Vegan Diets and Chronic Pain


Individuals with chronic pain may benefit from consuming a vegan diet. This is especially true for those with musculoskeletal pain, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Why would a vegan diet be beneficial for chronic pain?

Certain pain conditions are highly related to inflammation in the body. While some animal-based foods contribute to inflammation, many plant-based or vegan foods actually decrease inflammation. Therefore, a vegan diet potentially lowers pain. Vegan diets are also generally high in antioxidants, which can reduce oxidative stress in the body.

How it works

Research shows that consuming a vegan diet may reduce swelling and pain in joints as well as C-reactive protein levels in the blood, which is an indication of inflammation in the body. Arthritis-related swelling and inflammation may be reduced by more than 50 percent when switching to a vegan diet.

Benefits of a vegan diet

Health benefits of consuming a vegan diet may include reaching or maintaining a healthy weight and normalizing other health indicators, such as cholesterol levels or blood pressure. It may also contribute to healthy sleep, improved mental health, reduced inflammation, and better quality of life.

Foods to eat

Vegan diets to reduce chronic pain should prioritize whole plant-based foods. Foods that are overly processed or contain added sugars, salts, and unhealthy fats should be avoided whenever possible. Examples of foods to consume include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Kale
  • Squash
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Plums
  • Apricots

Individuals should consult with a health care professional, nutritionist, or dietician in order to determine the diet that may work best for them and their pain condition.