An ovo-lacto vegetarian (or lacto-ovo vegetarian) is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume dairy and egg products. In contrast, a vegetarian who consumes no animal products at all is called a vegan. Veganism even excludes animal products found in clothes, such as wool, fur, and other animal based products.
The terminology stems from the Latin lacto meaning "milk", ovo meaning "egg", and the English term vegetarian (see Etymology of vegetarianism for the etymology of "vegetarian"), so as giving the definition of a vegetarian diet containing milk and eggs.
In the Western world lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common type of vegetarian. Generally speaking, when one uses the term vegetarian a lacto-ovo vegetarian is assumed. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are often well-catered to in restaurants and shops, especially in some parts of Europe and metropolitan cities in North America. In the airline industry, a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal is known by the acronym VLML (for Vegetarian, Lacto-ovo MeaL).
Lacto-ovo vegetarianism is often motivated by ethics, since eggs and dairy products do not directly require the slaughter of animals. However, since eggs and milk are only produced by female chickens and cows, commercial food producers will often engage in the practice of sexing, whereby males are either slaughtered immediately (typical for chickens) or raised for meat (more common for cattle). Furthermore, both dairy cattle and egg-laying hens are slaughtered when they leave the period of peak productivity, which is typically much shorter than their natural lifespan.
Many Seventh-day Adventists or Yi Guan Dao followers are lacto-ovo vegetarians. For over 130 years, Seventh-day Adventists have recommended a vegetarian diet which may include milk products and eggs. Not all Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians choose to embrace this diet because of religion, though. It is often just a matter of animal rights, or even for health reasons.
Economic vegetarianism · Environmental vegetarianism · Ethics of eating meat · History of vegetarianism · List of vegans · List of vegetarians · Vegetarianism by country
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