Should I Go Vegetarian for PCOS? A Guide by a PCOS Dietitian

Do you struggle with hormone imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, weight issues, or infertility due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

If so, you are not alone! PCOS affects 10% of women and it can feel overwhelming trying to navigate how to best manage the symptoms. A plant-based diet has been linked to improved insulin resistance and improved overall health in women with PCOS; however, there can be a lot of confusion around this eating pattern.


Are all vegetarian diets created equal?

Should I go vegan?

Can I still eat some meat?


In this blog post, we’ll break down the key information about plant-based eating for PCOS that every woman should know so you have the confidence and comfortability needed when making nutritional decisions during your healing journey. Whether you feel motivated by health concerns, ethical considerations, or a combination of both – this blog post will provide you with the essential information needed to make an informed decision that is suitable for your lifestyle and nutritional needs as well as provide simple tips that make eating more plant-based meals easier than ever!

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is more than just a reproductive condition – it’s an all-encompassing hormonal disorder that impacts multiple bodily systems. For 6-10% of women, this can manifest with symptoms like irregular periods, acne, facial or body hair, and infertility – but the reality is up to 70% remain undiagnosed!  Learn about the 4 different types of PCOS


Stressful as these issues are on their own, they come together in complex ways: insulin resistance interacts with your metabolism while cysts appear around ovaries alongside high levels of hormones known as androgens. PCOS is a complex hormonal syndrome that can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, and difficulty losing weight. PCOS can even increase the risk of chronic diseases later in life like type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Women everywhere need to be aware so we can help each other stay healthy.


PCOS can be a difficult disorder for many women to navigate due to the wide range of symptoms it presents. Not only does it cause changes in hormone levels, leading to irregular periods and potential acne or weight gain, but when left unmanaged could also lead to insulin resistance which makes it harder to regulate their blood sugar levels and can contribute to increased cravings for high-carb or sugary foods. Making mindful nutrition choices is crucial—and possible! —for those living with PCOS as better food selection helps reduce risks associated with worsening symptoms while supporting long-term wellness goals.

Are there Benefits of Eating Plant-Based for PCOS?

Eating a plant-based vegetarian diet may offer an array of positive benefits for women with PCOS. For women with PCOS, adding more plants could provide the key to unlocking improved hormonal balance and enhanced well-being.

Vegetarian Diets can Reduce Risk of Insulin Resistance

For women with PCOS, maintaining good insulin sensitivity is crucial for overall health. And one way to make improvements is by incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet as many of the foods found in a plant based diet or vegetarian diet are also low glycemic index foods.


Studies have shown that a diet rich in plants can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while also improving insulin sensitivity. This is especially important for women with PCOS, as they are at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance. By taking this step towards a healthier lifestyle, not only will you be nourishing your body with more wholesome foods, but you may also be reducing your risk of developing serious health conditions in the future.

Vegetarian Diets can Help with Weight Management

When it comes to weight management, one approach that is gaining popularity in recent years is a plant-based diet. Compared to typical Western diets, plant-based diets tend to be lower in calories and higher in fibre, which can be a powerful tool in achieving weight loss goals. This is particularly important for those with PCOS, as weight loss has been shown to improve symptoms and reduce the risk of developing other health complications associated with the condition. Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be a daunting task, but it’s worth exploring the benefits and finding what works best for your body. It’s important to remember that weight management is a process unique to each individual, but plant-based diets offer a promising starting point for optimizing your health and well-being.

Vegetarian Diets can Help Reduce Inflammation

Living with PCOS can be a daily challenge for many women due to the various complications associated with the condition. However, transitioning to a plant-based diet may prove to be beneficial in more ways than one. One major benefit is the reduction of inflammation in the body. Chronic low-grade inflammation is often seen in those with PCOS, which can lead to further complications. By incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, you can help reduce inflammation and improve your overall health. 

