What are some healthy meals for vegetarians with diabetes?

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

A healthy vegetarian meal for people with diabetes follows the same rules as one that is not vegetarian.  The key difference is in calculating the carbohydrates appropriately.

A healthy veg meal would include whole grains, lean protein, lots of non-starchy veggies and some heart-healthy fat.  Use the USDA plate icon as a visual cue and simply substitute the protein option with a vegetarian protein choice.  A few examples:

  • A vegetarian sandwich with a small apple
  • Stir-fry vegetables+Tofu with brown rice
  • Bowl of vegetarian chili and salad
  • Bean burrito and salad

The following are healthy meal ideas for vegetarians:
  • Grilled vegetable sandwich -- Slice mushrooms, onions, artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini, and/or yellow squash and cook in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then put vegetables between two slices of whole wheat or rye bread.
  • Vegetarian chili -- Make with lots of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and different types of beans. You can also add meat substitutes like "beef" crumbles or sweet potatoes to bulk up your chili. Try topping with some low-fat shredded cheese. If you use broth, it needs to be vegetable broth, not chicken or beef broth!
  • Vegetarian fajitas -- Fill a whole-wheat or corn tortilla with sautéed onions and peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and salsa. Add a side of brown rice and beans too!
  • Whole wheat pasta with marinara -- Add cooked vegetables to your marinara sauce or have them as a side dish. You can also add soy crumbles or a meat substitute like beef crumbles to your sauce.
  • Stir-fry -- Load this dish with sautéed vegetables and tofu and serve over brown rice. Some good stir-frying vegetables are broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, onions, and red bell peppers. Try to cook in a small amount of oil and don't add too much sauce!
  • Green spinach and/or romaine salad -- Pack your salad with different vegetables, dried or fresh fruits, beans, some chopped nuts or seeds, and a few croutons. Use low-fat dressing and eat with a small whole grain roll on the side. Don't be afraid to get creative! (If you follow a lacto- or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, try adding hard-boiled eggs or low-fat cheese when making salads.)
  • Soup and Salad -- Pair black bean, lentil, or vegetable soup with a fresh green salad. See above for salad ideas.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.