lamb illustration on transparent background

Eat More Sustainable Meat: Choose Pastured Lamb

Despite its potential to create more sustainable food systems and healthier soil, American lamb consumption is among the lowest in the world. Learn more about why Americans are so sheepish about lamb and how you can incorporate pasture-raised lamb into your diet!
sheep grazing at the central grazing company farm

Our food system is accelerating a climate crisis and relying on a broken supply chain. At Central Grazing Company, we are working on community-scale solutions to address these global challenges. Everyone can do their part to help by shifting their purchasing and eating choices to include more locally produced, sustainable meat. One option is to consume pastured lamb raised in a way that prioritizes the soil's health and the animal's well-being. 

Despite its potential to create more sustainable food systems and healthier soil, American lamb consumption is among the lowest in the world. When, by contrast, Americans are among the world’s top consumers of beef, pork, and poultry, it begs the question: Why are people in the U.S. hesitant to incorporate lamb into their diets? 

The Genesis of the LambSlide  

In the early 19th century, the wool-manufacturing industry occupied an important place in the American economy, with high demand in national and international markets. The demand for wool meant that lamb (the meat from a sheep younger than a year old) and mutton (the meat from a sheep more than a year old) were regular, easily accessible parts of the American diet. 

The popularity of lamb and mutton suffered during and after World War II for two key reasons: During the war, supplies of canned mutton were sent to the frontlines to feed American troops. The canned mutton contained meat that was gamy and low-quality, and by the time they came home, troops were tired of eating it. Furthermore, clothing trends after the war shifted toward cotton and synthetic fibers, lowering the demand for sheep production and weakening the wool industry. As wool fell out of fashion, so too did the consumption of lamb.

Still Sheepish about Lamb?

Post-war perceptions that lamb has the same pungent flavor of mutton remain, even though the attribution is misplaced. In actuality, lamb meat has a mild, easily complementary flavor — particularly when the animal has been grass-fed.  

More and more small-scale and local farmers and ranchers are raising pastured lamb like us at Central Grazing Company. Our work is an important part of advancing food system reform — and you can taste the benefits. Substitute pastured lamb for other meats in your favorite recipes as an easy way to increase the amount of sustainable meat in your diet. Here are a few ideas to get you started! 

Easy Swaps: Delicious Lamb Recipes to Help You Love Lamb and Eat More Sustainable Meat

Pastured lamb is mild in flavor and versatile. You can readily swap lamb meat into some of your favorite recipes to increase the sustainability of your diet and support regional food systems. 

Swap for Ground Meat: Ground Lamb

In meatballs, burgers, soup, or even a meaty pasta sauce, you can substitute ground lamb for ground beef with a 1:1 ratio. If you don’t have a favorite recipe to try, get started with these:

Lamb Meatballs with Kale Soup | Enjoy the comforting flavors of this lovely lamb meatball and kale soup, served with crusty buttered bread! Prepare the meatballs to add to the soup with kale, red bell pepper, sweet onion, and orzo pasta in a delectable chicken bone broth with dry white wine. You can also 

Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese & Pickled Red Onions | With the nutty, salty notes of blue cheese and the tang of pickled red onions, this hearty lamb burger recipe combines a balance of flavors for a quick summer lunch. Top with your choice of condiments, and enjoy!

Lamb Chili | Try this Southwestern twist on a classic Midwestern chili recipe! By adding poblano peppers and black beans and including avocado and tortilla chips as toppings, this dish makes for a hearty, flavorful, healthy stew. Use pasture-raised ground lamb for the most healthful and flavor-rich preparation.

Swaps for the Grill: Lamb Kabobs

Lamb kabob meat can readily be marinated and put on the grill just as you would with beef or chicken cuts. A lamb chop can be as flavorful as a grilled pork chop. Get inspired with these recipe ideas perfect for a grill:

Lamb Kabobs with Peanut Sauce | Don't be intimidated by the long prep time for this recipe — most of the time is letting the lamb kabob meat marinate in its citrusy sauce. The peanut sauce comes together quickly and provides a sweet counterbalance to the grilled lamb meat, turning this recipe into a quick favorite for a weeknight meal or a dinner entertaining friends.

Lamb Kabobs with Peach and Red Onion | This recipe combines the heat of jalapeño peppers with the sweetness of grilled peaches, the bite of red onion, and the appetizing flavor of lamb marinated in orange, chipotle, garlic sauce, and agave.

Grilled Lamb Chops | Get outside and fire up the grill with this quick and easy recipe combining lamb chops with a sesame, soy sauce, and brown sugar glaze! Garnish the chops with sesame seeds and cilantro before serving this a delightful summer meal.

sheep grazing on midwestern grass under a blue sky, on a farm that practices ethical animal farming in lawrence, kansas