Making the switch to a plant-based diet may seem daunting at first, but taking small steps towards this lifestyle change can have a significant impact on your well-being as a woman with PCOS.

Vegetarian Diets can Help Reduce Testosterone

Living with PCOS can often feel like a never-ending uphill battle when it comes to managing symptoms and maintaining overall health. As a dietitian who has helped many women with PCOS, I can attest to the frustration that comes with a journey with no one-size-fits-all solution. However, one lifestyle change that has shown significant promise for women with PCOS is incorporating more plant-based foods. A plant-based diet could help also lower androgen levels, a hormone that can contribute to unwanted symptoms like acne and excess hair growth.

Vegetarian Diets can Help with Gut Health

While there are many tactics to help manage symptoms, one important step may be switching to a plant-based diet. Not only does this type of diet provide a variety of health benefits, such as lowering inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity, but it also promotes healthy gut bacteria. Studies have shown that a healthy gut helps to balance hormones – a crucial aspect for those with PCOS. While changing your eating habits can be difficult, the benefits definitely outweigh the challenges. Plus, good gut health has been linked to decreased inflammation, better insulin sensitivity, and improved hormonal balance—all things that are critical for women with PCOS.

Are there Any Risks of Becoming a Vegetarian for PCOS?

For ladies with PCOS, a plant-based diet can be an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in the body. But it’s important to note that there may also be some drawbacks when making this dietary switch!

Nutrient Deficiencies

Women with PCOS considering a plant-based diet need to be aware of potential shortcomings in regard to inadequate nutrient intake. Iron, calcium, zinc, omega-3s, and vitamin B12 are essential for optimum health but may not easily come by through strictly plant sources such as a vegan diet – though supplementing or including fortified foods can help ensure that nutritional needs are met if needed! Iron is especially important for women with PCOS, as heavy periods and blood loss can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Plant-based sources of iron include leafy green vegetables, legumes, tofu, and fortified cereals. Download our comprehensive list of Iron rich foods for more ideas! If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, or flexitarian, your risk of nutrient deficiencies is lower.

Lower Protein Diet

Women with PCOS may need to be especially mindful of their protein intake if they choose a plant-based diet since some plant based proteins can be lower in essential amino acids or harder to eat the amount needed to meet their protein needs. Women with PCOS tend to respond well to higher protein intake to help manage insulin resistance and support feelings of satiety. While there are plenty of delicious and nutritious vegetable sources such as legumes, tofu, or tempeh that can provide adequate amounts for health benefits like weight loss and insulin resistance management, it is important not to overlook the value of these proteins in achieving your wellness goals!

Higher Carbohydrate Diet

Women with PCOS often find that including more plants in their diet helps to manage symptoms, but it’s important to keep carb consumption balanced. A focus on complex carbs – like whole grains and legumes – can help you get the most out of a plant-based lifestyle while keeping insulin resistance under control. In addition, it is recommended to limit or avoid simple carbohydrates, such as processed foods and sugary drinks (which are often plant-based), which can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. Pay attention to how much carbohydrates you eat in order to help regulate your insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.

Difficulties with Weight Loss

Women with PCOS considering a plant-based diet should be aware of the potential challenge that can come along with weight loss. A higher carbohydrate intake and managing insulin resistance are key factors to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining or losing weight while on this type of eating plan. Keep in mind that there is some nuance to this where it also depends on the number & type of carbs, protein intake, and total calories you eat that will factor into your weight loss success.  Calculate your macro needs with our Macro Calculator.  To make sure you stay on track, monitoring calorie intake alongside choosing low-glycemic index foods is essential for successful weight management.

Fertility or Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

If you are a woman living with PCOS, considering a plant-based diet may have unintended consequences for your perinatal nutrition and health. A vegetarian diet may be low in essential nutrients like choline, Vitamin B6, Vitamin  12, omega 3s, iron, and zinc – all of which play an integral role in conception success.  Learn more about a healthy prenatal diet here.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Transitioning your eating habits and food choices can feel overwhelming and intimidating – but don’t fret! Making sure that the dietary change is balanced by including foods from all different groups will ensure you get the nourishment needed for optimal health and well-being. We totally understand if this sounds like too much to take on alone – why not reach out to a Dietitian who can make navigating this transition easier? Your brain (and body) will thank you later!

