Sometimes, vegetarians can be a peculiar lot, can’t they? If you have never lived around one, you are probably wondering just how bland a life without lamb chops and sizzling bacon can be. And why do it at all? Some vegetarians are motivated by taste, others by animal rights. Yet, even among vegetarians there are sub-sects, including vegans, pescetarians, and lacto-ovo vegetarians. In the general public, vegetarianism tends to refer to lacto ovo vegetarians, a type of vegetarianism that forbids meat and fish, but allows milk (Latin “Lacto”), eggs (Latin “ovo”) and other dairy products. Some may also choose to wear leather.
According to numerous studies, a plant-based diet is better for the environment and resources, as it maximizes land-use efficiency. Unless they are organic, animal husbandry and factory farms are dedicated to maximizing productivity, which means cramped, inhumane conditions. The meat industry is also a heavy contributor to climate change. (climate is not actually changing….but we can talk politics another day) Of the total green house gas emissions, about 18 % is from the meat-producing industry, according to a landmark 2006 study published by the UN. However, a more recent study argued that this underestimated the true problem. In 2009, a paper published by a respected US think tank, the Worldwatch Institute states that the true amount of greenhouse gases released by animal farming is much higher or about 51 % of the world total.
Why lacto ovo is better than veganism
There is no denying that becoming a vegan is a real sacrifice which requires constant effort and planning. While there are vegan restaurants, these aren’t a dime a dozen, and you may have to make a special effort if you want to eat out. There can also be special requirements regarding nutrition. For example, animal products are the best sources of vitamin B12; plants don’t have any of this vitamin.
A lacto ovo vegetarian does not run into these same issues because milk and eggs contain vitamin B12. Another potential problem for vegans is iron, however iron is found in milk and eggs so this isn’t a problem for the lacto ovo vegetarians.
Are you still a vegetarian if you are a lacto ovo vegetarian?
These days flexibility is the watchword when it comes to vegetarians. There are pescetarians – those who don’t eat meat, but eat fish. There are flexitarians ( I thought that was a sexual term): those who define themselves as vegetarian, but occasionally eat meat. There are the semivegetarians – those who eat meat with fewer than half their meals.
While some vegetarians believe the growing terminology indicates laxity — an indifferent acceptance of a lack of commitment to the cause — others view it as acknowledgement of the importance of responding to the diversity of human need. In such an environment, lacto ovo vegetarians represent the middle ground. They are ethically conscious, as they abstain from meat and generally from leather too. However, the eggs and milk allows them to more easily obtain the necessary nutrition. The lacto ovo vegetarians are still committed to the bounty of the “kingdom plantae,” however they acknowledge that because of their own sensibilities or the importance of nutrition, they will still eat dairy.
Tips to becoming a vegetarian
- Cut back: Reduce your consumption of meat and fish in general. Your body might have a hard time adjusting if you simply quit meat cold turkey. Or you might endlessly crave it. Or you might also be absolutely fine going vegetarian straight away. If in doubt, listen to your bod, and take your time.
- Meal Plan: the best way to make sure you get a balanced nutritious diet is to meal plan. Most vegetarian cookbooks will offer balanced meals that cater to all your nutritional needs.
- Look for substitutions: There are other foods that provide filling protein, such as tofu. Tofu is amazingly versatile food and can absorb a lot of flavor. It can marinated, fried, smoked, or eaten raw with ginger, and there are many recipes to prevent it tasting like bland white cubes. Tempeh is another meat substitute that can be used instead of meat in your favorite recipes.
- Take a multivitamin. If you’re worried about not getting enough protein, or vitamin B12 or other minerals in your diet, a multivitamin is good way to start. Look for those that are specially tailored to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
The lacto ovo vegetarian is a way of lowering your footprint on the planet while maintaining good nutrition. Meat is a huge contributor to climate change and other environmental concerns. Overfishing has caused the collapse of many marine ecosystems. The lacto ovo vegetarian takes action on these issues by demonstrating one’s principles through healthy and ethical eating. If you are worried that it will be hard, you can always cut back on meat and fish before eliminating it completely from your diet.