Americans with diabetes almost doubled their spending on medications for the disease in just the past 6 years, with last year's bill soaring to $12.5 billion. It's Diabetes Awareness Month. I think this year we should focus on the simple, cost-conscious dietary and lifestyle choices that can help the nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States who cope with this potentially life-threatening disease. Most people with type 2 diabetes take several different medications to control cholesterol and blood sugar, and even more patients are getting multiple prescriptions as new drugs come on the market. But as a dietitian, I know that a healthy vegan diet can help people manage their type 2 diabetes and can even reduce or eliminate the need for a multi-drug regimen. Studies have shown that a low-fat vegan diet works better than the standard diabetes diet to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, cause weight loss, and decrease the risk of diabetes complications, Most people would prefer changing what they eat to taking expensive drugs if it would improve their health. With a low-fat, vegan diet, people can take control of their health - and their wallets. Susan Levin is a staff dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.