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what is a lacto vegetarian

Vegetables milk and eggs

Understanding a Lacto Vegetarian Lifestyle

Lacto vegetarianism is a type of vegetarian diet that, while excluding meat, fish, and poultry, includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. The term ‘Lacto’ originates from the Latin word lactis, meaning milk. Thus, a ‘Lacto’ vegetarian is one who consumes dairy products but abstains from the intake of other animal-based products.

The Basic Philosophy Behind Lacto Vegetarianism

The lacto vegetarian diet is rooted in various philosophies, cultural beliefs, and health consciousness. Some people also choose this diet as a transition phase towards a completely plant-based diet. Spiritually, it is widely followed by certain Buddhist and Hindu traditions, which place high value on non-violence, and hence, abstain from consuming animal flesh.

Diet Composition of a Lacto Vegetarian

As a lacto vegetarian, your diet would primarily consist of a plethora of plant-based foods. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are the main components. The twist here is the inclusion of dairy products- milk and its derivatives like cheese, yogurt, and butter, which adds a wider variety to their nutritional intake.

However, lacto vegetarians strictly exclude eggs and any form of meat, poultry, or seafood from their diet. Unlike lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume both dairy products and eggs, lacto vegetarians believe in completely eradicating the use of eggs.

Nutritional Advantages of a Lacto Vegetarian Diet

Adopting a lacto vegetarian diet can offer numerous health benefits. As this diet is plant-based, it generally tends to have a lower calorie count and is rich in fiber, which helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes good digestion.

The inclusion of dairy products provides a good source of protein and vitamin B12. They also provide necessary minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium that our bodies need.

Be Cautious: Potential Nutritional Deficiencies

While there are several health advantages, potential nutritional deficiencies associated with a lacto vegetarian diet do require attention. Key nutrients that might be deficient include Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Iron. However, with careful planning and perhaps supplementation, these deficiencies can be effectively managed.


In essence, a lacto vegetarian diet provides a valuable and compassionate route towards a more health-conscious and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. With its wealth of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and the inclusion of dairy products, it offers a dietary lifestyle both varied and nutritious. It’s always suggested to consult with a healthcare professional or a dietician before making any major changes to your diet.