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A growing amount of people around the world keep to vegetarian diets for a list of health, ecological, financial, and religious reasons. There are a few different kinds of vegetarianism, including the ovo-vegetarian diet. This post explains to you everything you have to know about the ovo-vegetarian diet and includes a sample menu. 

What is an ovo-vegetarian diet? 

An ovo-vegetarian diet allows all animal-based foods besides eggs. Meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are not allowed, but whole eggs, egg whites, and egg-containing foods such as mayonnaise, egg noodles, and certain baked goods are included. Ovo-vegetarian diets are a little less popular than vegan diets, which prohibit all animal-derived foods and byproducts absolutely, as well as lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, which allow dairy products and eggs but not meat, poultry, or fish. Well-planned vegetarian diets of any kind tend to be nutritious and very healthy. Still, there are a few reasons why someone may select an ovo-vegetarian diet over other kinds. Whole eggs are both affordable and nutritious, which makes them a great addition to almost any diet. They are an excellent source of high-quality protein, B vitamins, and anti-inflammatory compounds. In fact, some people decide to include eggs in an otherwise animal-free diet if they find it hard to meet their nutrient needs on a strictly vegan diet. An ovo-vegetarian diet would also be a good pick for someone who would like to be a vegetarian but has allergies or sensitivities to dairy products. Moreover, others may pick the diet because of religious, environmental, or ethical concerns about the treatment of animals used to produce meat and dairy. Those who are motivated by these ethical issues often make sure to only eat humanely sourced eggs and egg products. 

Many potential benefits 

An ovo-vegetarian diet might benefit your health in different ways. Studies suggest that people who keep to vegetarian diets normally consume more nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, compared to non-vegetarians. They also tend to eat fewer calories from added sugars and saturated fats and are better at adhering to recommendations for sodium intake. Many specialists believe that this might be the reason why vegetarians normally have better health results than non-vegetarians, but more studying is needed before a clear cause-and-effect relationship can be established. 

If you’re seeking to create dietary alterations that benefit your heart, an ovo-vegetarian diet can be effective. Multiple researches demonstrate that vegetarians might have a 30–40% reduced risk of heart disease, compared to non-vegetarians. Besides, when coupled with regular exercise and stress management practices, vegetarian diets have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as reverse the accumulation of plaque within blood vessels.

Well-planned vegetarian diets might lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by enhancing blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. A recent analysis of 14 studies showed that vegetarians are approximately 25% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to non-vegetarians. Moreover, people who already have the condition may experience improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control on a vegetarian diet. The normally higher intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables of those on vegetarian diets seems to have a important part in diabetes prevention. More specifically, foods like dark leafy greens and root vegetables that are high in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and magnesium might have the strongest preventive effects.

Vegetarian diets are associated with a few other health and lifestyle benefits, including weight loss. Vegetarian diets are often lower in calories and might promote weight loss more effectively than omnivorous diets.

Vegetarian diets are rich in fiber and health-promoting plant compounds that can boost the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which results in better digestive function and improved immunity.

Some research demonstrates that vegetarian diets might lower cancer risk by up to 12%, though more studies are needed.

High-quality meat and dairy products can be pretty costly. So, vegetarian diets might be more affordable. Though vegetarian diets have many positive attributes, it’s vital to remember that no specific result is guaranteed. 

Possible drawbacks 

For the majority of people, an ovo-vegetarian diet is very safe and healthy. Nevertheless, you might fall short of obtaining certain essential nutrients if you don’t plan your diet accordingly. 

Getting enough protein is vital for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, organs, skin, and hair. Many non-vegetarian diets rely on meat and dairy products for protein. As an ovo-vegetarian diet excludes these foods, you need to make sure that you’re getting protein elsewhere. Eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all great protein options that are ovo-vegetarian friendly. 

Some of the most typical nutrient deficiencies in vegetarian diets include iron, calcium, zinc, omega-3 fats, and vitamins D and B12. Meat, fish, and dairy products are commonly a major source of these nutrients in non-vegetarian diets. Therefore, removing them may result in deficiencies if you’re not careful to replace them with vegetarian alternatives. Here are a few foods that can provide these nutrients as you transition to an ovo-vegetarian diet: 

Iron. Including eggs and plant-based sources of iron like lentils, soybeans, garbanzo beans, brown rice, iron-fortified cereals, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, and pistachios is a smart way to meet your iron needs.

Calcium. Regularly include foods like white beans, turnip greens, arugula, bok choy, tofu, and calcium-fortified foods in your diet to ensure adequate calcium intake.

