What is a vegetarian diet for diabetes?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Depending if you are vegan or lacto ovo vegetarian, this will determine what you will eat. Vegans eat no animal protein and your diabetes may be harder to control but it can be done. Vegetarians often eat eggs and dairy products. If you are either vegan or do consume some animal protein, you need to eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, all kinds of beans, seeds, nuts, nut butter, fresh fruit, eggs, and low fat cheese. Whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and whole grain breads and pasta are all good choices.

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

A vegetarian diet for diabetes is one that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, lentils, dairy or dairy alternatives. Multiple studies conducted by PCRM (Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine) conclude-- 

  • A whole foods vegan diet is safe for people who have type 2 diabetes and is as beneficial, if not more so, than a typical ADA diet.
  • Vegans have lower rates of type 2 diabetes than non-vegetarians 

A vegetarian diet for diabetics contains fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts, dairy products, soy products, eggs, and whole grains. A vegetarian diet for diabetes is known to help with weight loss and blood sugar control. Following a vegetarian diet for diabetes, you may be able to avoid some serious diabetes complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, blindness and other serious problems. The better control you have of your blood glucose, the better you will feel. The vegetarian diet may give you the benefit of improving blood glucose and improved overall health.

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.