Helping the environment by eating the meat of kangaroos and wild camels, rather than traditionally farmed breeds, may seem like an unusual suggestion, but it is exactly what Australian scientists recommended recently.
Kangaroos have been proposed as an ideal breed for farming, rather than cattle or sheep, as they produce negligible amounts of the greenhouse gas methane in comparison to these introduced species and are a free-range animal.
‘For most of Australia’s human history—around 60,000 years—kangaroo was the main source of meat … it could again become important,’ noted the government’s top climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut recently in a major report on global warming.
Scientists are also recommending that Australians begin to eat camels as a way of reducing the million-strong feral herd—one of the largest on earth—which roams across the vast Australian outback. A three-year study found that these large mammals are damaging fragile desert ecosystems, water sources, rare plants and other animals.
While many people already eat kangaroo meat, scientists admit that it will be a struggle to change the nation’s eating habits and that there are various livestock and farm management issues to be overcome, such as the significant fence heights required for kangaroos and the remoteness of camel herds. They are adamant however that the numbers of sheep, cattle and camels across the nation must be cut drastically.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the ‘Save Our Squirrels’ campaign, begun in 2006 to rescue native red squirrels, has generated a market for the meat of the introduced gray squirrel with the motto, ‘Save a red, eat a gray!’ These days, squirrel meat is selling as fast as gamekeepers and hunters can deliver it to farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs and restaurants.
While some consumers are unsure about eating the cute creatures, many feel that eating squirrel is a way to do something good for the environment while enjoying a unique gastronomical experience.