Before 1788, kangaroo was a popular meat in Australia. Then the Europeans arrived with their sheep and cattle and dramatically impacted local cuisine and landscape.
Cows and sheep, with their cloven hoofs, cause erosion and damage the fragile Australian ecosystem. But kangaroo, having evolved with the landscape, have soft feet that don’t degrade the fragile rangeland.
There’s one more reason why kangaroo are less damaging to the ecosystem, they don’t produce methane. They have special bacteria in their stomach lining, so unlike cows and sheep which emit an estimated 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gasses, kangaroo can digest without emitting any methane.
Since populations of many species of kangaroo have exploded beyond natural levels, the Australian government allows landowners to cull millions of kangaroo every year, but until relatively recently it wasn’t a very well-considered meat among many white Australians and politicians.
In this video, we talk to Australian chef Jean Paul Bruteneau who helped advocate to change the laws to allow kangaroo to be eaten by humans in New South Wales (In 1993, it became legal in the entire country in 1993).
Today it’s legal throughout Australia and gaining popularity- especially at high end restaurants-, since it’s organic and low in fat. There’s still some resistance from animal rights activists (e.g. Paul McCartney and Judy Dench) and those who still view it as pet food (much of the culled kangaroo do end up this way).
Recently a group of former vegetarians in Sydney decided to make kangaroo the only meat they eat. Calling themselves kangatarians, they claim that kangaroo is an ethical choice because the animals spend their lives roaming free and are killed humanely.
We talked with Bruteneau at the restaurant Deep Blue Bistro in Coogee (Sydney).