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Tips on Vegetarian Eating and Diabetes

What is a vegetarian?

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, fish, or poultry or any product that contains these foods. They eat whole grains, legumes (pulses), nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with or without the use of dairy products and eggs. There are actually different types of vegetarians:

  • Semi-vegetarian: Does not eat red meats, but occasionally eats fish or poultry and dairy products. Semi-vegetarians are often people who are making a change to a vegetarian diet.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Eats milk, dairy products and eggs but not meat, fish or poultry.
  • Lacto-vegetarian: Eats milk and other dairy products but not meat, fish, poultry or eggs.
  • Pescetarian: Eats a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and includes fish. They may or may not eat eggs and dairy products.
  • Vegan: Does not eat any animal products (meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy foods). A vegan eats only plant-based foods.

What are the health benefits of a vegetarian diet?

There are many reasons why people choose to follow a vegetarian diet, including financial reasons, ethical concerns and religious beliefs. Some people choose to become vegetarian for health reasons, as well. A vegetarian diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity. kidney disease, and cancer.

Can people with diabetes follow a vegetarian diet?

Yes. Vegetarian diet tends to be higher in carbohydrate and lower in protein than meat-based diets, so blood glucose levels may be affected. As a result, your healthcare provider may need to change the amount or type of your diabetes medication. Anyone interested in becoming a vegetarian, including people with diabetes, should work with a dietitian to make sure their nutritional needs are met.


Page last updated: November 07, 2019