AskDefine | Define meats

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  1. Plural of meat


Extensive Definition

Meat, in its broadest definition, is food. In modern English usage, most often it refers to animal tissue used as food, mostly skeletal muscle and associated fat, but it may also refer to organs, including lungs, livers, skin, brains, bone marrow, kidneys, and a variety of other internal organs as well as blood. The word meat is also used by the meat packing and butchering industry in a more restrictive sense - the flesh of mammalian species (pigs, cattle, etc.) raised and butchered for human consumption, to the exclusion of fish, poultry, and eggs. Eggs and seafood are rarely referred to as meat even though they consist of animal tissue. Animals that consume only, or mostly animals are called carnivores.
Through most of human history, individual families of humans hunted, raised, and slaughtered animals for their meat, and later, as civilizations developed, priests and temple assistants performed the functions of slaughering and butchering animals for food in animal sacrifice. Today, in most industrialized nations, a meat packing industry slaughters, processes, and distributes meat for human consumption.


The word meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general. Mad in Danish, mat in Swedish and Norwegian, and matur in Icelandic, still mean 'food'. The narrower sense that refers to meat as not including fish, developed over the past few hundred years and has religious influences. The distinction between fish and "meat" is codified by Jewish laws of kashrut regarding the mixing of milk and meat, which does not forbid the mixing of milk and fish. Modern halakha (Jewish law) on kashrut classifies the flesh of both mammals and birds as "meat"; fish are considered to be parve (also spelled parev, pareve; Yiddish: פארעוו parev), neither meat nor a dairy food. The Catholic dietary restriction to "meat" on Fridays also does not apply to the cooking and eating of fish.
The Latin word carō "meat" (also the root of 'carnal', referring to the 'pleasures of the flesh') is often a euphemism for sexual pleasure, which is, after all, effected from a function performed by fleshy organs. Thus 'meat' may refer to the human body in a sensual, or sexual, capacity. A meat market, which, in addition to simply denoting a market where meat is sold, also refers to a place or situation where humans are treated or viewed as commodities, especially a place known as one where a sexual partner may be found. This connotation has also existed for at least 500 years. 'Meat' may also be used in a humorous or indifferent way to refer to a human. The military slang phrase "meat shield", refers to soldiers sent in front of an enemy to draw fire away from another unit. The theme of hostile, or simply misanthropic robots referring to humans with disparaging terms such as "meatbag" is popular in science fiction (see: Bender, HK-47).

Methods of preparation

Meat is prepared in many ways, as steaks, in stews, fondue, or as dried meat. It may be ground then formed into patties (as hamburgers or croquettes), loaves, or sausages, or used in loose form (as in "sloppy joe" or Bolognese sauce). Some meat is cured, by smoking, pickling, preserving in salt or brine (see salted meat and curing). Other kinds of meat are marinated and barbecued, or simply boiled, roasted, or fried. Meat is generally eaten cooked, but there are many traditional recipes that call for raw beef, veal or fish. Meat is often spiced or seasoned, as in most sausages. Meat dishes are usually described by their source (animal and part of body) and method of preparation.
Meat is a typical base for making sandwiches. Popular varieties of sandwich meat include ham, pork, salami and other sausages, and beef, such as steak, roast beef, corned beef, and pastrami. Meat can also be molded or pressed (common for products that include offal, such as haggis and scrapple) and canned.

Nutritional benefits and concerns

Further information: Nutrition, Foodborne illness, Health concerns associated with red meat
All muscle tissue is very high in protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, and in most cases, is a good source of zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. However, meat tends to be high in fat (red meat in particular), low in carbohydrates, and contains no fiber. The fat content of meat can vary widely depending on the species and breed of animal, the way in which the animal was raised, including what it was fed, the anatomical part of the body, and the methods of butchering and cooking. Wild animals such as deer are typically leaner than farm animals, leading those concerned about fat content to choose game such as venison. However, centuries of breeding meat animals for size and fatness is being reversed by consumer demand for meat with less fat.
In recent years, the health benefits of meat as a regular part of the human diet have come into question. In a large-scale study, the consumption of red meat over a lifetime was found to raise the risk of cancer by 20 to 60 percent, while causing adverse mutations in DNA. Animal fat is one of the only dietary sources of saturated fat, which have been linked to various health problems, including heart disease, bowel cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and arteriosclerosis. One famous study, the Nurses' Health Study, followed about 100,000 female nurses and their eating habits. Nurses who ate the largest amount of animal fat were twice as likely to develop colon cancer as the nurses who ate the least amount of animal fat.
In response to changing prices as well as health concerns about saturated fat and cholesterol, consumers have altered their consumption of various meats. A USDA report points out that consumption of beef in the United States between 1970–1974 and 1990–1994 dropped by 21%, while consumption of chicken increased by 90%. During the same period of time, the price of chicken dropped by 14% relative to the price of beef. In 1995 and 1996, beef consumption increased due to higher supplies and lower prices.
Meat, like any food, can also transmit certain diseases, but undercooked meat is especially susceptible. Undercooked pork sometimes contains the parasites that cause trichinosis or cysticercosis. Chicken is often contaminated with Salmonella enterica disease-causing bacteria. Minced beef can be contaminated during slaughter with disease-causing Escherichia coli O157:H7 deriving from the intestinal tract if proper precautions are not taken.

Red meat and white meat

Red meat is darker-coloured meat, as contrasted with white meat. The exact definition varies, but the meat of adult mammals, such as beef, mutton, and horse is invariably considered "red", while domestic chicken and rabbit are invariably considered "white".
meats in Afrikaans: Vleis
meats in Arabic: لحم
meats in Guarani: So'o
meats in Bosnian: Meso
meats in Bulgarian: Месо
meats in Catalan: Carn
meats in Czech: Maso
meats in Welsh: Cig
meats in Danish: Kød
meats in German: Fleisch
meats in Spanish: Carne
meats in Esperanto: Viando
meats in French: Viande
meats in Manx: Feill
meats in Scottish Gaelic: Feòil
meats in Galician: Carne
meats in Korean: 고기
meats in Croatian: Meso
meats in Indonesian: Daging
meats in Icelandic: Kjöt
meats in Italian: Carne
meats in Hebrew: בשר (מזון)
meats in Swahili (macrolanguage): Nyama
meats in Kurdish: Goşt
meats in Latin: Caro
meats in Lithuanian: Mėsa
meats in Hungarian: Hús
meats in Malay (macrolanguage): Daging
meats in Dutch: Vlees
meats in Japanese: 肉
meats in Norwegian: Kjøtt
meats in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kjøtt
meats in Narom: Chai
meats in Polish: Mięso
meats in Portuguese: Carne
meats in Romanian: Carne
meats in Quechua: Aycha
meats in Russian: Мясо
meats in Sicilian: Carni
meats in Simple English: Meat
meats in Swati: Inyama
meats in Slovak: Mäso
meats in Slovenian: Meso
meats in Serbian: Месо
meats in Finnish: Liha
meats in Swedish: Kött
meats in Tagalog: Karne
meats in Tamil: இறைச்சி
meats in Tajik: Гӯшт
meats in Turkish: Et
meats in Ukrainian: М'ясо
meats in Yiddish: פלייש
meats in Contenese: 肉類
meats in Chinese: 肉类食物
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