Can you eat sheep?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Can you eat sheep?” Also, we’ll explore how sheep can be eaten, where sheep originated, what the nutritional content of sheep meat is, and what are the health benefits of eating sheep. 

Can you eat sheep? 

Yes, you can eat sheep. Meat sourced from sheep is called mutton. It is very savory and quite popular in some parts of the world where cattle can’t be easily farmed. However, there are distinctions made regarding the animal’s age. 

Meat that is taken from sheep that are less than one year old is called  Lamb whereas meat that is sourced from yearlings is dubbed hoggett. , and mutton is meat that comes from older sheep.

Mutton is more typically found in middle-eastern and European cuisine than it is in North America, where meats such as pork, beef, and chicken are more readily consumed.  

There are efforts to popularize mutton in the US, though it has proven difficult, due to how streamlined the process of sourcing the aforementioned meats is, and factory farming. 

In some Latin American countries, mutton is enjoyed as a central ingredient in traditional dishes, and it remains popular in Britain, Australia, the Middle East, and other countries where cattle cannot easily be farmed. 

How can sheep be eaten? 

Sheep can be eaten in a wide variety of ways. The meat can be portioned into joints and roasted, fried, stewed, baked, or grilled, and there are many different savory recipes from different countries that reflect their heritage. 

For example, in the middle east, a common mutton dish is a lamb stew, in Britain, there is roasted leg, and in Mexico, there is a dish called barbacoa, which is a special kind of baked dish, prepared with local ingredients and cooked in underground ovens. 

Additionally, mutton meat can be minced and made into savory pastries such as shepherd’s pie.

There are many savory recipes that we encourage our readers to peruse and find one that’ll suit their nutritional needs, as well as taste buds.  

Where did sheep originate? 

Sheep are estimated to have been domesticated over ten thousand years ago, namely in what we now know as the Middle East. 

Scientists indicate that they were likely bred from wild species such as ibexes and mouflons. 

When their genomes (the entirety of their genetic material) were analyzed, comparative analysis revealed that the differences between domesticated sheep (and goats too, for that matter) with these wild relatives, indicated selection for domesticated traits. 

Therefore, it stands that sheep were domesticated thousands of years ago in countries such as Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and possibly Iran and Iraq. 

What is the nutritional content of sheep meat? 

The exact nutritional content of meat sourced from sheep will depend on the animal’s diet and age. 

For reference, a 3-oz (85-gram) portion of mutton, will supply: 

  • 250 calories – of which 160 are sourced from fat
  • 21 grams of protein
  • 18 grams of fat (28% of the recommended daily intake) – of which 7.5 grams are saturated (38% of the RDI), 1.3 grams are polyunsaturated, and 7.5 grams are monounsaturated.
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates
  • 82 milligrams of cholesterol (27% of the RDI)
  • 61 milligrams of sodium (3% of the RDI)
  • 264 milligrams of potassium (8% of the RDI)

Additionally, the same portion of mutton will supply 1.1% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, and 8.9% of iron. 

What are the health benefits of eating sheep? 

As it is a source of protein, mutton can provide many health benefits. 

Protein is essential for muscle mass and strength, as well as immune function, recovery from injuries, and for bodily functions that require enzymes, as cooked and digested proteins provide amino acids, the building blocks for other proteins. 

As a red meat, it is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for the formation of erythrocytes (red blood cells), nerve function, and various cell processes. 

Mutton is also a source of fat, and many of its calories are sourced from it. This may make it ideal for ketogenic dieting, and other diet types where carbohydrates are contraindicated. 

However, mutton consumption should not be combined with refined sugars or carbohydrates, as your liver will metabolize the carbohydrates first, and the saturated fat in mutton may build up in arteries and other blood vessels. 

Excessive consumption of saturated fat is associated with heart disease, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and other disorders. 

When consuming mutton (or lamb, or hoggett), we encourage our readers to avoid dishes that are high in carbohydrates, sodium, and additional fat. 

We encourage our readers to be mindful of their daily caloric needs, and if they opt to consume mutton, they should do so by incorporating it into a balanced diet, combined with aerobic exercise. 


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Can you eat sheep?” Also, we’ve explored how sheep can be eaten, where sheep originated, what the nutritional content of sheep meat is, and what are the health benefits of eating sheep.