What are the Different Types of Plant Based Diets for PCOS?

There’s an abundance of vegetarian dietary patterns! From the traditional lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, where dairy and eggs are allowed but no meat or fish; all the way to vegan diets that exclude animal products and byproducts altogether – each type is delicious in its own right. Here are some of the most common types of vegetarian diets:

Flexitarian Diet for PCOS

Are you looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact, but also enjoy the occasional meat-based meal? Try a Flexitarianism or Plant-Forward Diet! It’s an environmentally friendly diet that emphasizes plant-based meals with occasional portions of meat, poultry, or seafood – giving you the freedom to choose whatever meal fits best for any given occasion! With flexitarianism, you can make more mindful choices when it comes to what kinds of food you produce and consume.

Pescatarian Diet for PCOS

If you’re interested in exploring a plant-based diet but can’t quite let go of seafood, pescatarianism could be the choice for you! This dietary lifestyle allows for all manner of vegetables and grains as well as fish and seafood – leaving out just meat and poultry. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to heart health, this type of vegetarianism is also great at reducing inflammation. Give it a try today!

Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet for PCOS

Living a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is all about embracing the joy of plant-based eating while also incorporating nutrient and calcium-rich dairy products and eggs, but excludes meat, poultry, and seafood. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can obtain adequate protein and calcium from dairy products and eggs, while also enjoying the benefits of a plant-based diet. This style of dieting can provide a unique way to get creative in the kitchen, allowing you to explore new flavors without sacrificing essential nutrients – how delicious! Note that some vegetarians will choose to eat only dairy (lacto-vegetarians) or only eggs (ovo-vegetarian).

Vegan Diet for PCOS

Vegan diet excludes all animal products and byproducts, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs and honey. Vegans can obtain protein from plant-based sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, but may need to supplement their diet with Iron, Vitamin B12, Choline, Iodine and vitamin D, which are typically found in animal products.

Women with PCOS on a vegan diet may need to pay extra attention to getting enough nutrients for managing PCOS symptoms, especially for pregnancy.

Raw Vegan Diet for PCOS

This type of plant-based diet includes only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Raw vegans choose to follow an entirely raw and unprocessed plant-based nutrition plan – believing that cooking compromises the nutritional value of foods. Though this lifestyle sounds like it could be beneficial to health in theory; long-term adherence can prove tricky when considering protein & other essential nutrients needed for optimal PCOS management.  Our Dietitians Nutritionists strongly recommend against following this specific eating style as part of your overall wellness routine!

Women with PCOS who follow a vegetarian diet can benefit greatly from it; however, it’s vital to maintain balance by eating nutrient-dense foods, meeting your nutrient needs, and staying mindful of individual nutrition. Consulting with a registered dietitian who specializes in plant based diet for PCOS is an excellent way to attain your personal health objectives while accommodating your food preferences.

From Meat Lover to Veggie Queen : 6 Steps to Transition to a Plant Based Diet for PCOS

There are so many easy ways to add more plants in and help with transitioning into more of a plant-based diet… or becoming a “flexitarian.”  If you are already a pro at eating enough plants, check out my post on a secret weapon to boost your gut health! If you’re a rookie, that’s okay, keep reading for all the tips!

  1. Start Slowly: Making the lifestyle transition to a plant-based diet can seem overwhelming, so why not start small? Taking it one meal at a time is an easy way to incorporate more vegan meals into your routine. Starting slowly and gradually swapping out animal products means you get to enjoy all of the health benefits without sacrificing too much!  Check out our 6 easy meals for vegetarians for some recipes to start.

