By Michelle Nairn
There is much debate over eating kangaroo, our national emblem. But the truth is that it is far healthier and more sustainable than eating beef or lamb. Here I outline 5 reasons to make the switch to kangaroo meat.
1. Kangaroos Produce Barely Any Methane
Methane produced from livestock makes up 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and has 25% more warming potential than Carbon Dioxide (Trivedi, 2008). Kangaroos have different microorganisms in their guts than cows and sheep, resulting in kangaroos producing very little methane (Trivedi, 2008). In fact, cows produce up to 600 times more greenhouse gas (in the form of methane) than kangaroos (Trivedi, 2008). Replacing 1/3 of Australia’s sheep and cattle with kangaroos would reduce Australia’s entire greenhouse gas output by 3% (Trivedi, 2008).
2. Kangaroos Eat Less than Sheep and Cows
Kangaroos eat less than sheep and cows, resulting in less grazing pressure. To put it into perspective, cows eat 6 times that of a sheep, bulls eat 10 times that of a sheep and kangaroos eat 0.625 as much as a sheep, in other words 1 sheep is equivalent to 1.6 kangaroos (Department of Primary Industries, 2010). Furthermore Kangaroos feed on native vegetation and can eat lower quality foods than sheep and cattle. This reduces the needs for extensive irrigation and damaging fertilises.
3. Kangaroos are Super Healthy
Kangaroo meat is low in saturated fat, and is 98% fat free (Macro Meats, 2012). It is high in iron, protein, zinc and B-group vitamins. Kangaroo meat is also a good source of omega-3 fats, which help reduce the risk of heart disease (Heart Foundation, 2013). Furthermore, kangaroo meat contains conjugated linoleic acid, and antioxidant that helps reduce body fat.
4. Kangaroos are Abundant
Kangaroos are super abundant, so much so that they are considered a pest. The Australian government allows for the cull of 10-15% of the kangaroo population each year. It makes sense to use these kangaroos for meat, and keep the population at bay at the same time.
5. Kangaroos are More Gentle on Our Land
The hooves on livestock including sheep, cattle and pigs are detrimental to Australian land. Hooves cause damage to vegetation and cause soil pugging, which is the compaction of soils. Severe compaction results in erosion (WWF, 2013). Kangaroos have padded feet, which are much gentler on soil.
Kangaroo meat is also delicious! Check out this website for tips on cooking and delicious recipes: http://www.kangaroo-industry.asn.au/recipes/recipe_frame.htm
Department of Primary Industries (2010) ‘How to use Dry Sheep Equivalents (DSEs) to compare sheep enterprises’ accessed May 12, 2013 from http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/farmbusiness/budgets/livestock/sheep/background/dse
Heart Foundation (2013) ‘Omega 3’ accessed May 12, 2013 from http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/fats/pages/omega-3.aspx
Macro Meats (2012) ‘Kangaroo, The Super Food’ accessed May 12, 2013 from http://www.macromeats-gourmetgame.com.au/Nutrition/NutritionQAs
Trivedi, B (2008) ‘Kangaroos to the Rescue’ New Scientist 20-27 December pp. 48-50 www.newscientist.com