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Last Updated on April 5, 2021

Few people realize that there are several types of vegetarian diets. If you are researching information about vegetarians, you will surely come across the term. Many different cultures around the world practice Lacto-vegetarianism on a daily basis. But, what is it? And how does it differ from other lifestyles?

About Lacto-Vegetarian Diets

The definition of this word is essentially a vegetarian who also consumes dairy products. Their vegetarian diet is full of plant-based foods in addition to goat cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat animal products such as eggs.

When we think about vegetarianism foods in the United States, we often assume that vegetarian people eat dairy and eggs. However, the understanding of the veg diet differs around the world. In India, a lacto-vegetarian diet is the default type.

As a prefix, you probably recognize that "lacto" relates to milk. If you ask someone about their vegetarian diet though, they would most likely not use this term. Instead, they would probably just tell you that they eat plant-based with the occasional cheese and milk.

What are the Benefits?

Research shows that there are several health benefits to a lacto-vegetarian diet. Some people may choose to adopt this lifestyle for ethical and environmental concerns as well. Some of the effects on health include:

  • Heart health. This vegetarian diet can reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure. In turn, it can lower your risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a study, “Vegetarian diets are inversely associated with risk of developing diabetes.” (1) Studies show improved control of blood sugar with lacto-vegetarians.
  • Good for losing weight. Cutting out meat can help you reach weight loss goals.

Researchers have linked vegetarian diets to a decreased risk of getting certain cancers as well. However, more research needs to happen to determine the effects of the lacto-vegetarian diet specifically.

Generally, cutting out meat from your diet (or even reducing it) has many positive effects. If you are considering doing the diet veg but want to keep your dairy products, the lacto-vegetarian diet may be for you.

Are There Any Downsides?

The lacto-vegetarian diet has the ability to give you everything your body needs to remain healthy. However, it is important to meal plan properly so that you don't have to deal with nutrient deficiencies.

Eggs have essential micronutrients like vitamin D and vitamin A. Meat and fish contain nutrients such as:

  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • vitamin B12
  • zinc
  • iron
  • protein

If you do not get the amounts you need of these nutrients, you may encounter mood changes, poor immune function, and other risk factors such as stunted growth. Be sure to consume whole foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to keep your bone health up. (2)

Search for meal recipes that provide variety and lots of protein. If you're concerned about your eating pattern, consider taking an omega 3 supplement to get the same nutrient intake as meat-eaters.

Going to the Grocery Store

The lacto-vegetarian diet is not extremely restrictive. It is essentially the vegan diet plus some animal products such as milk products and egg products. When you shop for food, make sure you read the labels to understand nutritional content. Some plant-based food choices for dinner include:

  • Herbs and spices such as thyme, parsley, pepper, oregano, basil, rosemary, and cumin
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, and chia seeds
  • Butter, milk, yogurt
  • Black beans, carrots, lentils, peas, chickpeas
  • Fruit such as bananas, pears, oranges, and apples.

To cook, you can use olive oil, coconut oil, and other good fats. Of course, you should stay away from meat, poultry, and meat-based ingredients such as:

  • Eggs, including egg whites
  • Seafood such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, and salmon
  • Duck, turkey, and chicken
  • Other meat products such as bacon, carmine, lard, and gelatin.

Finding sustainable food sources is important in your lacto-vegetarian diet. Once you find a place with fresh produce and plenty of non-meat options for protein, finding foods for vegetarians is a breeze.

If you aren't a fan of grocery shopping, consider vegetarian food delivery services!

FAQ

What does lacto vegetarian eat?

A sample meal plan that would work with the lacto-vegetarian diet includes many food groups. For example, breakfast options could be:

  • yogurt with berries and banana
  • cinnamon and nutmeg oatmeal with walnuts
  • whey protein smoothie
  • toast topped with tomatoes and avocado

For lunch or dinner, you could eat a veggie burger with fries, lentil stew with brown rice, stir fry, a burrito bowl, teriyaki tempeh, or cauliflower wings with a side salad.

Some snack ideas for lacto-vegetarianism food include:

  • sweet potato wedges
  • berries trail mix with sunflower seeds, nuts, and oats
  • celery and hummus
  • chips and salsa
  • crackers with cheese
  • veggies with ranch (made without mayonnaise)

What are the 4 types of vegetarians?

There are many levels of the vegetarian diet. From least to most to restrictive, the types are:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian. The most common vegetarian type, these people eat dairy products and eggs. They do not eat fish, fowl, white meat, or red meat.
  • Ovo-vegetarian. Ovo vegetarians consume only non-meat products and eggs here!
  • Lacto-vegetarian. Yes to dairy products, no to eggs, meat, and fish.
  • Vegan. Vegans avoid all animal products. They do not eat eggs, use honey, or use any other by-products from animals.

What is the difference between lacto vegetarian and vegetarian?

Lacto-vegetarians eat plant-based foods and also consume dairy products. Like a regular vegetarian diet, they still avoid meat, poultry, and fish.

What are the 3 types of vegetarians?

The three vegetarian diets are classified as:

  • Lacto vegetarian
  • Ovo vegetarian
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian

These differences vary by culture. The vegetarian diet in the United States is often lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes eggs and dairy products.

Lacto-Vegetarian Diet - Last Words

Not all vegetarians follow the same vegetarian diet. The several types allow people to have the flexibility to match their diets with their preferences. As a lacto-vegetarian, you can fill up on plants while also getting your calcium from dairy consumption.

There is a range of health reasons to follow a lacto-vegetarian menu. However, make sure you avoid nutrient deficiency by filling up on rich, whole legumes and things that non-vegetarians get from meat. Consider making enjoyable meals such as a falafel wrap, chickpea pot pie, collard greens with bell peppers, and more.

Resources:

  1. Olfert, M., & Wattick, R. (2018, September 18). Vegetarian Diets and the Risk of Diabetes. Retrieved August 08, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153574/

  2. Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition. (2019, July 19). Retrieved August 08, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446

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