Have you ever wondered if chicken counts as a meat? Poultry is often classified in a different way from other meats, and this may leave you puzzled about what category it falls into, and how you should treat it. You aren’t alone if you are feeling unsure!
Is chicken considered a meat? Chicken is considered a meat by almost every standard definition of the word. The term “meat” is used to mean a kind of food derived from the flesh of an animal, and chicken certainly counts for this.
However, some people do classify poultry differently from other meats, such as beef, lamb, and pork, and this may be what contributes to the confusion about chicken.
Why is Chicken a Meat?
Chicken is a meat because it is the flesh of an animal that has been killed for consumption, and this is the standard definition of meat. In general, when a person refers to meat, they are referring to any animal flesh.
There are a few good reasons for defining meat in this way. It is useful from the perspective of food preparation and food storage in particular. Meat needs to be handled differently from other foods, because it is more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria.
This means that it needs to be prepared in isolation from other foods, with a dedicated chopping board and utensils. Areas need to be cleaned thoroughly after raw meat has been handled in them, and all equipment needs to be washed well.
Meat must also be stored with more care than vegetable products. It should be kept at the bottom of the fridge to prevent any dripping of meat juices, and it needs to be chilled or frozen at all times. Meat that has been improperly stored is far more likely to cause food poisoning, and therefore careful handling is required.
These things all mean that it makes sense to classify chicken as a meat, because the stipulations apply to chicken as well as to things like beef. If you do not store your chicken correctly or if you fail to follow good preparation practices, you are at a high risk of contracting food poisoning.
By classifying all meats together and offering guidelines for their overall handling, food safety bodies have managed to reduce food poisoning cases. For this reason, you should classify chicken as a meat and ensure that you handle it with as much care as other meats.
Why is Chicken Sometimes Not Classed as a Meat?
Chicken is occasionally separated from other meats because it is not the flesh of a mammal, and some distinction is drawn between the mammal-based meats (pork, lamb, beef) and the other meat products, such as chicken and fish. This may be partly because poultry is not red meat.
Poultry tends to be made up of white meat and dark meat, but it is never red meat, whereas most meat from mammals is. This makes it quite a different food, and therefore some people do distinguish between poultry and other meat. Poultry is often seen as a lighter, healthier option.
Many people turn to poultry as a means of reducing their other meat intake and improving their diets. Chicken salad, for example, is a popular diet meal, because the meat is high in protein (and therefore filling), but low in fat.
In some situations, chicken can be healthier, but this does depend on the individual’s dietary requirements. Eating too much red meat can indeed be unhealthy, and lean meats like chicken can be better alternatives, but you shouldn’t determine that all red meats are bad, and all white meats are good. Moderation is always important.
White meat generally refers to duck, chicken, and turkey, but the category also includes pork. White meat does not exclusively refer to poultry.
Do Vegetarians Eat Chicken?
No, vegetarians do not eat chicken, because it is the flesh of an animal, and a true vegetarian eats no animal flesh. However, some people will eat chicken or fish and still use the term “vegetarian” to describe themselves. This goes against the standard definition of this term.
It isn’t entirely clear why some people do this. The consumption of fish is more commonly argued because fish is separated from other meats by religious traditions, but this isn’t true of poultry.
It’s possible that some of these people feel uncomfortable with the idea of eating meat from another mammal, but do not mind eating meat from a bird. However, it should be stressed that this isn’t actually vegetarianism. Vegetarianism does not permit the consumption of any meat, and that means that all kinds of poultry are forbidden.
Are Other Kinds of Poultry Meat?
You may be wondering about turkey, pheasant, and duck, which are the other main kinds of poultry that we eat. All of these count as meat because they come from a living animal.
Again, they are not red meat and they do not contain as much fat, but they do still count as meat by most standard definitions.
Do Restaurants Count Chicken as Meat?
Yes, almost all restaurants will count chicken as a kind of meat and will not show it among their vegetarian or vegan options. This is because it is commonly accepted that poultry is meat, and vegetarians will not want to choose this option.
It is also because restaurants recognize that chicken must be prepared using the same rigorous safety guidelines as other meats, and they must therefore treat it like other meats. There is no reason for a restaurant to classify poultry as anything except a kind of meat, and it would be unusual to find a restaurant that did.
You will never see chicken listed on the vegetarian or vegan part of the menu.
Chicken is generally considered a meat because it comes from the flesh of an animal. It is grouped with other meats for the purposes of dietary preferences (e.g. vegetarianism) and food prep and food storage, and there is no reason not to classify it as a meat.
However, chicken is distinct from red meat, and some people treat it as a sub-category of meat.