Kidney Diet Tips

Vegetarian Diets for Chronic Kidney Disease

World Vegetarian Day (Oct 1), Vegetarian Awareness Month throughout October, and Meatless Mondays are among some of the activities drawing more attention to vegetarian eating.  What used to be a strange way of eating to the majority of Americans is now becoming popular and embraced by those seeking to improve health, save animals and protect the environment.

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) a vegetarian diet may help  protect your kidneys and delay progression to end stage kidney disease (ESRD).

Benefits of vegetarian diets include:

  • Lower protein intake, resulting in less kidney stress and decreased protein waste build-up 
  • Lower blood pressure, which reduces pressure in the kidneys
  • Decreased cholesterol, especially LDL, the cholesterol that contributes to artery narrowing, including the renal arteries
  • Better heart health with less risk of plaque build-up
  • Lower cancer risk related to less saturated fat and eating more grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Lower food costs (have you seen the price of steak or roast lately?)

If you decide to try a vegetarian eating plan but are unsure where to start, try adding meatless meals several times a week. Read articles such as The Vegetarian Diet and Chronic Kidney Disease written for by DaVita renal dietitian Chhaya Patel or Soy Foods: Vegetarian Options for a Kidney Diet. Check out resources such as Vegetarian Diets in Chronic Kidney Disease  from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Vegetaian Practice Group.

Find recipes online, purchase a vegetarian cookbook (for quick and easy recipes try Meatless Meals for Working People ), or subscribe to a vegetarian magazine such as my favorite, Vegetarian Times.  Many recipes can be modified for a kidney diet. There are a few vegetarian books specific for kidney disease such as The Vegetarian Diet for Kidney Disease  by Joan Brookhyser Hogan, RD.

Many of these resources provide information on protein, potassium, phosphorus and sodium–all concerns for a kidney diet. Even for people on dialysis it is possible to incorporate meatless meals or even a vegetarian diet with guidance from your renal dietitian.

In addition to saving kidney function,  you may find that a vegetarian diet also helps with your energy level– and that improves your quality of life!

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

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.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.