Types of Meat
A wide variety of animals are eaten for their meat. This list includes meats most commonly eaten around the world, prepared in many different ways.
Possibly the most popular meat in the world, and certainly the most common poultry. Chicken has been eaten for centuries, having been depicted in carvings from 600 BC. Consumption has grown in recent decades because it is seen as a healthy alternative to beef.
In the U.S., chickens are categorized by size, which determines the cooking method most appropriate. The categories, from smallest to largest, are fryers, broilers and roasters. Although are often sold whole, chicken is also sold in dismembered pieces, such as legs, thighs, and breasts. Hearts, livers and gizzards are generally processed for food. The eggs of chickens are also eaten.
Preparation affects the amount of fat and cholesterol in a chicken dish. Steam cooking with the skin removed is considered the healthiest way to cook chicken, with frying being one of the worst.
A staple in North America, Europe, the Middle East, parts of South America Africa and Southeast Asia, the meat from bovines has been consumed since prehistoric times. Beef comes from cows, heifers, steers or bulls. In some cultures, such as Hindu, beef is considered taboo.
Cuts of beef include roasts, short ribs, and steaks. Beef is often processed into items such as beef jerky, corned beef, or sausages. Other parts of the bovine that are commonly eaten are the heart, oxtail, the brain, the liver, the kidneys, and intestines, which are often cleaned as used as sausage casings.
Beef can be prepared many ways, including grilling, roasting, stewing, or curing.
Although technically fresh pig meat, the term pork is often used to include processed meat such as bacon. Popular in various forms throughout the world, consumption of pork is taboo in religions such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Pork was typically an autumn dish in North America and Europe, since the animals matured and were fattened in the spring and summer. With the development of mass production methods, pork is eaten year around throughout the world.
Pork is very common in sausages. Bacon, cut from the belly, back or sides of the pig and smoked or cured, is very popular throughout the world.
Lamb is the meat from a sheep in its first year; the meat of older sheep is knows as hogget, and later, mutton. Those terms, however, can vary from country to country. Sheep meat is prevalent in the cuisine of some Mediterranean nations, and also popular in Europe. It is consumed far less in North America.
There are three types of lamb meat: hindquarter, which is the rear legs and hip; forequarter, which is the neck, shoulder front legs and a portion of the ribs; and the loin, which are the ribs between the two. Chops are taken from the shoulder, rib and loin.
Most veal comes from male dairy cattle. There are five types: Free raised, with calves being raised in a pasture; Milk fed, grain fed, Rose veal, which comes from calves raised in conjunctin with the UK’s Freedom Food program, and Bob veal, which comes from calves slaughtered when only a few days old.
Production of veal is changing due to criticism of the veal industry. Some veal calves are kept in hutches, which restricts their movement, and prevents muscle development but improves taste of the meat.
In many countries, restricting the movement of veal calves has been banned. The use of hutches or crates in the U.S. is being phased out.
Popular in many cuisines around the globe, the most common type of duck meat eaten in the U.S. is Pekin duck.
The meat comes from the legs and breasts of the animal, with breast meat being darker than that of a chicken or turkey. It is often roasted during at least part of the preparation process. The liver is often used in foie gras as a substitute for goose liver.