Vitamin D. Spending time in the sun is the best way to enhance vitamin D production in your skin. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens, fortified foods, and mushrooms treated with UV light are also great sources.

Vitamin B12. Eggs are a great source of vitamin B12. The same holds true for fortified foods like milk substitutes or nutritional yeast. 

Zinc. Whole grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all good sources of zinc that are ovo-vegetarian friendly.

Omega-3 fats. Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, and walnuts are good plant-based sources of omega-3 fats. Additionally, eggs from hens that are fed omega-3-enriched feed can provide these healthy fats. 

If you notice that you’re unable to meet your needs for any of these nutrients through diet alone, consult your healthcare provider or a dietitian about taking supplements. 

Vegetarian junk foods 

Not all ovo-vegetarian-friendly foods are good for you. Dairy-free pastries, fried foods, processed vegetarian meat substitutes, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, cereals, and candies, technically fit an ovo-vegetarian lifestyle but should be consumed rarely, if at all. A healthy vegetarian diet emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods and limits refined grains, added sugars, heavily refined oils, and other ultra-processed junk foods. 

Foods to eat 

While particular foods are restricted on an ovo-vegetarian diet, you have plenty of nutrient-dense options from which to pick. A well-planned ovo-vegetarian diet is perfectly comprised of a variety of whole, plant-based foods, such as: Fruit: apples, oranges, pears, berries, bananas, pineapple, mango, grapes, avocado

Vegetables: leafy greens, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, summer and winter squash

Grains: rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, barley, oatmeal, pasta, crackers, popcorn, cereals, bread (made without milk or butter)

Legumes: soybeans, tempeh, tofu, miso, lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, peas, peanuts, pinto beans, navy beans

Nuts and seeds: walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, nut butters, flax seeds

Eggs and egg products: whole eggs, egg whites

Dairy substitutes: soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, dairy-free yogurt, dairy-free cheeses

Oils: olive, avocado, walnut, flaxseed, and coconut oils

Beverages: coffee, tea, water, mineral water, non-dairy milks 

Keep in mind that just because a food is vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s good for you. To get the health advantages of an ovo-vegetarian diet, it’s essential to concentrate on whole, minimally processed foods as much as possible. 

Foods to avoid 

The main foods to avoid on an ovo-vegetarian diet are meats and dairy products, but particular meat-based food additives should be excluded as well. If you’re transitioning to an ovo-vegetarian diet, avoid the following: 

Red meat: beef, lamb, pork

Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck

Fish and shellfish

Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese, butter

Baked goods: breads and pastries made with milk or butter

Meat- and dairy-derived food additives: gelatin, lard, carmine, casein, whey

Other items: animal-based broths, pâté, fish sauce, certain omega-3 supplements, non-dairy creamer, Caesar dressing

You may find vegetarian alternatives for many of these foods. Still, keep in mind that these substitutes may not always be nutritionally equivalent. For instance, most dairy-free milk alternatives don’t provide the same amounts of protein and minerals as regular cow’s milk. This doesn’t make them a bad option per se, but it’s worth considering if your goal is to build a nutritionally complete vegetarian diet. 

Sample menu 

While nutritional needs and dietary preferences may differ, here’s an example of what five days on an ovo-vegetarian diet may look like. 

Monday 

Breakfast: coconut-chia pudding with frozen berries and walnuts

Lunch: lentil vegetable stew with flax crackers

Dinner: tofu-vegetable stir fry with brown rice 

Tuesday 

Breakfast: whole-grain toast with braised greens and poached eggs

Lunch: hummus-and-vegetable sandwich wrap with a side of berries

Dinner: quinoa bowl with black beans, nutritional yeast, mixed greens, guacamole, and salsa 

Wednesday 

Breakfast: green smoothie made with spinach, hemp protein powder, cashew milk, almond butter, bananas, ginger, and avocado

Lunch: egg-salad sandwich on whole-grain bread

Dinner: spicy peanut noodles with edamame, purple cabbage, and cilantro 

Thursday 

Breakfast: oatmeal with fresh fruit, hemp seeds, and slivered almonds

Lunch: leftover peanut noodles

Dinner: smoky tempeh with roasted vegetables and vegetarian mushroom risotto 

Friday 

Breakfast: egg-and-vegetable scramble with a side of fresh fruit

Lunch: white bean, kale, and tomato soup with whole-grain toast

Dinner: cauliflower-and-chickpea tacos with cilantro-lime cashew cream sauce 

Article byDemi Powell