What is an Ovo Vegetarian

The number of people opting for a vegetarian diet has jumped significantly in recent decades, and variations among vegetarians have arisen, depending upon the type of diet they consume.

One such type is an ovo vegetarian. In this article we take a closer look at what is an ovo vegetarian, including what they eat, benefits of this specific type of vegetarianism, and more!

What is an Ovo Vegetarian?

An ovo vegetarian is someone who eats a vegetarian diet, including eggs and egg-based products, for instance, mayonnaise.

The motivation behind maintaining an ovo vegetarian diet is essentially the treatment of animals. Ovo vegetarians believe that the dairy industry practices are cruel and shouldn't be supported. Therefore, they exclude all dairy products from their diet.

Furthermore, they also have strict criteria for consuming eggs. They'll consume eggs only if they have been produced under safe and cruel-free conditions. Moreover, some ovo vegetarians choose this route because of health concerns such as lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, etc.

So, if you want to enjoy all the health benefits of a plant-based diet without saying goodbye to eggs, ovo-vegetarianism is your best bet

What is a Lacto Ovo Vegetarian?

Lacto means dairy products, and ovo means eggs. So, Lacto ovo vegetarians take one step ahead of ovo vegetarians and include dairy products in their diet, besides eggs. They avoid animal slaughter food but continue to consume dairy and eggs since they believe that's harmless to animals.

There is a consistent myth associated with Lacto ovo vegetarians that they consume less protein than what is required. But the truth is, a review back in 2019 showed the protein consumption of vegetarians to be 1.04 gm per kg body weight, which is above the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.8 gm per kg bodyweight.

However, there is still a risk of Lacto ovo vegetarians not eating nutrients in the right proportion and eating an unbalanced diet. Younger children and breastfeeding women should consult a dietician before pursuing a vegetarian diet, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the US Department of Agriculture, USDA.

Usually, there is a lack of vitamin B, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids in vegetarian diets, especially older people who might have restricted access to essential nutrients.

What is a Pesco-Ovo-Vegetarian?

Pesco-ovo-vegetarians include seafood in their diets, alongside eating eggs and egg-based products. You can call it a semi-vegetarian diet because it involves some meat. Adding meat makes it easier to meet your nutritional requirements than with a purely plant-based diet.

It is a healthy diet if you eat everything in the right proportion and do not skip certain nutrients. Vegetarian diets might lack protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, etc. However, a pesco-ovo-vegetarian diet counters this deficiency by introducing fish and other seafood.

What do Ovo Vegetarians Eat?

An ovo vegetarian diet includes plant-based products, eggs, and egg-based products. However, meat and meat-based products are off the table in an ovo vegetarian diet. Many assume without evidence that an ovo vegetarian diet naturally lacks some important nutrients.

That is a baseless assumption. Since their diet is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, ovo-vegetarianism has a ton of health benefits. However, ovo vegetarians who do not plan their diet properly and do not take nutrients in the right proportion might end up with the deficiency of one kind or another.

Moreover, it is wrong to assume that an ovo vegetarian diet lacks variety. Ovo vegetarians eat the most colorful diet with several vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc., on their plates.

Here’s what the diet of a typical ovo vegetarian consists of:

  • Vegetarian protein: tofu, tempeh, vegetarian protein powder, seitan
  • Healthy fats: avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, olive oil
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, peaches, strawberries, and the like
  • Vegetables: mushrooms, eggplant, bell pepper, broccoli, kale
  • Eggs: whole eggs
  • Dairy substitutes: almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, dairy-free cheese
  • Oils: walnut, flaxseed, avocado, coconut, and olive
  • Beverages: tea, water, coffee, tea
  • Beans and legumes: beans, lentils, peas, peanuts
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, peanut butter

As you see, an ovo vegetarian diet offers all the essential nutrients if it is taken in the right proportions. So, how to ensure that you are eating the right nutrients in adequate amounts? For that, knowing the sources of these nutrients is important.

Let us discuss the sources of some important nutrients that you can get from an ovo vegetarian diet:

Zinc

The first thing to know about zinc is that it is an essential nutrient our body doesn't produce. This means you have to take it from food sources or different supplements. It is crucial for the functioning of 300 enzymes in our body that aid digestion, nerve function, and multiple other processes.

Zinc is also important for the functioning of immune cells and plays a fundamental role in skin health and protein production in your body. 

And that's not all. Zinc is essential for our growth as it is fundamental for cell growth and division.

Given below are some of the ovo vegetarian sources of zinc:

  • Different types of seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin, peanuts, tahini, cashews, hemp seeds, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, etc. Their respective butter, such as peanut butter, tahini butter, etc., also provides good amounts of zinc.
  • Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, kidney beans, etc.
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and the like.
  • Some vegetables, including mushrooms, asparagus, beet greens, kale, peas, etc.

