At first it can be a hard concept to grasp, eating our native wildlife can be good for the environment? But it’s clear that eating our most iconic native animal is the best choice for the environment when it comes to eating red meat.
Kangaroo is the ultimate free range meat- it’s organic, totally free of antibiotics and other chemicals common in livestock and they get to roam free in their natural environment prior to being harvested. Best of all, kangaroos emit virtually no methane. A scientific report in 2008 found that reducing cattle and sheep populations and increasing kangaroo numbers to 175 million by 2020 would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 16 megatonnes, or 3 percent of Australia’s total emissions.
Not to mention, because kangaroos are natural inhabitants of Australia, they tread far more lightly than farmed animals do. None of Australia’s native animals are hooved, so the feet of cattle and sheep do some significant damage to the land, causing soil damage and erosion and damaging native vegetation, which has not evolved in the presence of hooved feet.
Kangaroo are harvested from the wild so they also do not require the resources that farming livestock does, nor does it require clearing or modification of the environment to support kangaroo populations. Quotas for kangaroo harvesting are set each year, based on population surveys by state wildlife agencies. New South Wales and South Australia also have ‘special quotas’, which are used to ensure that kangaroos that would have been shot by landowners and left in the field are now used by the industry. And unlike traditional livestock, which require large amounts of supplemental water, kangaroos are adapted to Australia’s dry climate.
And if you need any more incentive, kangaroo is extremely lean with only 1 – 2 % fat, and is very high in iron. Cooking kangaroo can be a bit daunting at first when you’re used to cooking traditional meats, you need to take a bit of care to avoid overcooking. But with a bit of practice you won’t think twice about it. Before you know it, you’ll be replacing beef and lamb with kangaroo in all your favourite meals- there’s kangabangers and burgers available for barbeques, minced roo for your spaghetti Bolognese, steaks and fillets, and you can even buy it rolled up to cook for your Sunday roast.
And there’s some great resources out there the help you make some really delicious meals. ‘Roocipes’ is a free cookbook for kangaroo available for download from RIRDC ($25 if you want to order a hardcopy). There’s also some recipes available on the Macromeat company website.
There are also other native and non-native meats available in Australia that offer a better environmental choice than traditional livestock meat, but kangaroo is currently the most widely available. I’ll look into the other options available in later posts.