Diabetic Diet Vegetarian Meal Plan (With Examples)

diabetic diet vegetarian meal plan

Setting up a healthful meal plan can be challenging for anyone, even without restrictions on your diet. As a person with diabetes and a vegetarian, it can be extremely challenging balancing things out for optimal results. 

A diabetic diet vegetarian meal plan should include meals that contain the essential nutritional requirements needed for healthy living.  It must also stand by the virtues of vegetarianism while also meeting the requirements of a diabetic diet.

Thankfully, it’s not as complicated as it may seem.

Whether you want to go on a diet to lose weight or just want a lean and healthful meal plan that meets vegetarian standards, there are many vegetarian food choices that may not be the best for a person with diabetes.  It is important to follow any dietary guidelines that may have been provided to you by your healthcare provider.

In order to confront the issue of having both diabetes and vegetarianism restrictions on a meal plan, this article will examine the highest acclaimed diets for people with diabetes that meet a strict vegetarian requirement. I’ve also included a convenient table with a possible week-long meal plan that mee these requirements.

What Should A Vegetarian Diabetic Eat?

Before we jump into the meal ideas, let’s just take a moment to consider three concepts of the requirement of our meal plan:

  1. Human Nutrition Requirements
  2. Diabetic Nutrition Requirements1
  3. Vegetarian Nutrition Requirements

Human Nutrition Requirements

According to Medical News Today, the six essential nutrients that people need1 are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Protein
  • Vitamins
  • Water

All of these nutrients should be included in the meal plan. Daily recommendations for each of these will vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, and gender.

According to the World Health Organization, increasing your intake of healthful nutrients like fiber can decrease the risk of noncommunicable diseases.  Simultaneously, reducing your intake of processed foods and added sugars can also help reduce the risk of many noncommunicable diseases.2.

Diabetic Nutrition Requirements

The basic idea of the diabetic nutrition requirement is to control the blood sugar by healthful eating practices.  It includes monitoring the intake of carbohydrates and other foods that alter blood sugars.

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is best to consult your doctor and/or dietitian to ensure that your diet is appropriate.  However, the general rule is to eat high fiber foods, and healthful foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and good fats like those in nuts and avocados. 

Try to limit saturated fats (butter, lard, chicken skins), trans fats (shortening, fried foods, bakery items), and high sugar content foods, such as candy and processed juices.

When you have diabetes, you might be interested in something you might know already as the glycemic response. There are several factors that affect our body’s glycemic response.  According to The American Diabetes Association, these factors7 in food include:

  • Carbohydrate amount
  • Type of sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose)
  • Starch (amylose, amylopectin, resistant starch)
  • Cooking and processing (starch gelatinization etc.)
  • Food digestive altering components (fats, lectins, phytates, tannins, starch-protein, and starch-lipids)

Vegetarian Nutrition Requirements

The concept of vegetarianism is to avoid eating meat. However, there are varying degrees of vegetarianism, ranging from some who will accept fish in their diets (pescatarian), to those who take milk, eggs, and cheese (lacto-ovo vegetarian), to those we know as vegans who won’t take any of the above even honey.

There is no particular set rule that states that a vegetarian must adhere to any of the above strict dietary restrictions, but to make some sense of the matter, we will assume that a vegetarian simply will not eat meat and makes an attempt to adhere to an all-plant based diet save for the odd cheese or egg added into cooking.

Despite some of the chaos surrounding vegetarianism’s exact meaning, we’ll take a quick look at what the Mayo Clinic has to say on the matter.  

“There’s no single vegetarian eating plan.” States M. Regina Castro, M.D. in the Mayo Clinic article on the subject3, Dr. Castro goes on to state, “For example, some allow dairy products or eggs while others don’t allow any animal products (vegans).

The benefits of a vegetarian diet depend on the type of diet you choose and the food choices you make when following the diet.”

The Mayo Clinic3 states the benefits of a vegetarian diet to include:

  1. Promoting a healthy weight
  2. Promoting blood sugar control and insulin response
  3. Reduces the chances of cardiovascular disease

Types Of Meal Examples For Diabetic Diets and Vegetarians


  • Pear and microgreen salad.  Mix some fresh microgreens like kale, sunflower and purple basil with slices of pear, artichoke hearts and almond slices.  A nice light raspberry vinaigrette and this becomes a fantastic way to start your day.
  • Pinto gallo – A traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish consisting of rice, black beans, red peppers and a variety of spices such as garlic and turmeric.  The Ticos of Costa Rica typically lightly flavor this dish and serve it along side a garden salad and fresh papaya or pineapple.


  • Avocado and black bean tortilla wraps.  Include some diced red onion, parsley, cilantro, lime juice, cumin and poblano chile to really bring a Central American flair to lunch.
  • Barley and black bean salad.  The nutty flavor of barley pairs beautifully with cherry tomatoes, black beans and green bell peppers.  I like to include some avocado as well.


  • Baked spiced tofu, topped with lemon and capers, a side of brown rice with lentils, and a greens salad topped with a sprinkle of white balsamic vinegar. If you are allowing fish your diet, try substituting the tofu for wild salmon.
  • Mushroom and Zucchini Tostados.  Try re-fried kidney bean mash spread on the tostados with sauteed mushrooms and zucchini topped with diced red pepper and shredded lettuce.


  • Baked beans, roasted tofu, or steamed peas make great snacks.  All are high in protein, which helps stabilize blood sugar and reduces sugar cravings while delivering a steady energy supply to the body8.
  • Rice, noodles, and fried vegetables.  When I was in school, I would eat a rice and noodle product that would be fast fried in a pan and then water added to bring the noodles and rice to life.  Fast fry some cooked rice and noodles along with sweet onion, peas, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes for a filling snack.


