A lacto vegetarian (sometimes referred to as a lactarian; from the Latin root lact-, milk) diet is a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ghee, cream, and kefir, but excludes eggs. Lacto-vegetarians also abstain from cheeses that include animal rennet and yogurts that contain gelatin. The concept and practice of lacto-vegetarianism among a significant number of people comes from ancient India and was originally based on religious beliefs.
Lacto-vegetarian diets are popular with many followers of the Eastern religious traditions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. The cores of their beliefs are behind a lacto-vegetarian diet is the law of ahimsa, or non-violence. According to the Vedas, (Hindu holy scriptures), all living beings are equally valued. Also, Hindus believe that one's personality is affected by the kind of food one consumes, and eating flesh is considered bad for one's spiritual/mental well-being. It takes many more vegetables or plants to produce an equal amount of meat, many more lives are destroyed, and in this way more suffering is caused when meat is consumed. In the case of Jainism, the vegetarian standards are even more strict. It allows the consumption of only fruit and leaves that can be taken from plants without causing their death. This further excludes from the diet vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic. Although some suffering and pain is inevitably caused to other living beings to satisfy the human need for food, according to ahimsa, every effort should be made to minimize suffering. This is to avoid karmic consequences and show respect for living things. In this sense, wastage of food is considered a sin. Because all living beings are equally valued in these traditions, a vegetarian diet rooted in ahimsa is only one aspect of environmentally conscious living, relating to those beings affected by our need for food. Environmentalism and vegetarianism are often practiced together.
Lacto-vegetarians and vegans
One of the main differences between a vegan and a lacto vegetarian diet is the avoidance of dairy products. Ethical vegans do not consume dairy because they state that their production causes the animal suffering and/or a premature death.
- Sentient foods
- Lacto-ovo vegetarianism
- Ovo vegetarianism
- VeggieBoards, a vegetarian forum
- Spencer, Colin: The Heretic’s Feast. A History of Vegetarianism, London: Fourth Estate 1993, p. 69–84. ISBN 1-85702-078-2.
- Some background to 'vegetarian' and 'vegan'
- Religious Vegetarianism, ed. Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Albany 2001, p. 50-52.
- Bhagavad Gita 5.18 "The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]."
- Animals in Hinduism, second paragraph
- U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat
- Gabriel Cousens, Spiritual Nutrition: Six Foundations for Spiritual Life and the Awakening of Kundalini, North Athlantic Books, page 251
- Many environmentalists are vegetarian.
- Maneka Gandhi and Ahimsa
- Erik Marcus (2000). Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating.
- Nutrition Information
- The Vegetarian Resource Group
- Vegetarian Pages
- 20 Questions About Vegetarianism
- International Vegetarian Union
- Online community for Vegetarians
- Lacto-vegetarian menu items and products