  2. Rely on Whole Foods: Eating whole foods, like fruits and veggies, legumes, and nuts, forms the foundation for a healthy plant-based diet. Nature’s bounty provides you with fiber, vitamins & minerals plus powerful antioxidants that may improve your insulin resistance as well as enhance hormone levels in your body – all contributing towards better overall health!

  3. Plan Ahead: Ready, Set, Plate! Eating a variety of nutritious plant-based meals doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Take the guesswork out of eating healthy by planning and prepping your meals in advance – an easy way to make sure you’re always nourished with delicious food. Here are 6 steps to meal planning for the week.

  4. Explore New Foods: Spice up your meals by venturing out and trying new plant-based foods! Take advantage of the wonderful resources available online, such as inspiring blogs, cookbooks, and recipe apps. With so many delicious recipes to choose from you’ll never be bored with what’s on your plate again! The caveat is that you can also overwhelm yourself by trying everything at once so only try 1 new food or recipe per week.

  5. Seek Support: Take the leap and become part of a vibrant community like meetups or social media groups devoted to transitioning to plant-based diets! Surround yourself with likeminded individuals who can motivate you, inspire your journey, and offer support when challenges arise. Joining them might be just what you need for a successful transition into veganism – so don’t hesitate any longer!

  6. Work with a PCOS Dietitian: Nourish your body and maximize your well-being! If you’re living with PCOS, working with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in plant-based nutrition can help ensure that all of your individual dietary needs are met. With careful consideration for any nutrient deficiencies, this professional will design an eating plan tailored to meet both personal health goals as well as overall nutritional balance – so you thrive while managing PCOS!

Making the transition to a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take small steps towards adopting this lifestyle by focusing on nutrient-rich foods that fit within your everyday routine – it’s all about finding what works for you!

Tips and Tricks from Our PCOS Nutritionist to Switch to a Vegetarian Diet

Replace 1/2 of your meat with plant-based proteins

This is my favourite way to be a flexitarian! Replacing ½ of the meat you would normally use with a plant-based protein. What does that look like?

  • Reduce the amount of meat in a stir fry by adding edamame beans or tofu instead
  • Beans! They’re great for dumping into a soup, chilli or Mexican-style dish (think enchiladas, tacos, fajitas)
  • With high protein and fibre – swapping out traditional wheat-based pasta or rice with bean-based pasta or rice is an awesome way to reduce the amount of meat you need in dishes like that, while also adding plants!

Switch one meal out a week with a vegetarian option

Meatless Mondays aren’t new – but they’ve certainly been picking up popularity since many are trying to eat less meat (whether that’s for environmental, health, or other reasons!).

  • There are tons of meat alternatives out there, making it easy to make your favourite staples like tacos, burgers, or chilli with Beyond Meat or beans instead.
  • Make your favourite dish without meat. You might be surprised that the thing you love most can be made vegetarian… and you’ll still love it! Butter chicken – swap the chicken for chickpeas or firm tofu. Love lasagna? Try making it with tons of roasted veggies, cauli crumble or mushroom-based ground round, spinach and vegan ricotta. 
  • Choose what meal you swap with caution though – you may end up liking the vegetarian version better! :O
  • Salads don’t have to suck! Salads get a bad rep, but when you load them up with things like roasted sweet potato, crispy chickpeas, different nutrient-packed greens, sprouts, rice or quinoa, hemp hearts, some of your favourite nuts or seeds, some great fancy cheese… add a tahini-based dressing and you’re winning!
  • Check out these dietitian-approved vegetarian recipes for some inspirations 
  • You can view making meals without meat as a creative challenge – especially if you love cooking, or you’re bored of the regular meals you seem to rotate through on a weekly basis. Ever tried to make cheese from potatoes and carrots (it sounds wild, but it’s SO good!)? What about fake meat from flour and water? The sky is the limit with how creative you want to get.

