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What Is Lacto-Vegetarian? Diet, Benefits & Meal Plans

What Is Lacto Vegetarian

Vegetarianism is becoming ever so popular across the globe. But there are different variations of the vegetarian diet. So, if you’re about to opt for a plant-based way of eating, terms like lacto-vegetarian, flexitarian, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc. might confuse you. So what is lacto-vegetarian?

A lacto-vegetarian diet is a plant-based dietery regimen, which includes dairy products like milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese. It excludes meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.

In this post, we will take an in-depth look at lacto-vegetarianism, its benefits, and additional tips to help you make the right dietary choices.

So, keep on reading to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • Lacto-vegetarianism is a plant-based diet that includes dairy but excludes meat, fish and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarianism has numerous benefits, like reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
  • People choose a lacto-vegetarian diet to promote environmental sustainability, animal welfare and for religious reasons.

What Does Lacto-Vegetarian Mean?

Lacto-vegetarian Dessert

As stated, the lacto-vegetarian diet is a plant-based eating program that allows the consumption of dairy products but completely bans eating meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. In other words, lacto-vegetarians include some amount of animal derivates in their diet.

It ultimately means that lacto-vegetarians get proteins, fiber, calcium, and other essential nutrients from dairy and plant-based sources, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc.

The concept of lacto-vegetarianism is deep-rooted in Indian history. Indian religions like Jainism, a major part of Hinduism, and Buddhism practiced this type of diet as a part of their religious and ethical lifestyle.

Other than that, George Cheyne, a Scottish physician, was also an early practitioner of lacto-vegetarianism, who promoted a plant-based and diary-rich diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent conditions like obesity.

In other parts of the Western world, lacto-vegetarianism gained popularity around the 19th and 20th centuries to stop animal cruelty and promote environmental sustainability.

As we have various concepts of vegetarianism, people often get confused about which term defines what.

See below the different characteristics of various plant-based dietary regimens, which fall under the category of vegeterianism:

  • Lacto-ovo vegtarians: This group of vegetarians allows eating eggs and dairy but avoids eating meat, including poultry and fish.
  • Pescatarians: They eat fish and seafood but do not consume any other types of meat.
  • Flexitarians: As the name says it, these folks follow a very flexible diet. They are fine with consuming dairy and eggs, while predominantly focusing and healthy plant-based food sources. However, flexitarians have no qualms about eating on rare occasions meat an fish.
  • Vegans: Finally, we have vegans, who consume solely plant-based food. Thy will not touch under any circumstances anything derived from animals.

As you can see, there are differences, as well as similarities, between different vegetarian concepts and lacto-vegetarianism. If you’ve just started following a vegetarian diet, keeping a flexible approach would help you figure out what meets your nutritional requirements, while satisfying your taste buds.

Related: What Does a Vegetarian Eat for Breakfast? 10 Healthy Ideas

What Do Lacto-vegetarians Eat?

Lacto-vegetarians eat a variety of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and of course, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, milk, etc.

Here is a list of foods you can eat as a lacto-vegetarian:

  • All types of vegetables: Potatos, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, celery, spinach, lettuce, sweat potatos, pepper, onion, garlic, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, mangos, oranges, peaches, berries, avocados, tomatoes, pears, apricots, dried fruits, like raisins, etc.
  • Mushrooms: Button mushrooms, flat mushrooms, Portabella mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, and more.
  • Nuts & Seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, soybeans, etc.
  • Whole grains: Rice, oats, barley, Amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, rye, millet, etc.
  • Dairy: Milk, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, ghee, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, dark chocolate, etc.

As a lacto-vegetarian, you cannot eat:

  • Eggs:
  • Meat, poultry, fish:
  • Things containing animal ingredients like gelatin, fish oil, etc.:

Here are a few delicious and nutritious meal options lacto-vegetarians can enjoy:


  • Mix oats, fruits of your choice, yogurt, chopped nuts, and granola. You can add some honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness.
  • Make an avocado toast with cherry tomatoes and some cheese.
  • A fruit salad and cream can be the perfect start of your day, too.


  • Enjoy brown rice and stir-fried vegetables with cottage cheese or tofu.
  • A lentil soup and whole-grain pita bread is a nutricious and light lunch, that's for sure.
  • Preapre a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh salad, as a side dish.


  • Mushroom and spinach lasagna is a hearty meal for your dinner.
  • another option could be a baked potato with broccoli and cheese.
  • To spice up your dinner, enjoy a vegetable curry with rice.


  • Dry fruits and seeds;
  • Hummus and carrot sticks;
  • Crackers and cheese;
  • Apple slices with nut butter.

