Vegetarian and vegan diets offer significant benefits for diabetes management. In observational studies, individuals following vegetarian diets are about half as likely to develop diabetes, compared with non-vegetarians. In clinical trials in individuals with type 2 diabetes, low-fat vegan diets improve glycemic control to a greater extent than conventional diabetes diets. Although this effect is primarily attributable to greater weight loss, evidence also suggests that reduced intake of saturated fats and high-glycemic-index foods, increased intake of dietary fiber and vegetable protein, reduced intramyocellular lipid concentrations, and decreased iron stores mediate the influence of plant-based diets on glycemia. Vegetarian and vegan diets also improve plasma lipid concentrations and have been shown to reverse atherosclerosis progression. In clinical studies, the reported acceptability of vegetarian and vegan diets is comparable to other therapeutic regimens. The presently available literature indicates that vegetarian and vegan diets present potential advantages for the management of type 2 diabetes.