Beef is what’s for dinner, and pork is the other white meat, but lamb should be the feature on your plate that takes the cake. Growing up in a family that raises sheep for both wool and meat, I continually find myself shocked that none of my friends have eaten lamb and I continually have to remind myself just how fortunate I am. I’ve grown up eating lamb, and count it as part of my favorite dishes. Lamb chops, roast, legs of lamb, ribs, lamb burger, and even heart (yes, heart!) salad have all been staples on my plate. And, to imagine that only one or two of my friends has even tried lamb and that it was probably mutton just about breaks my heart. There are many great reasons to eat lamb, and you should add it to your weekly menu as soon as possible.
The first reason is it tastes great! I will agree with the next guy when he says he doesn’t like mutton (the meat of an old, adult sheep). It is a fact that mutton carries an overwhelming, musky taste that is a real turnoff to new lamb eaters, but if you eat a piece of nice young lamb, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better. Lamb is the second most popular meat in the world, behind goat meat of all things, and billions of people can’t be wrong! It has a strong and natural taste, but that is part of the appeal. This makes lamb a great addition to the American meat supply that we are continually making more and more bland with a homogenous supply of beef and chicken. Because of its strong taste, lamb is a very versatile statement piece in any dish and many recipes are available all over the Internet.
Lamb is also very healthy! The meat has little of the marbling that gives beef its flavor (and bad name), making it a leaner source of protein. In layman’s terms, lamb gives you all the benefits of a high protein diet without all the calories. According to an American Sheep Industry report, “three ounces of lamb contains 23 grams of protein and 175 calories, while six tablespoons of peanut butter contains 25 grams of protein but 564 calories.” Besides this, lamb is low in cholesterol and is also easier to digest compared to other red meat.
This brings us to our next point. Lamb is natural! Overwhelmingly, sheep are grass-fed. Its palatability as a low cholesterol, high protein meat, helps with the important absorption of various vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. High concentrations of iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-12, niacin, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a very important fatty acid hyped by holistic, natural types, are found in lamb, largely due to its grass-fed nature. Animal protein, according to the American Sheep Industry, does a better job of supplying essential amino acids than plant proteins. And, not to seem too antagonistic, because my family also raises a handful of cattle, but the American Lamb Board argues that a three ounce serving of lamb has almost five times as much ALA as the same size piece of beef, meaning lamb could have more bang for its buck when it comes to health benefits. Nevertheless, I do understand that lamb is expensive compared to chicken or beef, but in the health food’s world, paying more isn’t unusual, and as holistic living has become more mainstream, it has become more accessible, and we have seen prices go down on organic and natural foods.
On top of these great benefits of eating lamb, if you served it at your next house party, I bet that your friends will be more than impressed. Lamb can make you look fancy, even though it should be a main feature on the American dinner table. Since so few people eat it regularly, lamb has become something of a novelty. Start serving it, and you will look like a master chef. Start serving it regularly, and you will realize it is not a novelty but just something that’s been missing from your life.
American lamb is truly a solution to our dietary questions. It can fill in the gaps of our diets left by a uniform meat supply of beef, chicken, and pork that leaves much to be desired. More information and recipes that will only add to this introduction can be found online at the American Sheep Industry website: www.sheepusa.org, the American Lamb Board site: www.americanlamb.com, and various other places. But, don’t just look into lamb, dig into it, and enjoy!
Eat lamb; wear wool!