This sustainable meat source often gets overlooked. Here's why you should give goat a place at your table.

Thirty years ago, few Americans were familiar with goat cheese, but today the fresh creamy cheese is everywhere. Now sustainable-farming advocates hope we'll also fall in love with goat meat. Shirley Richardson, a small-scale Vermont farmer, is one of those advocates. She saw that the goat dairy industry generates a significant number of kids (baby goats) each year to keep their mothers producing milk. Dairy farms have no need for males and keep only some females, resulting in a lot of extra young goats. Explains Richardson, "Farmers welcomed help figuring out a way to put these surplus animals to productive use in the food chain."

Richardson co-founded Vermont Chevon and has been working to develop a sustainable and humane model for raising dairy goats for the meat market. While goat meat is popular worldwide, in America it has typically been limited to smaller ethnic markets and restaurants (Indian, Caribbean, Mexican). But that's changing as some upscale restaurants, including Chicago's Girl & the Goat, as well as Whole Foods Market and specialty butchers are adding it to their mix. Adam Danforth, butcher and James Beard Award-winning author, notes it's a challenge for retailers to carry goat meat: "There's slow progress, but I see it happening."

Another important task, Richardson says, is "educating chefs and consumers about this healthy and flavorful meat." Goat meat has about the same amount of protein as chicken breast and more iron than beef. "Goat is a good example of a meat that is ignored, based on ignorance," says Danforth. "It's delicious. Sweet, mild and not gamy at all. People are pleasantly surprised when they try goat-everyone from foodie laymen to really experienced chefs."

Try Goat at Home

Try our recipe for Indian-spiced Goat Curry or check out Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, a cookbook with recipes for Jamaican jerk goat, kebabs and more.