An ecological leap of faith – eat kangaroo to save world
WHEN it comes to saving the planet, eating a kangaroo might not be the first idea to pop into the head of the average eco-friendly consumer.
But it is exactly what scientists in Australia are urging the public to consider in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
They say farming the marsupials instead of cattle or sheep would dramatically decrease methane emissions.
Methane from the guts of grazing animals makes up about 11 per cent of Australia's greenhouse emissions. In comparison, kangaroos produce very little of the gas.
But raising kangaroos instead of beef and lamb means supermarkets will have to be stocked with the meat of an Australian icon.
Kangaroo meat has been growing in popularity in restaurants down under and in the UK.
In the latest study, researchers from the University of New South Wales attempt to sell the case for changes in eating habits to help the environment.
In the journal Conservation Letters, George Wilson and colleagues claim removing seven million cattle and 36 million sheep by 2020 and replacing them with 175 million kangaroos to produce the same amount of meat could lower greenhouse gases by 3 per cent a year in Australia.
Methane's potential to warm up the planet is about 21 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. But it lingers in the atmosphere for only eight to 12 years, compared with around 100 years for carbon dioxide, so reducing it would cut the effect quickly.
The researchers admitted turning one of the world's top wool and beef producers into a leading seller of kangaroo meat would not be easy.
"One of the impediments to change is protective legislation and the status of kangaroos as a national icon," they said.
The kangaroo features on Australia's coat of arms, and it has become a children's favourite in shows such as Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It is becoming ever clearer that eating less meat and choosing more environmentally friendly meat – such as kangaroo – can be a significant step to cutting carbon as well as improving health."
KANGAROO tastes quite like steak, but if you eat it rare it has much more flavour, writes Tony Ginda. It is much lower in cholesterol than other types of red meat, which makes it healthier.
We have the meat imported from Australia. We prepare it by brushing it with a little oil. It is then cooked under the grill.
The most important thing is not to over-cook the meat as it will become very rubbery. We serve kangaroo with chutney and onions, or as a burger.
• Tony Ginda is a chef at Walkabout restaurant in Glasgow, where kangaroo is on the menu.
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