More plants. Less meat. Less diabetes.

In honor of American Diabetes Month, we’re highlighting how a diet with less meat and more plants can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately one in three American adults has prediabetes — a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes — and of that population, 90% don’t know they have the disease.

But in most cases type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes like more exercise, a healthier diet and weight loss. One of the most important dietary changes is to reduce meat and increase consumption of plant-based foods, like nuts, whole grains and greens.

We partnered with experts from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future to create a new series of social media graphics that promote the benefits of plant-based options in reducing diabetes risk along with a new hashtag: #DontLetDietBeatUs to help people make the connection between diet and diabetes.

Dietary Advice and Recipes to Help Reduce the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

There are many dietary options that have been scientifically shown to reduce diabetes risk and help with weight loss that can be found on the ADA website.  ADA also offers a vegetarian cookbook with recipe inspiration here. And you can also access the Meatless Monday recipe database to get even more suggestions for making delicious, plant-based meals.

Tips for reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Substitute meat with a plant-based protein, such as beans, lentils or tofu.
  • Eat smaller portions of meat and add more vegetables to your plate.
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods, like beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Substitute whole grains for refined grains. Look for whole wheat, whole grain or oats on the ingredient list.
  • Eat more nuts, nut butters and seeds.
  • Limit added sugar.
  • Avoid processed meat such as sausages, bologna, hot dogs, cured and smoked meats. Processed meat is associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.*
  • Introduce healthy lifestyle habits to help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be active every day.
  • Overall, substituting more plant-based foods for meat is more likely to result in a healthier body weight. According to the CDC, a 5% to 7% of weight loss can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Think you or a loved one may be at risk? Take (or share) the 60-second American Diabetes Association (ADA) type 2 diabetes risk assessment quiz and find out.

* Micha, R., Wallace, S. K., & Mozaffarian, D. (2010). Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus. Circulation, 121(21), 2271-2283.

Get More Diabetes Prevention Resources

Our diabetes prevention program has a variety of resources designed to help people at risk for type 2 diabetes manage or prevent the disease through a combination of healthy eating, exercise, and stress management.

Download our free social media graphics from this page and start spreading the word about making Meatless Monday part of your routine to help reduce your risk of diabetes. Tag @MeatlessMonday and include #DontLetDietBeatUs #MeatlessMonday with your diabetes-related posts.