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Cereal, milkshake, creamed corn, crepe— there’s one thing common in all of these foods: milk. The dairy product, made by cows, is a creamy delight many of us can drink without a simple thought. A bedtime staple for some, you might wonder what it’s like to be unable to drink it. 

On one side of the food spectrum are vegetarians. A vegetarian lifestyle simply involves not eating meat. Milk is not meat but is also not a vegetable which garners the “veg” part of the word “vegetarian”. This article digs into what vegetarians are and what the means for the famous dairy product. 

What Can Vegetarians Eat and Drink?

can vegetarians drink milk

Vegetarians are defined but what they eat: vegetables. A big part of their diet consists of plant-based foods. There are lots of salads, rice meals, vegetarian substitutes for meat, and the like. Many prefer to drink water, fruit juices, and tea. 

A vegetarian lifestyle is chosen because of religious practices, ethics, and concern for the treatment of animals, or health reasons. In this case, if you choose to approach drinking milk from the angle of your reason for being vegetarian then this can help dictate what you can eat and drink. 

For example, those who are animal welfare advocates may find that eating or drinking milk from conflict-free sources is allowed. Another example would be religion. Some religions lean more towards only eating food that has been made from plants. As such, they would need to be more thoughtful in only choosing food that comes under this category. 

At the baseline, plants are what all vegetarians can eat. The strictness of one’s vegetarian diet and eating beyond veggie-based foods depends on the type of vegetarian you are or will choose to be. The following section discusses these types and you can match them with your reasons for wanting to or needing to shift to the lifestyle. 

What Are the Types of Vegetarians?

The broad definition of vegetarianism means not eating meat which includes fish and poultry. There are semi-vegetarian diets that include dairy products in various degrees:

  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarians can eat plant-based food, dairy products, and eggs.
  • Lacto vegetarians can eat vegetables and fruits, and dairy products. However, they do not eat eggs. 
  • Ovo vegetarians don’t drink or eat dairy products but can eat eggs.
  • Vegans do not eat any dairy, eggs, or any other products that are created by or from animals such as gelatin and honey. 

Effects of Drinking Milk

can vegetarians drink milk

If you are thinking of becoming a vegetarian but don’t know what kind you would like to be yet, consider some of the advantages and disadvantages one gets when they can drink milk. 

Strong Bones

The first thing that most babies drink is milk. That comes with many of its reasons but one is for stable and strong bones. Kids are often the target of milk commercials and are the reason why many dairy products on the market were made. As you age you might find all the fuss about milk die down but that doesn’t mean adults don’t benefit from it. 

A myth goes that drinking milk reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that makes the bones weak and prone to breaking. A meta-analysis of osteoporosis and its relation to milk, published in 2019, revealed that there is not much of a connection between drinking milk and reduced risk to osteoporosis. This can all be very confusing but the bottom line is that even if milk can make your bones stronger that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can prevent osteoporosis’ harmful effects on your skeletal system. 

Acne on Your Skin? 

The American Academy of Dermatology Association states that low-glycemic foods like cow’s milk can reduce acne… However, one of these low-glycemic foods— milk causes breakouts. If you’re looking to have your face clean and free of pimples you might want to cut off dairy products. 

Strong Teeth

Milk does have lots of calcium and drinking it can reduce the risk of tooth decay or cavities should you also pair drinking milk with the act of consistent tooth brushing. Calcium itself can be absorbed by the body if you have some vitamin D in it too. If you plan to drink milk as a Lacto vegetarian or Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, then make sure to have it fortified with vitamin D or eat foods rich in it to get the effects of the calcium. 

What Are Some Plant-Based Milk Alternatives? 

You can try a variety of options such as cappuccinos made from coffee beans, almond milk, soy milk, and the like. For some of your favorite creamy desserts, try recreating those with silken tofu instead. Vegan stores also sell vegan butter, yogurt, and cheese if you want to try those alternatives to mix in with meals.


Can vegetarians drink milk? Only you can be a judge of that! It all depends on why you chose to be a vegetarian and what kind of vegetarian you are or will be. The effects milk can have on your health differ. Lactose intolerant friends might give you a high five even. Weigh the options and see for yourself if you should or shouldn’t drink that glass of milk. 

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