What does “vegan” and “vegetarian” mean?
The vegan diet is a plants-only diet that excludes all meat and any animal ingredients (such as dairy and eggs), and a vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. This plant-forward way of eating is associated with improved health outcomes and decreased risk for a variety of chronic diseases. Specifically, plant-based diets have been linked to a decreased risk for developing kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes, and decreased risk of mortality in people with chronic kidney disease.
If you have diabetes and/or kidney disease and you’re curious about how a vegan diet can fit into your lifestyle, then read on for guidance on planning vegan meals that are diabetes- and kidney-friendly.
Nutrients of Concern on a Vegan Diet for Diabetes and Kidney Disease
Plant-based protein options include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. These protein sources can be high in potassium and phosphorus. Work with your dietitian to make sure you meet your daily protein needs without exceeding your potassium and/or phosphorus limits. Limit protein foods that are highly processed and high in sodium and check the labels for phosphate and potassium additives.
Some plant-based protein options, such as beans and legumes, are higher in carbohydrates (carbs) than animal protein sources. If you have diabetes and you monitor your carbs, you may need to adjust your eating plan to accommodate the higher carb content. The good news—plant-based protein options are also often high in fiber, which can help you manage your blood glucose (blood sugar).
Recipe and Meal Planning Guidance
There are recipe guidelines that can help you plan meals and snacks that are appropriate for both diabetes and kidney disease. The guidelines for the recipe categories below have been adapted to follow a vegan diet.
Below are recipes that follow the American Diabetes Association® guidelines, adjustments for a plant-based diet. Work with your dietitian or others in your health care team to find the best eating plan for you.