The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Lacto-Vegetarian Diet: Benefits, Foods to Eat and Meal Plan
Like other variations of vegetarianism, a lacto-vegetarian diet can help reduce your environmental impact (1Trusted Source).
However, you should take several factors into account to ensure your diet is healthy and balanced.
This article looks at the benefits and downsides of a lacto-vegetarian diet, in addition to providing a list of foods to eat and sample meal plan.
What is a Lacto-Vegetarian Diet?
The lacto-vegetarian diet is a variation of vegetarianism that excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Unlike some other vegetarian diets, it includes certain dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, and milk.
People often adopt a lacto-vegetarian diet for environmental or ethical reasons.
Other common forms of vegetarianism include the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, ovo-vegetarian diet, and vegan diet.
The lacto-vegetarian diet is a type of vegetarianism that excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, but includes dairy products. People may choose to adopt a lacto-vegetarian diet for environmental, ethical, or health reasons.
Following a nutritious, well-rounded lacto-vegetarian diet can offer impressive health benefits.
Below are a few of the potential health benefits associated with this eating pattern.
Improves Heart Health
Multiple studies have found that lacto-vegetarian diets may improve heart health and decrease several common risk factors for heart disease.
Several other studies have found that vegetarian diets may be linked to reduced blood pressure. This is beneficial, as high blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke (4Trusted Source).
Promotes Blood Sugar Control
Some research suggests that adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet could help enhance blood sugar control.
A review of 6 studies including 255 people linked vegetarian diets to significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes (5Trusted Source).
Another review reported that following a vegetarian diet was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (6Trusted Source).
In addition, a study including more than 156,000 adults found that those who followed a lacto-vegetarian diet were 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared with those who followed non-vegetarian diets (7Trusted Source).
Supports Weight Loss
Adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet may not only be good for your health but also your waistline.
A large review of 12 studies showed that people who followed a vegetarian diet for 18 weeks lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than non-vegetarians (12Trusted Source).
May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Numerous observational studies have found that following a lacto-vegetarian diet may be associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
Notably, vegetarian diets have been linked to a 10–12% lower risk of developing cancer overall. They've likewise been linked to a reduced risk of specific types, including colorectal and breast cancer (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that these studies show an association, not a cause-effect relationship.
Further research is needed to evaluate whether following a lacto-vegetarian diet may help reduce your risk of cancer.
Studies show that following a balanced lacto-vegetarian diet may help improve heart health, promote blood sugar control, aid weight loss, and reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
A balanced lacto-vegetarian diet can supply all the nutrients your body needs.
However, without proper planning, it may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Eggs are also rich in many micronutrients, such as vitamins A and D (18Trusted Source).
A deficiency in these important nutrients can cause symptoms like stunted growth, anemia, impaired immune function, and mood changes (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
If you're following a lacto-vegetarian diet, make sure you're getting these nutrients from other food sources or supplements to meet your daily needs.
Filling your diet with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, milk products, and plant-based, protein-rich foods will help ensure you're getting the nutrients you need.
In some cases, a multivitamin or omega-3 supplement may also be necessary to help fill any gaps in your diet.
Following a lacto-vegetarian diet requires you to pay special attention to your nutrient intake. Using supplements and following a diet rich in whole foods can help you meet your daily needs and prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Foods to Eat
A healthy lacto-vegetarian diet should include a variety of plant-based foods and dairy products.
Here are some foods you can enjoy as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- Fruits: apples, oranges, berries, melons, peaches, pears, bananas
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, peppers, arugula
- Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas
- Healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil, olive oil
- Whole grains: barley, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, rice, amaranth
- Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, butter
- Protein foods: tofu, tempeh, nutritional yeast, whey, vegetarian protein powder
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, nut butters
- Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
- Herbs and spices: cumin, turmeric, basil, oregano, rosemary, pepper, thyme
A lacto-vegetarian diet can include a variety of different foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, dairy products, and protein-rich foods.
Foods to Avoid
A lacto-vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Here are some of the foods you should avoid as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- Meat: beef, pork, veal, lamb, and processed meat products like bacon, sausage, deli meat, and beef jerky
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, goose, duck, quail
- Seafood: salmon, shrimp, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, tuna
- Eggs: includes whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks
- Meat-based ingredients: gelatin, lard, suet, carmine
A lacto-vegetarian diet limits the consumption of meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and meat-based ingredients.
Sample Meal Plan
Here is a five-day sample meal plan that you can use to get started on a lacto-vegetarian diet.
- Breakfast: oatmeal with cinnamon and sliced banana
- Lunch: veggie burger with sweet potato wedges and side salad
- Dinner: bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, beans, and mixed veggies
- Breakfast: yogurt topped with walnuts and mixed berries
- Lunch: curried lentils with brown rice, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes
- Dinner: stir-fry with peppers, green beans, carrots, and sesame-ginger tofu
- Breakfast: smoothie with whey protein, veggies, fruit, and nut butter
- Lunch: chickpea pot pie with a side of roasted carrots
- Dinner: teriyaki tempeh with broccoli and couscous
- Breakfast: overnight oats with chia seeds, milk, and fresh fruit
- Lunch: burrito bowl with black beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and vegetables
- Dinner: vegetarian chili with sour cream and a side salad
- Breakfast: avocado toast with tomatoes and feta cheese
- Lunch: lentil-baked ziti with roasted asparagus
- Dinner: falafel wrap with tahini, tomatoes, parsley, onions, and lettuce
Lacto-Vegetarian Snack Ideas
Here are a few healthy snacks you can include on a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- carrots and hummus
- sliced apples with nut butter
- kale chips
- cheese and crackers
- mixed fruit with cottage cheese
- roasted edamame
- yogurt with berries
- trail mix with dark chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit
The five-day sample menu above provides some meal and snack ideas you can enjoy as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet. You can adjust any of them to fit your personal tastes and preferences.
The Bottom Line
The lacto-vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, but includes dairy products.
It may be associated with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, increased weight loss, and improved blood sugar control and heart health.
Yet, be sure to fill up on nutrient-dense, whole foods to meet your nutritional needs.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
- 3 Ways UN Leaders Can Restore the World's Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time ... ›
- Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Halt Reefs' Death Spiral ... ›
Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.
- New Drilling and Fracking in California Will Hurt Latino Communities ... ›
- First-of-Its-Kind Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air ... ›
- Environmental Negligence vs. Civil Rights: Black and Hispanic ... ›
By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
- The 7 Healthiest Types of Bread - EcoWatch ›
- This Home-Baked Bread Can Help You Rise Above Industrial Food ... ›
- How Does Sourdough Get Its Unique Flavor? - EcoWatch ›
- UN Biodiversity Chief: Humans Risk Living in an 'Empty World' With ... ›
- World Leaders Urged to 'Act Now' to Save Biodiversity - EcoWatch ›
- Why Biodiversity Loss Hurts Humans as Much as Climate Change ... ›