Since lacto-vegetarianism does not believe in a total ban on the consumption of animal products, finding suitable eating options in various cuisines shouldn’t be an issue.

In almost every cuisine around the world, be it Indian, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, or Chinese, there are plenty of options for lacto-vegetarians.

Don’t have the time to cook your vegetarian lunch? Then, entrust the job to Cook Unity’s award-winning local chefs! Order our reliable and convenient vegetarian meal delivery service today to save time and effort! Our vegetarian range of dishes are not only healthy, nutricious and tasty, but also include options, suitable for both ovo- and lacto-vegetarians.

Lacto-vegetarian Nutritional Needs

The meatless diet, lacto-vegetarans follow, is considered healthier choice. However, vegetarians can be at risk of developing calcium, iron, and vitamin B12 deficiency if not careful.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a range of health issues, some of which - rather serious. And lacto-vegetarians rely only on dairy products to meet their vitamin B12 needs.

Also, lacto-vegetarians should pay extra attention to getting enough iron and Omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds are a good source of the latter.

To sum up, focus on adding a variety of plant-based and dairy products to provide your body with all essential macro- and micronutriens like protein, carbs, fats, fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals.

Related: How to Get B12 as a Vegetarian? Tips for a Balanced Diet

Lacto-Vegetarian Diet: The Benefits

Following a well-balanced lacto-vegetarian diet can actually have multiple benefits. Unlike a vegan diet, where you have to cut down on all animal-derived ingredients, lacto-vegetarians, as we've established, consume dairy products.

Here are some potential benefits of the lacto-vegetarian diet:

Reduced Risk Of Chronic Disease

Researchers believe that the lacto-vegetarian diet prevents the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancer types.

People, who rely more on plant-based sources for their nutritional needs, are at lesser risk of deveoping high blood pressure.

Lower Cholesterol Levels

Since lacto-vegetarians do not consume meat, they typically have a lower risk of developing bad cholesterol (LDL), which can again improve heart health.

Better Digestion

A plant-based diet is high in fiber, which improves digestion and prevents problems like constipation and other digestive issues.

Helps in Weight Loss

If you want to shed some extra weight, following a lacto-vegetarian diet might take you closer to your goals. People following a plant-based diet often have lower body mass index (BMI) than those, who consume meat.

Ovo Vegetarianism: What Is It and How Is It Different From Lacto-vegetarianism?

Ovo-vegetarian dish

Ovo-vegetarianism is another branch of the vegetarian diet that excludes all animal products except eggs. Ovo-vegetarians do not consume any meat and dairy products. However, they don't mind eating eggs and foods made with eggs like egg noodles, cakes, mayonnaise, etc.

So, what does an ovo-vegetarian diet look like? Here is a list of things that an ovo-vegetarian eats on a daily basis:

  • Whole grains like rice, quinoa, oats, and barley;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Eggs and foods with eggs.

Ovo-vegetarians do not eat the following:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter;
  • Meat, poultry, and fish;
  • Any other substance that’s derived from animals, such as gelatin, carmine, casein, etc.

Since ovo-vegetarians consume eggs, they get essential nutrients like protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and more. However, those, who follow the ovo diet, may be at risk of becoming deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron.

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarianism: A More Flexible Eating Approach

If you find leaving either dairy or eggs out of your diet too restrictive, you can go for the ovo-lacto vegetarian dietary plan. In this dietary approach, you have the flexibility to include both eggs and dairy but not meat or fish.

People, who are at increased risk of protein, calcium, or iron deficiency, would benefit a lot from an ovo-lacto vegetarian type of diet and can have a wider choice of food they can eat.

What Is Lacto-Vegetarian? FAQs

Q: Is Lacto-vegetarian the Same as Vegan?

A: No, lacto-vegetarian and vegan are not the same. Vegans avoid any animal products, including eggs and dairy, while dairy is allowed in the lacto-vegetarian diet.

Q: What Is Another Name for Lacto-vegetarian?

A: Lacto-vegetarians are also called lactarians.

Q: Are Eggs Vegetarian?

A: Vegetarianism excludes any form of animal flesh like meat, as well as meat- and bone-derivative products, such as gelatin, stocks, broths and gravy. So, in that sense, eggs are considered suitable for vegetarians.

Related: What Percentage of the Population Is Vegetarian?


That's everything you need to know about lacto-vegetarianism, its nutritional considerations, benefits, and drawbacks. If you're new to these diet concepts, it's best to embrace the journey with an open mind and don't be too strict on yourself.

Explore different lacto-vegetarian food options, and see how you and your body respond to them. Aim to include vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and dairy products to keep your nutrition tank full!