When I wrote about goat meat as an ethical alternative to beef, some American readers were appalled. Yet goat meat remains one of the most popular sources of animal protein in the world, and it has much to recommend it from an environmental point of view. Because they browse, rather than graze, many farmers argue that you can produce more meat from less land and with a lower environmental impact.
But as I noted before, one of the biggest challenges to goat farmers may be cultural—at least here in the United States. Yet while vegans and vegetarians have every right to scoff at the notion of "ethical meat", it has always seemed strange that folks who eat beef and chicken might turn their noses up at eating other animals from an ethical point of view. (Yes, that's a less controversial way of making the puppy-meat is morally little different to eating pork argument.)
I have already seen goat meat appearing in my local farmers' markets, and as urban populations get increasingly diverse (and adventurous in their eating habits), I wouldn't be surprised if that trend continues.
All of which should be of benefit to Jean-Marie, a refugee from Burundi who now farms a small herd of goats inside the city limits of Louisville, Kentucky and markets it to the immigrant populations there. Besides being a thoughtful introduction to a more sustainable source of meat, this video from Perennial Plate serves as one more reminder of the skills, traditions and resources that migrants bring with them to their new countries. We would all do well to break bread with our new neighbors more often, whether or not we agree on appropriate sources of protein.
In the meantime, maybe John Laumer's vision of hyper-local goat meat produced on green roofs is not so far fetched after all.