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Is Lamb Considered Red or White Meat?

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel

The classification of meat into red or white categories is based on the color of the muscle fibers in the meat. Red meat is the muscle meat of mammals rich in myoglobin. Myoglobin is an iron-containing protein that binds oxygen to keep it in the muscle tissue. Myoglobin is the pigment that gives red meat its distinct dark color when exposed to oxygen. Red meat is also defined as the meat of all livestock except poultry.

Lamb is the meat from a sheep less than one-year-old. Like beef and pork, lamb has a relatively high myoglobin content, giving it a reddish color and categorizing it as red meat. Meat from sheep older than the age of one is called mutton. Sheep is one of the oldest domesticated meat species (1).

Based on these two definitions, lamb is classified as red meat (1).

However, compared to beef, lamb is lower in myoglobin and iron but higher in saturated fats. Naturally, lamb contains more myoglobin and iron than white meats, such as chicken and fish.


Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel
Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.