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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Kickstart your day by preparing a delicious coconut chia pudding and adding walnuts and frozen berries on top.
Power your morning with a whole grain toast and poached eggs.
If you're not keen on eating anything, prepare a smoothie with almond milk, bananas, kale, and berries.
Fuel your day by preparing a delicious and nutritious salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and lentil soup (spiced, if you want).
Prepare sweet potato fried in olive oil and with grilled vegetables.
Prepare a bowl filled with goodness from rice, beans, salsa, and veggies.
Make yourself a delicious chickpea curry with basmati rice for a good sleep.
Grill some vegetables of your choice and enjoy them with a salad
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.