7 Foods to Avoid on the Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet

Following the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet can be a great way to improve your health; however, when becoming a lacto-ovo vegetarian, there are certain foods you should try to avoid.

As with other vegetarian diets, lacto-ovo vegetarians eat a variety of plant-based foods while avoiding meats. However lacto-ovo vegetarians do consume eggs, milk and milk products (such as cheese and yogurt). Although lacto-ovo vegetarians eat more liberally than other types of vegetarians, there are certain foods to avoid when following the diet.

1. Red Meat, Fish and Poultry

Lacto-ovo vegetarians omit all meat, fish and poultry from their diet. Since meats are typically high in protein, iron, vitamin B12 and zinc, those nutrients will need to be consumed from other food sources or supplementation. However, since milk, eggs and cheeses contain vitamin B12, lacto-ovo vegetarians have an easier time meeting B12 requirements than other types of vegetarians.

2. Gelatin

Gelatin is typically made from meat by-products which vegetarians try to avoid. Foods that may contain gelatin include gummy candies, marshmallows, gelatin desserts and some types of yogurt. Make sure to check the label on foods, such as low-fat yogurt, to make sure gelatin is not listed as an ingredient.

3. High-Fat Dairy Products

Since lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy products in their diet, it’s important to limit dairy foods that are high in saturated fat to help maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for certain diseases (such as heart disease).

Although dairy products such as cheese contain significant amounts of protein, they also can be high in saturated fat. Choose low-fat varieties of cheese such as part-skim mozzarella or other reduced-fat varieties (check your food labels). Drink skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or whole milk. Choose low-fat cottage cheese (1 or 2 % fat instead of 4% fat) and low-fat or fat-free yogurt (check the food label of yogurt for the ingredient gelatin). Instead of cooking with butter, use olive or canola oils which are high in healthy fats and low in saturated fat.

4. Lard

Since lard is made from pig fat, vegetarians omit it from their diet. The problem is that some foods contain lard as an ingredient, so read your food labels carefully. Foods that contain lard include shortening used in baking (especially in pie crusts), some pastries, certain fried foods,and some brands of refried beans.

5. Some Broth-Based Soups

Since many soup broths are made from chicken or beef stock, vegetarians should look for soups containing vegetable-based broths. Also look for vegetarian bouillon cubes.

6. Meat-Based Gravies

Many gravies are made from meat-based broths, but there are vegetarian gravies available made with roasted or boiled vegetables (or other vegetable juices).

7. Some Types of Supplements

Many omega-3 supplements contain fish oils, which are not only omitted from lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, but can contain unknown amounts of mercury. Choose supplements wisely and consult your health care provider before taking any type of supplement.


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