In late 2009 I went to America on a conservation trip, where I ate a shit ton of fast food. When I came back I decided to go a year without eating meat from a cow, or other farmed red meat sources. This is where I made the switch to eating meat from wild animals, specifically Kangaroo. During the switch I learnt about not only the health benefits of eating wild meat, but more importantly the unethical practices that go on with a significant portion of farmed animals. I’ve made it to a point where over 80% of my meat intake is from wild meat.
Everytime I eat, I’m personally killing an animal. My demand creates a chain of events which take an animal from it’s current environment to my own. This is going to be the same whether we eat an overweight grain fed cow, or a deer that was hunted personally. There is a major difference though in which one of these meats we choose to consume.
Methane: A cow on average releases 70 to 120kg’s of methane gas a year (There are apparently 1.5 Billion cows and bulls worldwide)
Grain finishing or feed lotting changes the omega 6 and 3 ratio from 3:1, to the unhealthy range of 24:1. Its also likely to travel thousands of miles to make it to your plate, and may not be native to your country.
Cows have room to roam around the pasture
Not treated with antibiotics, cows are under less stress because of better conditions
Methane Gas is still an issue, though because cows are eating grass, they no longer suffer from stomach acidity and ulcers, this will reduce environmental impact while increasing the health of the cows.
Almost all Kangaroos harvested in Australia live in rangeland. These areas are great for grazing, and contain water sources on average between 3 to 10kms apart, although Roo’s have adapted to survive without water for quite a while.
Health and Well Being
Outside of restricted commercial hunting, it is illegal to hunt Kangaroo. Because of these factors the majority of Kangaroo in Australia are free to live naturally in the wild with adequate resources.
Compared to cattle, the impact Kangaroo cause is extremely low. In terms of the impact of us harvesting Kangaroo for meat, there are many diverse opinions. Some environmental groups support eating kangaroo meat as a sustainable alternative to cattle, while some argue that the kangaroo population is diminishing, and that the amount of meat that the animal provides is not worth it being killed.
Each year every state is required to survey it’s Kangaroo population. Estimates in recent years have the Kangaroo population at over 35 Million. Overpopulation is an issue, but at the same time many are concerned about sending the Kangaroo into endangerment.
Only four species of Kangaroo may be harvested for meat, at a maximum quota of 15 to 20 percent of the population. Usually far less than this percentage are harvested as current demand does not require it. Because of this, as well as the fact that Kangaroo’s are a symbol of Australia, I believe that the industry will act with enough common sense and restriction to continue operating sustainably.
Kangaroo meat is high protein, extremely low fat, and a very high source of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). Possibly the best thing in a world of miss leading labels at supermarkets is that you know the kangaroo lived wild, and that it lived in Australia.
Kangaroos are able to live wild until harvest, have a small environmental foot print compared to cattle, are in sustainable numbers, and are one of the most nutritious meats you will find.
References and Further Reading