Perhaps more widely recognized than any vegetarian sub-group, "lacto-ovo vegetarians" are vegetarians whose meal plans consist of plant foods plus animal milks, cheeses, and yogurts made from animal milks, and eggs from chickens or other animals. In the name of this subgroup, "lacto" comes from the Latin word lac meaning "milk," and "ovo" from the Latin word ovum meaning "egg."
This dietary approach follows an ethical philosophy that draws a clear line between the consumption of foods produced by animals versus consumption of the animals themselves. It is possible to consume both eggs and milk without harming the animals who produced them, even though prevention of harm is by no means guaranteed unless the person who is raising, milking, and tending to the animals takes special care in doing so. Below are some stand-out features of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.
From a nutritional standpoint, lacto-ovo vegetarian eating is an approach that makes sense to us, although we also believe that it is important to stay focused on a diverse mix of plant foods as the basis of this approach and to avoid swinging the dietary balance over to dairy/eggs as the foundation of this meal plan. There is too much potential in this group for excessive intake of certain fats—as well as overall calories—if dairy/eggs become the focus of the plan. A multiple-egg cheese omelet 3-4 times per week is not what we have in mind here, but something more like our 1-egg-per-serving Poached Eggs Over Collard Greens & Shiitake Mushrooms 1-2 days per week, or our 10-Minute Energizing Oatmeal several days per week with its 1/2-cup of milk per serving.
For more information on the subject of vegetarian diets, please see our overview article "A Practical Look at Vegetarian Diets" as well as the following Q+As.
To see the research articles we reviewed in the writing of these articles, see here.
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