Opt for plant-based snacks instead

Reducing dairy or meat in the snacks you choose is also easier than you may think it is.

  • Toast cashews or other seeds and nuts (or eat on their own) and mix ‘em with spices! Chili powder, lime, and a tiny bit of salt and sugar and you got yourself a real treat.
  • Nut butters are great and go well with fruit – spread some on a banana, pear, or apple and level up your snack game. Spreading some on a whole-grain English muffin works too, for an even bigger punch!
  • You can roast chickpeas (they get really crunchy!) or steam edamame beans
  • And of course, you can’t go wrong with some hummus paired with veggies


And if you’re a “Graduate,” here are some ideas to implement to take it to the next level:

Eat animal products once daily

Be a vegetarian for your first two meals of the day, and add meat into the mix for the third.

Eat meat once or twice a week

Make eating vegetarian meals the norm and meat dishes something to look forward to. My personal favourite is Friday night steaks!

Plan meals around plants vs. meat

Instead of thinking about building your meal around meat, think about building it around vegetables or plant-based protein. Maybe you want broccoli as a main (am I the only one that craves a good green veggie every once in a while?), you could add nuts, sauces, and potentially some marinated tofu and make a great meal!

Soy and PCOS: Is Soy Safe?

As modern women, we are constantly bombarded with conflicting information about what we should and should not be eating. This is even worse for women with PCOS! For those living with conditions such as PCOS, it can feel overwhelming to navigate the vast array of dietary recommendations. You may have heard that soy has compounds called phytoestrogens that will increase your estrogen levels if you eat them. That is not true! Our hormonal system is not that simple. In fact, the phytoestrogens can interact with our estrogen receptors which will tell your body that it needs to make LESS estrogen! If someone is struggling with low estrogen levels, this effect of soy would not be helpful though and those women may need to be cautious about their soy intake.


The research has suggested that phytoestrogens found in soy may hold a potentially positive solution for women struggling with elevated androgen (testosterone) levels. By reducing overall estrogen production in the body, phytoestrogens could have an anti-estrogenic effect on those living with PCOS or who have lower levels of endogenous estrogen due to menopause.  As always, it is important to consult with a qualified PCOS Dietitian when exploring the best dietary approach.

PCOS and Beans: Are Beans Helpful?

For women with PCOS, finding foods that are both delicious and beneficial to their health can be a challenge. However, incorporating beans into their diet can be a game changer. Beans offer a multitude of benefits that are important for women with PCOS, including being an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. But that’s not all — beans are also rich in phytonutrients such as flavonoids and phenolic acids which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For women with PCOS, the reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress is crucial. By adding beans to their diet, women with PCOS can help promote insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels while enjoying a delicious, satisfying meal.


If you have PCOS, you may have concerns about incorporating beans into your diet due to their carbohydrate content. However, the good news is that beans are also high in fiber and protein which can help regulate your blood sugar levels. This is important because PCOS is often associated with insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance. While beans are not a complete source of protein, you can combine them with whole grains like brown rice or quinoa to create a complete protein source. So, don’t be afraid to add beans to your plant-based diet. They are a nutritious and healthy option for women with PCOS.

Finding the right balance of nutrients to support your PCOS symptoms

Women with PCOS may find it challenging to handle blood sugar levels or manage their weight, which is why following a balanced diet is crucial. Incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins can help maintain energy levels, manage weight, and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Understanding the right balance of nutrients can be overwhelming, but taking small steps like meal planning and choosing whole foods can make all the difference in achieving optimal health as a vegetarian or vegan with PCOS.


If you do not eat dairy, here is how you can get enough calcium in your diet:

  • Use calcium-set tofu and calcium-fortified milk alternatives.
  • Aim for 2-3 servings of these foods daily
  • Include a variety of low oxalate leafy greens daily like kale, bok choy, collard greens, napa cabbage and broccoli.
  • Swap your peanut butter for almond butter or tahini more often
  • Use chia seeds in smoothies, make chia pudding or chia seed jam, or sprinkled on toast!
  • Try to use blackstrap molasses.
  • Add to your smoothies, oatmeal, soups, stews, and chili, on top of your toast, in energy balls, or in other baking!
  • Prunes are also a great plant-based food for bone health.

