Kidney Diet Tips

Embracing More Plant-Based, Kidney-Friendly Foods

Are you interested in learning more about plant-based foods and recipes? You came to the right place! Research has linked a plant-based diet to a lower risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1 Plant-based diets are linked to slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) related to improvements in blood pressure, reduced acid load and improved phosphorus control.2 In addition to plant protein, a more plant-based diet also contributes vitamins C and A, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and calcium.

Read on to learn about the many potential health benefits to a plant-based kidney diet.


A plant-based diet has been linked to a lower risk for obesity. One research study published in Diabetes Care3 found that people who ate a diet including meat protein had an average body mass index (BMI) close to the obese category at 28.8. Vegetarians’ average BMI was 25.7 which is considered slightly overweight and vegans were the only dietary group found to be in the ideal body weight category with an average BMI of 23.6. This research indicates that consuming more of a plant-based diet could potentially have a positive impact on your weight.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

A review of clinical studies found that that in addition to weight loss, individuals who consumed a plant-based diet experienced improved blood sugar control and a reduction in cardiovascular disease in contrast to those consuming a meat-based diet. The plant-based diet showed a significant drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol. A plant-based diet was also shown to reduce the risk of the top killer of people with diabetes, heart disease. 1

Transition Strategies

Transitioning to a more plant-based diet does not have to cost more money. There are many budget-friendly tips to help you get started. Soy crumbles are a healthful substitute for ground meat and is often on sale, sometimes offering two for the price of one package. The price is less than a pound of ground beef and the health benefits include lower saturated fat, cholesterol and calories. There are even more meat-like plant-based products available, from premade burgers to “chicken” nuggets. However, sodium content of some plant-based meat replacements is higher than the meat it replaces. To compensate, use lower sodium cooking ingredients and condiments. Talk to your dietitian about the best choices for your individual needs.

Shopping for fresh, in-season vegetables also keeps grocery costs down, as does picking up frozen vegetables when they are on sale.

Plant-Based Recipes

In advance of grocery shopping review some delicious recipes on, such as Vegetable Paella, Veggie Crumbles Pita Pizza and Spaghetti-Basil Frittata to help build your list. The Today’s Kidney Diet Veggie Lovers cookbook also contains great vegetarian recipes to get you started. When using meat substitutes in your own recipes, remember that some processed foods are high in sodium and may contain phosphate additives. Read and compare labels on products to ensure they fit with your dietary needs.   

Eating a more plant-based diet is a healthy goal that will take time. First, try to incorporate a plant-based protein entrée a couple of times a week. After a few months, add another evening plant-based meal and continue adding more plant-based meals from there.

In my family’s experience, this method helped reduce resistance and created a surprising acceptance of the new plant-based recipes as a healthy diet change.


  1. Kahleova H, Matoulek M, Malinska H, et al. Vegetarian diet improves insulin resistance and oxidative stress markers more than conventional diet in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2011; 28(5):549-49. Available from:
  2. Shivam J, Sanjeev S, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Adequacy of Plant-based proteins in chronic kidney disease. J Ren Nutri 2019; 29(2): 112-117
  3. Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, Fraser GE. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(5):791-6. Available from.
  4. Liu, ZM, Ho SC, Chen YM, Tang N, Woo J. Effect of whole soy and purified isoflavone daidzein on renal function-a 6 month randomized controlled trial in equo-producing postmenopausal women with prehypertension. Clin Biochem: 2014; 47(13-14):1250-6. Available from

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Kidney-Friendly recipes

Today’s Kidney Diet cookbooks

Diet and Nutrition articles

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Lori Steinmeyer MS, RD, LDN

Lori Steinmeyer MS, RD, LDN

Lori has been a registered dietitian with DaVita for more than 12 years and currently she is working in Tampa, Florida. She loves educating and motivating individuals to improve their health with healthy diet and lifestyle changes. She also has a passion for writing about nutrition and health. Lori has co-authored several books, as well as, published many articles on nutrition. In her free time Lori loves to garden, hike and cook new recipes with garden fresh vegetables.