This Australia Day meat eaters are being encouraged to barbecue kangaroo instead of lamb. Researchers say that the native alternative offers plenty of health and nutritional benefits.
While Australians are urged to chuck some lamb on the barbecue this Australia Day, two Deakin University researchers say we should cook a roo instead.
Why Kangaroo Meat Is Healthier Choice
Dietitian doctor Paige van der Pligt, from Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, says kangaroo was a good choice from a nutrition perspective.
“Red meat contains a type of iron called haem iron. It is better absorbed than iron from plant-based food,” she says.
“Iron is essential to help carry oxygen around the body, for brain and muscle function and to assist energy production and immunity.
“Kangaroo is an excellent source of iron as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc. These all have important functions in the body.”
Dr van der Pligt says that kangaroo was also higher in iron than some other types of meat. It was also lower in total and saturated fat and contained an important fatty acid, omega 3.
She suggests that kangaroo meat is marinated before cooking to help it stay moist. This is because it’s a lean meat with less fat.
“Remember that the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend up to 455 grams of cooked lean red meat per week for good health,” she says.
How You’ll Help Your Homeland
While lamb is spruiked as the multicultural meat, serving up roo also has some important environmental benefits.
Ecologist doctor Euan Ritchie, from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, suggested those who care about their homeland should eat more kangaroo.
“Kangaroos place about one-third of the pressure on grazing lands compared with sheep,” Dr Ritchie says.
“Hard-hoofed animals like sheep contribute to soil compaction and erosion.
Continuing to farm using a European-derived, intensive system is a recipe for further land degradation and environmental collapse. Especially with the compounding impacts of climate change.
“Native wildlife like kangaroos affect the environment less than intensively produced livestock do. Therefore they provide more sustainable options for food production on Australia’s rangelands.
“It also makes sense to eat species that are naturally more resilient and able to respond to Australia’s boom-and-bust cycles.
Dr Ritchie says Kangaroos can forage on our ancient and typically nutrient-poor soils without the need for nutritional supplements. They are also physiologically more efficient at conserving water in the prevailing arid and semi-arid conditions.
He eating kangaroo could help meet ethical concerns too.
“Wild animals such as kangaroos are killed quickly. And without the extended stress associated with industrialised farming, containment, and transportation to abattoirs,” he said.
“And by harvesting this sometimes overabundant wild animal, we may be able to reduce their impacts on ecosystems. This includes overgrazing.”