Eating llamas

Now, I’d always been under the impression that you couldn’t eat llama meat in France. I was told that on good authority. But I was doing some research yesterday – not, I hasten to add, because I want to eat either Gabby, Windy, Katrina, Lulin, Vicky, Georgie, Mellie, Ciara, Plunkett, Elrond, Oscar, Denis, Seamus or Brendan. (Everyone knows you can’t eat an animal with a name!) I was checking things out for my famous living in France book. And also because I just wanted to know. Every year, the most popular questions posed by people who come to trek with our llamas are 1) Can you ride a llama? (no) and 2) Can you eat them? I’ve been telling them no, but I thought I should find out for sure.

Here come my nosey girls, alpacas at the forefront

Anyway, I stumbled across a very long document issued by UNECE, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, entitled ‘Llama/alpaca meat carcases and cuts’. France is listed as one of the countries whose delegation was involved in drawing it up. This suggests to me that therefore they support the idea of eating llamas. I’ve emailed UNECE to ask but haven’t had a reply yet. They probably think I’m a passing lunatic!

Ciara's ears are down because she's not sure about the camera

Anyway, all meat has a code according to what species it is. Beef is 10, turkey is 71, llama is 60 and alpaca is 61. There are then more codes for what age and sex the animal is, another set according to how it was reared (indoors, outdoors, organic etc), and more pertaining to how it was fed. And one set for fat thickness of the final cuts of meat L In fact, there are 14 different sets of codes, or fields.

There’s a handy multilingual index of products, so I now know that Pecho corto sin tapa is Spanish for brisket point, and that the Russian for cube roll is nine words long. (It wouldn’t paste here – my computer couldn’t cope!) The UNECE report finishes with many pages featuring colour photos of various cuts of llama and handy diagrams showing whereabouts on the body this is found. It’s actually fascinating but I appreciate it may not appeal to persons of a nervous disposition.

I’m not about to start looking up llama recipes, although there are plenty out there on the Internet. Llama meat is very popular in South America. I saw a programme on telly where some travel reporter was spending time in Peru and eating llama and guinea pigs. The former was tasty but tough, he said, and the latter absolutely delicious!

A few nice photos of our littlest alpaca to finish with. Elrond, who is now 7 months old, has now become known as Mutton Chops for obvious reasons. He’s one fluffy paca!

Elrond 'Mutton Chops' and his mum Amélie
Now his ears are down too - he's run out of braveness!

If you want to see how Elrond has changed, look back at his baby photos here.


0 Replies to “Eating llamas”

  1. I’m sure you can’t imagine eating any of your own. But it does raise some ethical issues, I suppose, about the dividing line between pets and animals reared for meat. In the Far East, they don’t turn a hair when it comes to eating dogs – something we find quite repugnant. And the French still eat horse (although not as much as they did), which I would find difficult. A question of culture, I suppose.

    1. At the moment llamas are too expensive to make them a feasible supply of meat. But if the population builds up, there will be a surplus male problem that I suppose could make it to the dinner table in time … I imagine visiting South Americans must think it’s crazy that we’re keeping these meat animals as pets!

  2. I have alpacas (who also have names!) and now in the US they are beginning to process the extra non-breeding males. It is quite the controversial issue, even though people always ask me, too, “Can you eat them?” So apparently it is more of a controversy among breeders than for the general public. The nutritional values compare to bison and other lean grass-fed meats.

    Cheers –

    1. I’d heard llama meat was healthy. I’d no idea that there was already a market for alpaca meat. Couldn’t eat mine, with their big eyes, wonderful natures and permanently puzzled expressions!
      Amitiés, Stephanie

  3. In France, llamas cannot be legaly bred and killed for their meat. The reason for this is that they are officialy classed as a domestic animal (like a cat and dog) and no official records are required to be mantained by their owners as to what medication or chemicals are used on them (such as injections and sprays etc). These records are required to be maintained by farmers for all ruminating animals that can legaly enter the food chain (such as sheep, cows, horses etc).

    Llama meat is sold on the menues in a couple of polaces in Paris but as far as I am aware this meat is imported.

    Hope this clarifies your question.

    Kind Regards, Mike Longhurst

  4. I know of french llama breeders who have eaten llama, like beef but tastes like pork, actually like veal. I have eaten llama from a 7 month male that died after rearing up in a trailer ( case of dig a hole or eat it), very nice and yes like veal but maybe to young, i love llamas but i think deformed or injured llamas for meat should not have the nose turned up at. i have heared that there is a llama farm starting up for llamas for meat in the 07.

    1. No, I don’t see the point of being squeamish about eating llama either. Surplus male animals are always a problem and I imagine that will lead to llama meat becoming available in France.

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