Plant-based Diet For Kidney Disease 

plant-based diet

plant-based diet

Updated on 4/22/2024
Martin AlvarezBy Martin Alvarez
Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide
Learn More about Martin Alvarez

What Exactly Is A Vegetarian?

A person who adheres to a specific diet and makes specified food choices, including those derived from plants, is known as a vegetarian. Vegetarians do not consume any products derived from animals, but depending on the type of vegetarian they are, they may eat other items that contain animal-based ingredients. Yet vegetarians with Kidney disease are a little different story.

The Vast Majority Of Vegetarians May Be Classified As Belonging To One Of The Following Groups:

  • Lacto-vegetarians are people who eat meals from plants and dairy products, but they don't eat eggs.
  • Eggs, dairy products, and meals derived from plants are all included in the diet of Lacto-vegetarians.
  • Pesco-vegetarians are people who consume fish in addition to foods derived from plants, dairy products, and eggs in their diet.
  • Vegans are people who only consume foods that come from plants and no products derived from animals.

You do not need to start eating meat just because you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or because you have begun dialysis just because you are a vegetarian. You will need to create a meal plan tailored to your dietary requirements in order to successfully combine your vegetarian lifestyle with a kidney diet. The following are some areas in which your dietitian might be able to assist you with your new diet:

  • Keep track of your calories to ensure you receive the proper amount.
  • When necessary, include supplements of vegetarian protein and calories from vegetarian sources.
  • Raise the number of phosphate binders in your diet, as they can be required for meals and snacks.
  • Dialysis patients needing their potassium levels regulated should be offered a dialysate with a reduced potassium concentration.
  • Take the necessary actions to your diet to make your urea clearances acceptable.
  • Give you information, resources, and recipes tailored to the renal education you can use.

Food For A Vegetarian, Kidney-friendly Diet

plant-based diet

plant-based diet

Dialysis patients have higher protein requirements than the average person, but these requirements may be met with a vegetarian diet.

Foods high in protein that are appropriate for vegetarians on a renal diet include the following:

  • Meat analogs (meat substitutes such as soy burgers, tofu, hot dogs, and deli slices).
  • Items made from soy (tofu, tempeh).
  • Beans with lentils.
  • Items made of nuts and nut butter.
  • Eggs and egg-like products were used.
  • Products made from dairy animals.
  • Grains.

The number of calories of protein and other nutrients in tofu products, soymilks, and meat substitutes might vary. Check the product labels to get the exact nutritional value of one serving of the product (such as protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, etc.). Patients unable to achieve their protein demands via consuming food alone may benefit from taking protein supplements in powder or liquid.

When Dealing With Renal Illness, The Advantages Of Following A Vegetarian Diet.

plant-based diet

plant-based diet

It has been demonstrated that sources of plant proteins can:

  • Reduce the amount of protein in the urine (proteinuria)
  • Reduce the pace at which glomerular filtration (GFR) and renal blood flow are declining.
  • When compared to proteins derived from animals, they cause less harm to the kidney tissue.
  • Reduce kidney cyst growth
  • Enhance the lipid profile in the blood, often known as blood fats

Altering the source of the protein rather than decreasing the total quantity of protein consumed could be more successful. Suppose a wide variety of plant-based meals are taken on a regular basis and appropriate levels of necessary amino acids are obtained. In that case, high-quality protein and adequate amounts of these amino acids can be obtained only from plant sources.

There is proof that diets low in meat and high in vegetables can help halt the course of renal disease without sacrificing nutritional requirements. It has been known for a long time that increased consumption of protein might potentially have detrimental effects on the kidneys of those who already have renal disease.

Vegetarians on dialysis need not be concerned about their intake of iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, or B12. Vitamin B12 and zinc ought to be included in the renal vitamin that is recommended for hemodialysis patients to take. Calcium, vitamin D, and iron administered intravenously (IV) are given to all dialysis patients who are examined consistently to determine whether or not they require these nutrients.

The Danger Of Following A Vegetarian Diet When Suffering From Renal Illness


Patients undergoing dialysis have a higher requirement for protein due to the increased bodily demands as well as the loss of protein that occurs throughout the dialysis process. People in the earliest stages of renal disease are typically advised to decrease their protein consumption. It is more difficult for vegetarians patients on dialysis to consume enough protein and keep their potassium and phosphorus levels under control without using a protein supplement. This is especially true for vegan patients on dialysis, as vegans do not consume eggs or milk products.

Prohibited Food On A Vegetarian Diet Because They Are Harmful To The Kidneys

Based on their kidney function and lab reports, vegetarians need to limit specific meals that include high quantities of salt, phosphorus, and potassium, just like other patients with chronic kidney disease.

There might be a lot of sodium in certain vegetarian dishes. Plant proteins that are generated commercially and typically undergo processing are foods with the highest salt content. It is recommended that individuals restrict their consumption of foods rich in sodium, such as meat analogs, salted almonds, miso, frozen dinners, marinated tofu products, salty snacks, and meals in a cup. This will help them lower their sodium intake.

Restriction Of Phosphate Intake For Vegetarians Diagnosed With Renal Disease

In the event that excessive potassium and phosphorus levels become a problem, individuals with CKD will need to restrict their consumption of legumes, nuts, and seeds. Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or those receiving dialysis may need to take an increased dosage of phosphate-binding medications if they consume a vegetarian diet.

Restriction Of Potassium Intake For Vegetarians Diagnosed With Renal Disease

As the principal sources of potassium, fruits and vegetables may need to be restricted for vegetarians with chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is possible to maintain lower potassium levels by favoring fruits and vegetables with a lower potassium content rather than options with a higher potassium content. Soybeans, textured vegetable protein (TVP), soy nuts, soy flour, natto (soybean paste), and wasabi are some other foods that are high in potassium that vegetarians can consume. Your renal dietician will need to modify the quantities of potassium you consume, and they will closely check your levels.

Reduced Protein Intake For Vegetarians And Vegans Who Have Renal Illnesses

Dietitians who work with vegetarian patients often worry about the quality of vegan-friendly protein sources. Dietitians in renal care often suggest a soy-based product suitable for vegetarian dialysis patients. Protein may be found in substantial amounts in meat substitutes, and check the salt amount on the labels of the food that you buy. In addition, the quality of the protein is affected by the source of the protein and the combination of different vegetable protein sources consumed throughout the day. This indicates that the only foods that need to be included in a vegetarian dialysis patient's meal plan to achieve the necessary protein needs are those from the vegetarian food categories.

Including nuts and beans in a renal diet is not recommended since they contain an excessive amount of potassium and phosphorus. Certain ones, however, are able to be incorporated into the vegetarian meal plan if careful preparation is done in conjunction with a dietician.

Below are some vegetarians and vegans with mouthwatering dishes to try. The following is a selection of vegetarian dishes that are safe for renal patients:


Burritos for breakfast

A Joyous Scrambled Egg Dish

Maple Pancakes


Eggplant Casserole

Individual Frittatas

Pasta Primavera


"An Apple a Day" Muffin

Honey-Maple Snack Mix for the Trail

Soft Pretzels


Armando's Chiles Rellenos

Pierogis stuffed with a sweet cabbage and mushroom mixture.

Vegetable Casserole Delite


Cupcakes stuffed with several types of fresh fruit.

Sorbet with Strawberries

Bread pudding is served warmly.