What is a Lacto Vegetarian Diet?

Sara Schmidt

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.

A lacto vegetarian dish.
A lacto vegetarian dish.

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.

Nuts and seeds are an important part of a healthy diet.
Nuts and seeds are an important part of a healthy 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.

Tofu is a great source of protein for lacto vegetarians.
Tofu is a great source of protein for lacto vegetarians.

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.

Dairy products include cheese, milk and cottage cheese.
Dairy products include cheese, milk and cottage cheese.

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.

Lacto vegetarians are vegetarians that still consume dairy products.
Lacto vegetarians are vegetarians that still consume dairy products.

Discussion Comments


I presume one reason for being a lactarian is understanding what would happen to the dairy cows if human interaction ceased. The cows would have an excess of milk with minimal possibilities for excretion.

I feel that with human interference, the cows can actually live a healthier and happier life )provided they have loving owners). Since this does not harm the cows or end their lives, and actually benefits them, it would be a nice route to go for those who can't go all animal-free.

Eggs actually have a chick inside that we consume, which does pose harm on the unborn chick because there's no way the chick would continue living once eaten.


I wonder why someone would elect to eat dairy but stop eating eggs? Even if you do not like eating plain eggs, they show up in lots of things and are indistinguishable. Are there any lacto vegetarians out there who can explain this choice to me? Why one and not the other?

I am a vegan and I don't know how anyone can eat a lacto vegetarian diet and feel like they are really eating ethically. I understand that people become vegetarians for lots of reasons and for some animal welfare is irrelevant. But if animal welfare is important to you at all you should realize that dairy cows live lives just as gross and miserable as any beef cow.

The same goes for egg laying chickens. The industrial production of animal products is by its very nature cruel and degrading to the animals. So while vegetarianism is a step in the right direction, it is incomplete. Do the right thing and give up animal products entirely.

I've heard that one of the biggest concerns for vegetarians is getting enough protein in their diets. Eating dairy is one of the best ways. Foods like milk and cottage cheese are high in protein but relatively low in calories. They can be a viable way for vegetarians to get the protein they need to keep their diet healthy.

Plus, they are a rare source of decadence for vegetarians. If you don't eat meat, the only major sources of fats are oil and dairy. Oil gets old but a slice of cheese or a scoop if ice cream are decadent like nothing else is. It helps make the diet easier.


i think that anybody could eat meat and that they wouldn't be judged as a killer.

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