    Dairy-Free Foods High in Calcium
  • 1/2 cup of calcium set tofu = 270 mg
  • 1/2 cup of tempeh = 97 mg
  • 1/2 cup of edamame beans = 178 mg
  • 1 cup of fortified Silk Almond Milk = 450 mg
  • 1 cup of bok choy, cooked = 158 mg
  • 1 cup of collard greens, cooked = 283 mg
  • 1 cup of kale, cooked = 179 mg
  • 1/4 cup of almonds = 87 mg
  • 2 TB of almond butter = 113 mg
  • 2 TB of tahini = 128 mg
  • 2 TB of chia seeds = 136 mg
  • 2 TB of blackstrap molasses = 358 mg
  • 1 orange = 60 mg

Vitamin B12

Include foods fortified with B12 more often such as fortified nutritional yeast, fortified meat alternatives, and fortified milk alternatives. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you would need to be diligent in consuming enough fortified B12 foods daily, I recommend using a supplement (see supplement section below).


Consider adding some delicious plant-based sources to each meal such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans into meals – plus tofu, cashew nuts, or chia seeds for crunchy goodness! Going green is an option too with superfoods like kale and ground linseed. For both sweet & savory cravings, there are dried apricots & figs, raisins as well as quinoa on the menu. And don’t forget fortified breakfast cereals if you want quick yet nutritious options! With all these tasty choices it’ll be easy to get more of this important nutrient in your diet – just remember that other factors can also affect how much iron gets absorbed by our bodies.

Pair iron-rich plant foods with vitamin C-rich foods to increase non-heme iron absorption by 4-6 times! High vitamin-C foods include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Tomato sauce
  • Berries
  • Citrus

Pair iron-rich plant foods with garlic or onion also increases absorption.  Avoid drinking tea or coffee with iron-rich meals or with iron-containing supplements.  Cook in a cast-iron skillet or use an iron fish.


Studies have shown that low zinc levels are linked to higher levels of testosterone, a hormone that can worsen symptoms like acne, hair growth, and female pattern balding. Zinc is an essential mineral that helps support numerous bodily functions, including immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. Unfortunately, if you choose to go plant-based you may struggle to get enough zinc. 

How to boost your zinc intake:

  • Eat a variety of zinc-containing foods daily.
  • Soak and rinse beans, lentils, and whole grains before cooking (preferably overnight or 8+ hours).
  • Other forms of preparation like sprouting, fermenting, and blending will help increase the digestibility and availability of zinc.
  • Add garlic or onion to increase the absorption of zinc from the chickpeas, tahini, and grains.
  • Adding garlic to hummus or grains increases zinc absorption from the chickpeas, tahini, and grains.
  • Take a good quality prenatal or daily multivitamin supplement that includes zinc.

Foods High in Zinc:

  • Tofu (1/2 cup) = 1.1 mg
  • Tempeh (1/2 cup) = 1 mg
  • Cooked kidney beans (1 cup) = 1.9 mg
  • Cooked chickpeas (1cup) = 2.6 mg
  • Cooked lentils (1 cup) = 2.7 mg
  • Natural peanut butter (2 tbsp) = 1.0 mg
  • Natural almond butter (2 tbsp) = 1.1 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) = 2.7 mg
  • Hemp hearts (1/4 cup) = 3.7 mg
  • Chia seeds (1/4 cup) = 2.0 mg
  • Tahini (2 tbsp) = 1.4 mg
  • Raw cashews (1/4 cup) = 1.9 mg
  • Cooked quinoa (1/2 cup) = 1.1 mg
  • Cooked brown rice (1/2 cup) = 0.6 mg
  • Cooked amaranth (1/2 cup) = 1.1 mg
  • Cooked oats (1 cup) = 2.4 mg
  • Cooked quinoa (1/2 cup) = 1.1 mg
  • Nutritional yeast (2 tbsp) = ~2.2 mg

Read more about zinc and PCOS in our blog post here.


