Most livestock animals are raised for multiple purposes. Sheep are no different. Raising sheep means that we get wool, of course, but we also get meat. One of the most popular products we take from sheep is meat from lambs.
Lamb and pork happen to be two meats that are sometimes compared in terms of flavor and texture.
However, despite the similarities, they are from two entirely different animals. This often leads to the question: Is lamb considered pork?
No, lamb is not considered pork. Lamb meat comes from young sheep up to a year old, and has its own classification, just called “lamb”. Pork is entirely distinct, and comes from pigs.
This is an issue that people are surprisingly confused over, but in a way it is easy to see why: The two meats are sometimes prepared in ways that lead to similarities in texture and flavor, but they are nonetheless quite different, too.
I’ll tell you more about lamb and where it fits into the world of meats in this article.
Is Lamb the Same as Mutton?
Lamb and mutton are two terms sometimes used interchangeably to describe any meat combing form sheep, but this is not entirely accurate.
The two are actually quite different in a number of ways.
Firstly, lamb and mutton do both come from sheep. However, the difference in the age of the animal when the meat is harvested is what qualifies them.
A lamb is a sheep that is less than a year old, and the meat from any sheep that is a lamb is called lamb. Mutton is meat from any sheep that is over a year old.
Well, technically older than two years because meat taken from a 1 to 2 year old sheep is called hogget, but you will rarely see this term in the West.
Anyways, it is this age difference that results in reclassification and also in distinct differences in taste and texture between the two meats.
When it comes to flavor, lamb is often preferred overall, and is described as being milder, sweeter, and more tender than mutton.
This makes it a popular choice for dishes that require a subtle flavor, such as stews and curries. On the other hand, mutton has a notably stronger, richer flavor that is sometimes described as gamey or earthy, more akin to wild animals harvested for their meat.
This makes it a dependable choice for dishes that require a bold flavor, and it can make for fine roasts or chops.
Mutton, typically, is tougher and requires more cooking time to become tender. However, the longer cooking time can also result in a deeper and more complex flavor.
Another key difference between lamb and mutton is the nutritional content. Both are comparable, but mutton is generally higher in fat and calories than lamb, which can make it a less healthy option for some diets and lifestyles.
However, mutton is also higher in certain nutrients such as iron and zinc, which can be beneficial for anyone who is deficient in these minerals.
Whether you prefer the milder flavor and tender texture of lamb, or the bolder, richer flavor of mutton, both have their place in your kitchen- assuming you like sheep meat.
Is Lamb Considered White Meat?
No. Lamb is considered red meat.
Lamb is sometimes erroneously considered to be white meat due to its association with pork as described above, or maybe because it is thought to be healthier than other red meats. Or maybe because labs are often “white as snow.”
If you look at a cut of lamb and a cut of beef side by side, you will see that both are ruby red and appear very similar.
What Makes Red Meat, Red Meat?
“Red meat” refers to meat that is darker in color, due to the presence of a protein called myoglobin.
This protein is found in the muscles of mammals, and is responsible for carrying oxygen to the muscles to help them function during movement.
The more myoglobin a muscle contains, the darker it will appear when cooked, which is why beef, lamb, mutton and pork are all considered red meats. Just look at them in the package and you will see!
Red meat tends to be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol than other types of meat, which can make it less healthy when consumed in large quantities.
But it still has high amounts of protein and essential amino acids, which are important nutrients for our own bodies.
Nutritional Profile of Lamb
Lamb is highly nutritious for red meat, and an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and important vitamins and minerals.
A typical serving of lamb, call it 3 ounces cooked, provides 200-300 calories (depending on the specific cut and cooking method), approximately 24 grams of high-quality protein, 15 grams of fat, and no carbohydrates.
Lamb is a great source of many important nutrients, including vitamin B12, niacin, and zinc.
The health benefits of lamb are numerous: supporting muscle growth and development, promoting healthy bones, and aiding in immune system function.
Vitamin B12 is important for nervous system function, while niacin is essential for energy metabolism.
Zinc plays a critical role in immune function specifically, wound healing, and cellular growth and repair.
Other key nutrients found in lamb include iron, selenium, and phosphorus. There is a lot to like about lamb’s nutrient profile!
It is also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and promote weight loss.
Incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle, lamb is a great option for those looking to maintain or build muscle mass, while its healthy fats can help support a healthy weight and improve heart health.
Among red meats, lamb is excellent. But when selecting and preparing lamb, it is important to choose lean cuts, such as leg or loin, and to avoid any heavily processed or cured meats if you want the benefits.
Cooking methods such as grilling or roasting can also help retain the nutrient content of lamb while producing a delicious and healthy meal.
How is Lamb Different from Pork?
There are significant differences, but the two are broadly similar in terms of overall nutrition. One of the primary differences between lamb and pork is fat content.
While both meats are a good source of protein, lamb tends to be lower in fat compared to pork. But, much of the fat in pork is monounsaturated, which can help improve heart health when consumed in moderation.
Lamb, on the other hand, can be higher in saturated fat, making it a somewhat less healthy option when consumed in large quantities.
In terms of taste and texture, lamb has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other red meats, including pork.
The two are actually only compared by folks who have never had lamb! It is often described as having a slightly sweet taste with a rich, meaty flavor that is much closer to beef than pork.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.