If I had to think of ten ways to “go green,” eating kangaroos would probably not be on my list. But according to scientists in Australia, I should add it on there. Beef is currently the most widely produced meat down under and the environment suffers greatly as a result. In fact, over 50% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cow burps. When the grazing animal is digesting food, it continuously expels methane, a gas that is much more ecologically destructive than carbon dioxide, in the form of a burp. Indeed, enteric fermentation (the polite scientific term for burping and farting) is a serious environmental concern because methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2.
Kangaroos on the other hand require fewer resources and do not expel nearly the amount of methane as a cow does; so some Australians are trying to bring it into mainstream eating habits. Kangatarians- those who do not eat any other meat besides kangaroo for environmental reasons- are growing in numbers. According to one Australian newspaper: “The low level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by kangaroos, and the fact that they require no additional feed, water or land cleared for them, make them an obvious choice for the ecologically conscious.” While it is organically harvested and humanely killed, there will be many difficulties on the road to making kangaroo-eating popular and widely-accepted.
The cute furry animal is a symbol of national pride for Australians and is featured on the country’s coat of arms, so seeing kangaroo nuggets in the grocery store freezer might turn some stomachs. I can imagine that it would be a bit like Americans eating bald eagles as a greener alternative to chicken. Also, kangaroos cannot be herded and it would take ten of them to produce the same amount of meat as one steer. As the debate continues, consider finding more alternatives to eating beef.