People who decide to refrain from consuming meat for various reasons are known as vegetarians. Several different types of vegetarians exist. One type of vegetarian lifestyle, the lacto vegetarian diet, includes the consumption of dairy products.
Also known as a lactarian or lactovegetarian diet, a lacto vegetarian diet may include any dairy product that does not include meat. Lactarian eaters may consume yogurt, milk, kefir, butter, cheese, and cream. If any of these products include animal meat, such as gelatin or rennet, lactarians will not eat them. The majority of vegetarians in the world eat a lacto vegetarian diet.
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Lactovegetariansim excludes the eating of eggs. Like most other vegetarian diets, lactovegetarians do not consume fish, sheep, pigs, cows, sea animals, or chickens. These are considered sentient foods, or foods that have feelings and can experience pain. Many vegetarians do not eat animals because of this reason.
Other lactovegetarians adopt their lifestyle for their own health purposes. Refraining from eating meat has been shown to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent the development of excess body fat, and result in other health benefits. Some studies show that it may help reduce the risk of cancer and other illnesses.
Meatless diets are generally considered healthy. Lacto vegetarians often have to supplement their diets with a protein source. This could be in the form of soy, tofu, textured vegetable protein, or other meatless sources. Without an adequate supply of nutrients, anemia, osteoporosis, and other conditions can develop.
Environmentalists often follow a lacto vegetarian diet as well. They do this because refraining from eating meat can help reduce the number of plants and vegetables lost in order to produce the meat. Pollution, water waste, the burning of fossil fuels, and other detrimental effects to the environment can result from meat production.
Originally, the lacto vegetarian diet was a practice in ancient India. Practitioners of the lifestyle usually took part for religious purposes. In India, this diet is simply known as a vegetarian diet. Followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism often follow this diet. They usually do this to practice ahisma, or nonviolence, toward all living creatures. According to many Eastern sacred texts, God values all life, including animals, equally.
Lacto comes from the Latin word for milk, lactis. Most lacto vegetarians eat well-rounded, healthy diets. These typically include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds in addition to dairy products. A lacto vegetarian diet is typically high in fiber and low in fat.