Can I follow a vegan diet if I have diabetes?

Shari Portnoy
Nutrition & Dietetics
Of course!!! Vegans have lower risk of heart disease and many cancers. If you avoid animal products, you avoid saturated fat and excess calories. Diabetes has to be regulated by the amount of food you eat. Kudos to anyone who adapts a healthier lifestyle, and decreases saturated fat and cholesterol. There is a great book by Dr. Barnard about reversing diabetes with a vegan diet.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

Yes, you can follow a vegan diet if you have diabetes. A registered dietitian specializing in diabetes and vegetarian diets would be a valuable resource. Also, Dr. Neal Barnard and the PCRM have a lot of resources available on vegan diets and diabetes. The key is to ensure that you are meeting all of your nutritional needs without spiking your blood sugar with too many carbs at one time.

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Absolutely. It is important that you consume foods from all the food groups to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need. Vegan meal plans exclude animal based protein foods so you will need to find other sources of plant based proteins. Some plant based proteins include soy and soy products ( soy milk, tempeh, tofu, edamamme and soynuts), seitan, beans, nuts, seeds and some whole grains like quinoa. You may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement because this vitamin is found in animal products. You may also need to take a vitamin D supplement because the higher food sources of vitamin D are in milk, fortified yogurt, and fish. Make sure you count the carbohydrate sources consumed on a vegan diet just as you would for any diet.

Those who follow a vegan diet do not eat any meat or foods made with meat products. People with diabetes can choose to follow this type of vegetarian diet too. The vegan diet includes a variety of plant-based foods. Eating soy products and a mix of vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains provide plenty of protein and other important nutrients. The main nutrient of concern for this group is vitamin B12, so taking a supplement or multi-vitamin is usually necessary.

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