Zebras may not be an animal species that you immediately associate with your dinner plate or grill. We normally think of this close cousin of the horse (they are both in the Equidae family) as an animal to spot on safari rather than a source of food. Yet, the recent drive to find healthier protein sources has led Western societies to think again about this stripy equine. So, check out these fascinating zebra meat facts and decide if it is for you.
1. Zebra Meat Has Been Eaten by Humans for Years
Zebra meat is not a new thing! Humans have been eating zebras for thousands of years. They are a native species of eastern and southern Africa. It is consumed most often in countries like Namibia, Zambia, and Mozambique, where it is considered a delicacy. In Zimbabwe, it is used to make sausages and burgers, but in other countries, it is either grilled or used in ‘potjiekos’ which is a traditional stew.
In some African communities, it is an important part of cultural identity and is used to celebrate weddings and other important events.
2. Is It Legal or Ethical to Eat Zebra Meat?
The consumption of so-called ‘bush meat’ (meat derived from African wild animals) is controversial. Whilst it may provide the primary and only readily available source of animal protein for some African communities, the same cannot be said of Western populations who may want to try it. The current legal situation is that ‘game meat’ can be sold in the US if it is not from an animal on the endangered list, according to the FDA. Zebras are not endangered, but their numbers are decreasing.
In Africa, zebras are not viewed as livestock animals, and it is illegal to kill them for meat. There are ethical issues surrounding the widespread consumption of bushmeat, which may put further pressure on an already pressured ecological situation.
The only subspecies of the plains zebra that can be legally farmed is Burchell’s zebra. They are named after the British explorer William Burchell. Produce from the farms is exported to international markets.
3. Does It Taste Like Horse Meat?
Horse meat is commonly consumed in many European and Asian countries, although is not widely popular or available in the US. You would think that zebra meat and horse meat would be very similar in taste, but they are not! People who have tried both describe zebra meat as more like beef than horse meat but with a unique hint of a unique game flavor that makes it sweeter.
So, what does zebra meat taste like? It has a distinctive and gamey taste and is not like the familiar flavors of domestic-farmed animals. The exact flavor varies with the cut, and the hind leg cuts are said to be the sweetest. Therefore, it is more likely to appeal to people who are already fans of game meat and who like their meat to have a stronger flavor. It will also appeal to those that just like to try something different! When raw, it has a bright red color.
4. Zebra Meat Is Low in Fat
This is a meat that is likely to appeal to healthy eaters and fitness enthusiasts. It is very low in fat, with just a tenth of the fat content of a beef steak. It also contains a third fewer calories and a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats) than other red meats.
In comparison to other meats, the protein yields are high – up to 28 percent of the total raw weight making it suitable for low-fat/high protein diets.
5. Meat From Zebras Is High in Zinc and Vitamin B12
Studies have shown that zebra meat has a higher-than-average concentration of both zinc and iron. Zinc is essential for immunity and thyroid function, and iron is needed to transport oxygen to our muscles. It also contains high levels of vitamin B12, which is used for nerve health and energy, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are used for cell function.
Summary of 5 Things You Should Know About Zebra Meat
Here’s a handy recap of facts about zebra meat:
|Number||Zebra Meat Fact|
|1||Zebras have been eaten by African communities for years, often on special occasions.|
|2||Zebra meat tastes a bit like beef but with a sweet, gamey flavor, and the hind cuts are the sweetest.|
|3||Zebra meat tastes a bit like beef but with a sweet, gamey flavor and the hind cuts are the sweetest.|
|4||Zebra cuts are low in fat and high in protein compared to beef and other red meats.|
|5||It provides high levels of zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/ANDREYGUDKOV
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