Lacto Vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat flesh or eggs of any kind – animal, fish or bird.
Lacto Vegetarians however consume dairy products such as milk, vegetarian cheese (without animal rennet), yogurt (without gelatin), butter, curd and cream.
The origin of “lacto” is the Latin word for milk, [lac, lactis].
I belong to this category of vegetarians. So you can call me a lacto vegetarian
Why a lacto vegetarian does not consume eggs?
This egg-less diet is adopted by vegetarians for some or all of the following reasons:
- It is felt that egg contains life which in due course will transform into an animal and hence from the religious point of view one should not eat it. This is also the primary reason why most lacto-vegetarian people do not consume egg. A vegetarian who eats eggs and consumes dairy products too is called as a lacto ovo vegetarian.
- They refrain from eating eggs to protest cruelty in the poultry industry.
- The other reason could be that a health-conscious person who wishes to lower his cholesterol levels does not consume eggs because of the high amount of cholesterol contained in egg yolks. This is also the reason why even non-vegetarians, and especially body builders, eat only the egg while and throw away the yolk. The egg white is supposed to have all the proteins and the fat is in the yolk.
Eastern Religions and Lacto Vegetarian diet
Lacto vegetarian diet is popular with many followers of Eastern religious traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. They are therefore also known for some excellent lacto vegetarian recipes.
In India vegetarianism is usually synonymous with lacto vegetarianism, although lacto-ovo vegetarianism is practiced as well. Most restaurants in India indicate whether they are “Non-Vegetarian”, “Vegetarian” or “Pure Vegetarian” (lacto vegetarian), and market themselves accordingly. Vegetarian restaurants abound which do not serve any kind of meat or eggs, but vegan options maybe very limited. This is because a Vegan would not like to eat anything which is of animal origin and a lot of restaurants use dairy cheese and ghee (coking oil made from milk).
According to a survey done in 2006, 31% of Indians are pure vegetarians, while another 9% consume eggs and hence can be classified as lacto ovo vegetarian. Among the various communities, vegetarianism was most common among Jains and Brahmins at 55%, and less frequent among Muslims (3%) and residents of coastal states respectively.
Other surveys cited by FAO, and USDA estimate 20%-42% of the Indian population as being vegetarian. These surveys indicate that even Indians who do eat meat do so infrequently, with less than 30% consuming it regularly, although this is often for economic rather than religious or other reasons.
India has devised a system of marking edible products made only of plant products, with a green dot in a green square. A brown dot in a brown square indicates some animal based ingredients were used. Even medicines are similarly marked: a well-known Omega-3 capsule made from flax seeds is marked with a red dot as the capsule uses non-vegetarian ingredients.
I'd like to hear from you, your views on being a lacto vegetarian. Please do share your comments and feelings about it in the comment box below.