Protein

Protein is another crucial nutrient for us to live a healthy life. It is known as the building block of our body, as it breaks down into amino acids, which fuel important functions in our body. These functions include immune system responses, blood clotting, vision, hormones, enzymes, etc.

Protein makes up our hair, skin, and muscle and our survival without it is impossible. For millions, meat is the primary protein source. 

However, ovo vegetarians don't have that luxury.  

Similarly, ovo vegetarians cannot use dairy products, which is another barrier. Therefore, ovo vegetarians have to look elsewhere for adequate protein intake.

If vegetarians do not add enough protein to their diet, it can potentially lead to serious health issues. So, here are some quality vegetarian sources of protein for an ovo vegetarian:

  • Different types of seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin, peanuts, tahini, cashews, hemp seeds, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, etc. Their respective butter, such as peanut butter, tahini butter, etc., also provides good amounts of zinc.
  • Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, kidney beans, etc.
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and the like.
  • Some vegetables, including mushrooms, asparagus, beet greens, kale, peas, etc.

Iron

Iron is another crucial nutrient for our body that we need in moderate amounts. Too much or too little iron causes several liver problems, heart problems, and iron deficiency anemia.

Iron is essentially responsible for transporting oxygen throughout your body from the lungs to other tissues by binding to a protein called hemoglobin.

Vegetarians need more iron than their meat-eating peers because of the lack of meat in their diet. Moreover, it is also advised for vegetarians to eat more vitamin C because it has been shown to enhance iron absorption. So, binge on your favorite citrus fruits and other plants containing vitamin C, such as broccoli, potato, mango, kiwis, and some vegetables.

Here are some good ovo vegetarian sources of iron for you:

  • All types of beans and peas, such as red beans, chickpeas, edamame beans, etc.
  • Wholemeal pasta and bread
  • Garbanzo, brown rice, etc.
  • All kinds of lentils.
  • All dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, silverbeet, etc.
  • Cereals and iron-fortified bread
  • Soy and soy products such as tofu and soy milk.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that provides us with many health benefits. Since they are essential nutrients, your body doesn't produce them. So, the only way for you to get them is through food.

They have immense importance for our brain and retina. Moreover, pregnant women must take adequate amounts of it for the baby to have good health and intelligence. 

There is also some indication that Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect you against different illnesses such as ADHDmild hypertension, etc.

Although fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, ovo vegetarians cannot eat it. So they must look for alternative omega-3 fatty acid sources in a plant-based diet. Some excellent Omega-3 fatty acid sources for ovo vegetarians are given below:

  • All nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts
  • Different plant oils such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil
  • Eggs from hen fed with an omega-3 diet
  • Soy and soy-based products such as soy milk

Do Ovo Vegetarians Eat Fish?

Ovo vegetarians avoid fish because their diet is completely meat-free. They believe eating animals, including fish, is cruel, and the meat industry treats animals inhumanely. However, Pesco vegetarians do eat fish and other seafood.

Is it Healthy to be an Ovo Vegetarian?Science-backed Evidence

Like every diet, the ovo vegetarian diet has its benefits and downsides. However, its benefits trump its drawbacks, which we will discuss here.

Benefits of Ovo Vegetarian Diet

An ovo vegetarian diet has multiple health benefits, established by different scientific studies. They include:

Prevents Type 2 Diabetes

Consuming an ovo vegetarian diet reduces your risk of developing type 2 Diabetes. This is because of the intake of healthy food and cutting down meat, trans fat, and saturated fat consumption.

What's more, a plant-based diet is high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also decreases A1c, helping your body control blood sugar in the long term.

Helps with Weight Loss

Since a fiber-rich plant diet prevents you from overeating by making you feel full, an ovo vegetarian diet can help maintain your weight, lose it, and prevent obesity.

In fact, a large study involving 38,000 people revealed that vegetarians had a lower body mass index (BMI) than omnivorous peers. Higher BMI was noted to result from high protein and low fiber intake, indicating that a high fiber diet may help with weight loss.

Beneficial for Heart Health

Eating meat, refined carbs, and certain fats can clog your arteries and cause heart problems. By switching to a vegetarian diet and limiting your meat consumption, you can prevent a ton of heart problems.

A plant-based diet can improve the blood flow to your heart, lower blood pressure, and improve blood vessel functioning. All of these factors can significantly improve your heart health.

Lowers Cancer Risk

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can reduce cancer risk. Vegetarian diets can counter cancer risks, as shown by a review of 96 studies. The studies showed that vegetarians have an 8% lower risk of dying from cancer than meat-eaters.

Improves Gut Health

Since plante are a rich source of fiber, this promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. This can enhance your digestion, boost your immunity and improve your gut health.