  • Fresh berries are the best raw dessert; try them with some graham crackers and nut butter.  However, if you want to try something a little more festive, try roasting sweet potato with a touch of cinnamon for a harvest time dessert.
  • Apricot, Oat, Ginger and Coconut Crisps.  Finely chop some dried apricot and mix with ground ginger, tahini, shredded coconut, oats and a sprinkle of water.  Puree the mixture and add a tiny bit of honey (be careful not to overdo it or it could throw off your blood sugar!)  Mash into cookies, bars or balls.  Then lay them on some parchment inside a container and refrigerate.  That’s it, they are ready to eat.  A simple and tasty little treat.

Diabetic Diet Vegetarian – 7-Day Sample Meal Plan

This meal plan is intended as an example of what a single week could look like and should not be considered a long term perfect diet. 

A proper diet is varied and thus should change from week to week and from day to day within the parameters of your particular dietary preferences.

The plan includes a variety of culinary adventures around the world with different cultures represented.  The variety brings a decent balance of nutrients, and if paired with a good practice of drinking lots of water, ought to prove an effective and useful addition to a diabetic and vegetarian diet.

BreakfastGallo Pinto (Black Beans, Rice and Red Peppers)Pear and Microgreen SaladArugula, Artichoke and Pistachio SaladMelon and Almond White GazpachoSichuan Fava Bean, Radish And Onion Sprout SaladWatermelon and Mint with LimeKale, Avocado and Blueberry Salad with Mango Dressing
LunchRoasted Chick Peas and Cauliflower on Brown Rice with CurryWhole Wheat Pasta with Shitake Mushroom SauceThree Pepper and Mushroom Pizza with Whole Wheat CrustGrilled Vegetables and QuinoaBasil and Chickpea Whole Wheat FlatbreadCrispy Fried Noodles with Tofu and Peanut Sauce and Shredded CarrotPan Fried Garlic Green Beans and Asparagus with Broiled Cherry Tomatoes 
DinnerKale, Butternut Squash and Tofu Stir FryStuffed Eggplant with Almonds and CouscousBaked Spiced Tofu With Lemon And CapersGrilled Cauliflower Steaks with Cilantro and Lime VinegretteBaked and Stuffed Peppers with Mushrooms, Artichoke and LinguineBasil Pesto with Grilled VeggiesRoast Vegetable and Bean Stew with Garlic, Lentils and Cilantro
SnacksBaked BeansFried Tofu and MushroomsSteamed PeasSteamed BroccoliCarrots, Celery and Raspberry Puree DipFried Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Noodles and VeggiesAsparagus and Tomato Basil Baked Whole Wheat Pitas
DessertsFresh RaspberriesCinnamon Sweet Potato SlicesStrawberry SmoothieBaked Acorn Squash with Nutmeg and CinnamonSlow Roasted TomatoesApricot, Oat, Coconut and Ginger BallsMango Raspberry Smoothie

Here’s another set of recipes from YouTube that show seven meals.  They call it a 1-week diabetic, vegetarian meal plan, but this plan seems only to cover one meal per day, and we both know that won’t do – but it does have some great recipe ideas to get the chef in you thinking.

Quick Fact About Type 2 Diabetes, Diets, and Dieting

Did you know?  With type 2 diabetes, the top 4 diets recommended8 are:

  • Vegetarian 
  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Mediterranean

According to the Mayo Clinic4, a diabetes diet is based on:

  • Eating 3 healthful meals per day
  • Eating the meals at regular times with consistency

The diabetes diet ought to fulfill the following goals5:

  1. Improve overall health
  2. Achieve and maintain desired body weight
  3. Stabilize glycemic, blood pressure and lipid goals
  4. Delay or prevent the complications of diabetes

Quick Facts About Diets Vs. Dieting

A diet is not necessarily a meal plan to lose weight.  Many people consider the term to solely render the impression that one is eating ‘light’ to lose weight when, it may also mean a simple controlled meal plan.

A number of diets all share one specific similarity: the concept is to achieve a goal through a controlled and selective choice of foods.  There are numerous amount of diets, but Wikipedia breaks them down into seven basic types:

  1. Belief based diets
  2. Calorie and weight control diets
  3. Crash diets
  4. Detox diets
  5. Diets for specific medical reasons
  6. Fad food diets
  7. Vegetarian diets

There’s no shortage of diets, and there’s no shortage of recipes.  Which recipes for people with diabetes do you like the most?

Final Word On Diabetic Diet Vegetarian Meal Plans

We’ve covered the basics of what you need to look out for with your meal plan. A registered dietitian is your next step to individually customize more details specific to you. Remember that it is important to receive the right nutrients, and in the right amounts and portions6, in order to obtain the best possible results.

Always consult a medical provider before making any radical changes to your diet.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326132#:~:text=Macronutrients%20include%20water%2C%20protein%2C%20carbohydrates,fats%2C%20water%2C%20and%20carbohydrates.
  2. https://www.who.int/elena/nutrient/en/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20058117
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-diet/art-20044295
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
  6. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
  7. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/suppl_1/s36
  8. https://www.medicinenet.com/diabetic_diet_for_type_2_diabetes/article.htm
  9. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diabetic-friendly-diets-to-lose-weight
  10. https://www.verywellhealth.com/vegetarian-diet-and-type-2-diabetes-1087535
  11. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/veganism-for-people-who-have-diabetes
  12. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/want-go-vegetarian-diabetes/
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diets

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