What is a Lacto-Vegetarian Diet?

The lacto-vegetarian diet is a vegetarian diet that allows the consumption of dairy products in addition to fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Milk products are important to the diet because they are excellent sources for protein, calcium, riboflavin and other essential nutrient. Processed dairy products are also, for most people, easy to digest. In countries like Sweden, Denmark, Britain, and Australia, where life expectancy is among the highest in the world, the per capita consumption of milk and milk products is four times higher than in the United States.

This diet is the easiest to adopt and maintain long term and also the least traumatic for people who are making the transition from eating meat. But be aware that you need to watch the fat content of your diet, as many new vegetarians tend to overcompensate when they quit eating meat by eating too much dairy and cheese and fatty foods. The perils of fat are well known today. Aside from overweight, too much dietary fat will lead to high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, increased risk of stroke and heart disease, liver cirrhosis, and many other complications usually associated with a meat- centered diet.

To be safe, then, keep your fat intake below 15 percent of your diet. Do so by limiting your consumption of fatty foods, especially whole milk and cheese (cheddar cheese is the fattiest of all cheeses); nuts such as walnuts, cashews, and peanuts; mayonnaise, butter, margarine, and salad dressing. One of the problems when trying to limit your fat consumption is avoiding “disguised” fats. Peanut butter contains 50 percent fat, nuts have 60 percent, and cheese is 35 percent. Pie and ice cream contain as much as 20 percent fat.