights and the length of time it took me to convert.

Points dropped after my latest blood test this past Sept.

You may have a million questions because I know I did. Where do you get your protein? Where do you get your calcium? What about iron? Vitamin D? The list goes on, but suffice it to say there is a plethora of information available to you, kind reader, if you’d like to become enlightened. I don’t jump into ANY nutrition protocol without evidence and lots of data. I’ll have you know that my personal Dr. approves of my vegan diet and is even envious that I can go without cheese. Turns out she’s actually a vegetarian. It’s amazing what the medical professionals will divulge if you actually dare to ask them.  And furthermore, because this diet works so well for me, I’ve decided to become certified in plant-based nutrition. I feel very boojee telling you that it’s through Cornell University – likely the closest to Ivy League as I’ll ever get.

After her dentist appt where they said her teeth were so clean they skipped the fluoride treatment

So that’s pretty much the new news for me since this latest phase began in April of 2018, and we’re still going strong 7 months later. I say we because the (not so small) person has been vegetarian for over a year and recently my Lobster (if you don’t get this reference you need to go watch Friends right NOW) decided to join me in this quest to end his own issues with arthritis pain. I was kind of floored, but once I told him about what I’d learned through researching whole food plant based diets, he was ready to give it a try. There were no downshifts like I had. He went cold turkey (pun intended) with pretty awesome success. Below is the experience he’s had in his own words. One fact I’d like to point out before we get to his story is that my rheumatologist and his GP pretty much left us feeling hopeless about this degenerative joint disease. They’d said it was hereditary and that it was just ‘wear and tear’ arthritis; basically an inevitable disease that we were destined to become victims of. They never mentioned the inflammatory component of osteoarthritis, and that’s where the magic can absolutely happen with diet!


The key thing for me was the arthritis.  More specifically, it was slowly increasing in intensity and slowly spreading.  First just the right knee, then the right big toe, then all right toes, and then both hands.  Pain went from occasional mild day-to-day/high after soccer games to constant day-to-day/very high during and after soccer games. It was starting to suck just walking.

The change in my diet has reduced the intensity by ~90% and completely stopped and even reversed the spreading.  I no longer have it in my hands and a couple of toes, leaving just two right toes and the right knee.  Before a soccer game, I had to take 3x to 4x the recommended dosage of Ibuprofen to get through a game.  It still hurt a lot during the game, and the first step out of bed the next day was a doozy. It took about 4 days to get back to baseline.  Now I take zero Ibuprofen pre-game, have mild pain post-game, and 0.5 days for recovery.  For me, it took only about 10 days see these benefits (yes, only 10 days)!

Isn’t he the cutest?

I was expecting arthritis from my 5,000+ soccer games and many resulting injuries, but not this much and so soon (I’m 55).  The thing is, you don’t have to accept this.

Additional benefits:

  1. I’ve lost about 5 pounds (mostly around the waist). But more importantly, it’s much easier to maintain the weight.
  2. Total cholesterol went from about 165 to 133 (~20% reduction; I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me)

*Note that my diet was not that bad in the first place. I already was slim at 153 pounds, and I have always exercised a lot.

I did this cold turkey as per above. Just walking was starting to suck where I expected the downward spiraling arthritis trend to continue as I aged.  I have no regrets.  I do miss dairy sweets (cookies/cakes/chocolate candy, etc), but I’m lucky that I can cheat with minimal impact.  I expect that will not always be the case.

The main thing that was a bit different at first was finding new items to eat, taking more time at the grocery store, finding new restaurants, asking for vegan meals at restaurants even if not on the menu, etc.  But this is a small price to pay to remove pain with every step.


Do you have arthritis? If so has a Dr. ever suggested your diet might help your symptoms? If you’d like more information on treating osteoarthritis pain (and a veritable host of other diseases) with nutrition see the links below. I owe my new-found health and resulting freedom to the doctors and researchers who have been beating the drum around plant-based nutrition for decades now. I am eternally grateful for all the information and data they have spent hours collecting, interpreting and reporting for us laypeople for FREE so we can truly understand the implications around what we put in our mouths. If you’re not already, you can continue following our journey on social via the 43fitness Facebook Page and Instagram.

The very FIRST article I ran across about 3 years ago in the hopes of finding some relief from joint pain

The very best film (on Netflix) about the plant-based lifestyle (no gruesome discussion or footage of animal cruelty)

Free video: Preventing & Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet

Vegan athletes

Best Dr. websites for evidence based information, recipes, and transition tips:

Dr. John McDougal

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. T. Colin Campbell