Better Diet

Vegetarians are usually more health-conscious about their food choices than non-vegetarians. They eat more nutrient-dense foods than omnivores, such as legumes, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Additionally, vegetarians also consume less saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars which reduces their overall caloric intake, improving their health.

Downsides of an Ovo Vegetarian Diet

Although vegetarian diets offer many health benefits, there are some important considerations you should keep in mind.

The Need for Supplements

The biggest problem vegetarians face is the deficiency of protein in their diet. Moreover, the lack of zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids is also a concern. To fulfill these deficiencies, you might need supplements. However, you can overcome this problem by properly planning your diet and including every nutrient as mentioned previously.

Processed Diet

There is a large variety of plant-based diets from which you can choose. However, there is a significant amount of processed ovo vegetarian foods in the market which are high in sugar and unhealthy fats. Make sure you read the ingredient list carefully before spending your money.

What are the Pros & Cons of Ovo-Vegetarianism?

Pros
  • You eat whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc., as part of an ovo vegetarian diet. Most people don't pay enough attention to these foods and fail to take adequate nutrients. Therefore, ovo vegetarians are better positioned to fight different diseases than meat-eaters since their diet is full of essential nutrients from plant-based foods.
  • An ovo vegetarian diet can help you cut down on your food bill, but it ultimately depends upon the type of foods you choose. Eating an ovo vegetarian diet means you're not consuming fast food, which will save you tons of money. Moreover, grains, legumes, lentils, etc., can be bought for cheap rates in bulk, cutting overall costs.
  • There is no denying that an ovo vegetarian diet has an immensely positive impact on the environment. Growing cattle and feeding it for years is resource-intensive and consumes lots of water and land.
  • Jungles are cut down to grow food for animals, later slaughtered for meat. Cows produce a lot of greenhouse gasses, due to which many have completely abandoned eating meat. Growing vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains are more sustainable and require fewer resources.
  • Usually, plant foods have fewer calories, something crucial for losing weight or maintaining it. Meat-eaters generally eat a lot of things that are packed with calories and saturated fat, such as fast food, fried food, etc. Ovo vegetarians don't have these problems as they typically opt for healthier options. As a result, an ovo vegetarian is in a much better position to lose weight than a meat-eater.
Cons
  • Ovo vegetarians have to put extra effort into their diet plan because of the risk of nutrient deficiency. A meat-eater can easily consume enough nutrients by adding more meat, but it's not that simple for vegetarians. Therefore, an ovo vegetarian needs a well-rounded diet to ensure they take in every nutrient such as zinc, vitamin B-12, protein, Omega-3, etc.
  • Foods that are higher in fat and protein are usually more satiating. So, with an ovo vegetarian diet, you might not feel satiated. Carbohydrate-rich foods are digested quickly, making your tummy demand more food sooner than if you eat meat.
  • A vegetarian diet can be less convenient than a meat-based one. For instance, you need to read the ingredients on food items every time you buy them so that they don't contain undesirable ingredients such as gelatin, casein, etc.
  • Similarly, dining out also becomes tougher because only a few restaurants offer quality meat-free options.

What is an Ovo Vegetarian Meal Plan?

Being an ovo vegetarian, you have numerous combinations for your meal plans. So, what can you eat to stay healthy without compromising your nutritional requirements? Given below is a sample meal plan for you. However, feel free to check other meal plans and decide what suits you best.

Breakfast

Kickstart your day by preparing a delicious coconut chia pudding and adding walnuts and frozen berries on top.

OR

Power your morning with a whole grain toast and poached eggs.

OR

If you're not keen on eating anything, prepare a smoothie with almond milk, bananas, kale, and berries.

Lunch

Fuel your day by preparing a delicious and nutritious salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and lentil soup (spiced, if you want).

OR

Prepare sweet potato fried in olive oil and with grilled vegetables.

OR

Prepare a bowl filled with goodness from rice, beans, salsa, and veggies.

Dinner

Make yourself a delicious chickpea curry with basmati rice for a good sleep.

OR

Grill some vegetables of your choice and enjoy them with a salad

OR

Prepare brown rice with pickled slaw.

The Bottom Line

More people are switching to a vegetarian diet than ever before. Quitting meat is no longer an option for them, as they consider it a necessity for various reasons such as environmental protection, health benefits, and ethical considerations.


On the surface, an ovo vegetarian diet might seem tough to sustain, but it comes with multiple health benefits. You don't have to worry about not getting enough protein as a plant-based diet has enough alternatives. Moreover, people are coming up with innovative solutions, such as plant-based meat which can be as delicious and nutritious as the original thing.


You will find hundreds of delicious ovo-vegetarian recipes on the internet with a single click to kickstart your plant-based journey today.

About the Author Lillian

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