An ovo-vegetarian in the strictest sense is a person who does not eat meat, fish, or dairy products. The diet of this type of vegetarian would generally consist of grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, and eggs. Sometimes people confuse ovo-vegetarian with lacto-ovo vegetarian. The latter type of person also consumes dairy products, making him different from someone who only eats eggs in addition to standard vegetarian items.
Some people find ovo-vegetarianism more attractive and in general kinder to animals. Many feel that the conditions of animals raised as dairy animals are not kind, and that especially large dairies do a number of things to animals that represent cruelty. These include practices like making sure that cows are pregnant regularly so that their milk production level remains high. Given the resources, an ovo-vegetarian could raise cows or goats and only collect milk from the animals after their naturally occurring pregnancies, thus avoiding cruelty, but not everyone has these resources.
Alternately, the ovo-vegetarian might not object to dairy practices, but could have lactose intolerance or dairy allergy that prevents consumption of milk or milk byproducts. They might willingly eat these otherwise, but simply cannot. They thus simply remove the lacto aspect of lacto-ovo vegetarianism, and restrict meat byproduct consumption to eggs.
A number of vegetarians believe they do not get enough nutrients from even a well-planned diet, and certain vitamins like the B vitamins and minerals like iron are hard to get without consumption of some meat byproduct. Eggs, especially because the circumstances under which these animals can be raised can be controlled. These provide good vitamins and they can significantly vary the diet, offering a number of options unavailable when eggs are not used. There are books and websites designated to ovo-vegetarian recipes that can help people get started.
There has been expressed concern that the ovo-vegetarian may have a diet too high in cholesterol. This is usually not a great concern if the vegetarian eats a varied diet and exercises portion control on any foods that contain eggs. Since few cholesterol sources are being consumed, like red meat, cholesterol levels can usually stay fairly low.
The danger of a high cholesterol diet may come for vegetarians who don’t prefer vegetables. If a large part of the diet includes eggs, then cholesterol levels could jump to an undesirable range. A diet that is mostly vegetarian with a few eggs thrown in each week is unlikely to have this result.