One Man’s Zoo Exhibit is Another Man’s Steak
While the rest of the earth may have trouble imagining kangaroos outside of a zoo exhibit, in Australia, they’re far more common. Imagine millions of rabbits (which Australia already has plenty of, by the way) — but these millions of rabbits are wreaking havoc on native plant populations. Already, the kangaroo population has grown from 27 million in 2010 to 45 million as of 2016. For comparison, that’s nearly twice the entire human population of the country. And if you need to put it in further perspective: the U.S. is home to an estimated 98 million cattle, with the majority of these animals confined to farms (the kangaroos are largely unrestricted, living in the outback).
From Eco Disaster to Dinner
Now, ecologists and landholders are encouraging Australians to eat more kangaroo, precisely because there is little demand for the wild meat. Though kangaroo skins are often used for leather, people rarely want to eat the meat itself — the BBC says this is largely due to stigma, since it’s the country’s most recognizable animal. Animal welfare becomes a greater area of concern when it’s an animal that has been so humanized over the years.
In many ways, kangaroo meat is similar to grass fed beef — it’s lower in fat, contributes to less methane in the atmosphere (making it more environmentally friendly), it’s hormone free, and also contributes to keeping the outback full of a variety of different plants and animals. If speed is an important factor, consider that, thanks to less fat, grass fed beef and kangaroo meat have quicker cooker times — by about 30%.
Will Kangaroo Meat Packages be Australia’s Next Big Thing?
Will local meat markets be stocking kangaroo meat anytime soon? It remains to be seen whether Australians will adapt to this new option for sustainability, despite its many attractive attributes. It’s fair to say that Australia is, perhaps, sitting on a gold mine yet to be exploited — considering that America’s cattle farms are worth a combined $60 billion, an enterprising Australian (or several) could make a quick buck off the country’s extra kangaroos somehow… can you say “kangaroo-nuggets”?