The Omega-3 fat, ALA, is an essential fat. This means that our body cannot make it and we must get it through food. When eaten, ALA can be converted to other omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA, however, this process is very inefficient. Most plant-based sources of omega-3s are ALA. These fats, especially DHA, are important for proper brain, nerve, and eye development, protecting our immune system and fighting inflammation.

The daily intake goal of ALA is 1.1 mg but, if there are no other sources of EPA/DHA in your diet, the goal increases to 2.2 mg per day!

How to get enough omega-3s:

  • Eat 1-2 tbsp of ground flaxseed, flax oil, chia seed, hemp hearts, or 1/4 cup walnuts daily.
  • Add to smoothies, oatmeal, and sauces, on top of salads, pasta, or nut butter toast.
  • In addition to eating ALA-rich foods daily, you can also consider an algae-based supplement of 200-300 mg DHA or 500 mg EPA + DHA, daily or two to three times per week.

Foods High in ALA:

  • Flaxseed oil (1 tbsp) = 7.3 g
  • Ground flax seed (1 tbsp) = 2.4 g
  • Chia seeds (1 tbsp) = 1.7 g
  • Hemp hearts (1 tbsp) = 0.9 g
  • Walnuts (1/4 cup) = 2.3 g

Do I Need Supplements as Someone with PCOS on a Vegetarian Diet?

Including supplements in your diet can help prevent worsening symptoms and promote overall health. It’s important to remember that supplements should not replace a balanced diet, but rather act as an aid to fill in any gaps. Eating a plant-based diet is beneficial to your health in many ways but you also need to be more diligent about getting enough of the right nutrients to help regulate insulin levels, promote hormonal balance, and improve fertility. 

General Supplement Recommendations for PCOS on a Plant Based Diet

  • Add vitamin D3 1000 unit tablet, taken once daily – best absorbed with a source of fat such as omega-3 supplements, meals or snack
  • Add vitamin B12 tablet, 250-500 mcg taken once daily
  • Cyanocobalamin is a more stable form of vitamin B12 than methylcobalamin and continues to be the recommended form of a B12 supplement.
  • Add an algae-based supplement of 200-300 mg DHA or 500 mg EPA + DHA, daily or two to three times per week.

    Check out our other blogs on supplements for PCOS here:
  • PCOS dietary supplements
  • Supplements to help insulin resistance


If you’re considering going vegetarian or vegan with PCOS, it’s important to understand the potential benefits, as well as some of the challenges you may encounter. By eliminating animal products from your diet, you may experience improved weight management, hormonal balance, and insulin sensitivity. However, it’s also important to be mindful of getting enough protein, iron, and other key nutrients that are often found in animal products. With a little bit of planning and education, vegetarian and vegan diets can be a healthy and sustainable way to manage PCOS symptoms. It’s always a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.

In conclusion, with careful planning and meal preparation, it is possible to eat vegetarian or vegan with PCOS. It’s important to understand our unique nutrient needs as we make the transition; incorporating high-quality plant proteins, healthy fats and carbs, iron, zinc, and B12 supplements will help make the journey much smoother. Additionally, creating a plan for living meat-free long term can help ease the transition period and ensure that your diet provides all of the nutrients you need to keep PCOS symptoms under control. Finally, remember that lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight; take time to adjust and be patient with yourself as you discover which changes work best for your body.

So if you are considering going vegetarian or vegan for PCOS relief, plan ahead and start implementing manageable dietary changes today! Don’t forget to download our meal plans from this blog post if you’re feeling overwhelmed – we’re here to support you each step of the way!

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