http://www.thenutritionpress.com/kangaroo/There is a whole spectrum of reasons why a person may decide to go vegetarian. For some, it is the belief that a vegetarian diet will help them live longer, while others simply don’t like the taste of meat. An important factor for a lot of people, however, is the concept of ethics. Nobody likes hearing about the suffering that farm animals have endured in order to put food on their plate. The thought of moaning, distressed cattle being ushered into the abattoir is enough to make your porterhouse steak suddenly seem far less appetising. Furthermore, conventional livestock such as cattle and sheep are having a damaging effect on the environment, accounting for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.
That’s more than what is produced by all forms of transport. Kangatarianism is the word used to describe people who primarily follow a plant-based diet, with one exception: kangaroo meat. The lifestyle choice may offer somewhat of a solution to the complications that vegetarians are commonly faced with, depending on your interpretation of ethical principles.
Going vegetarian or vegan may seem like a good option if you feel bound by certain moral cues. Unfortunately, having principles may come at a cost:
- Whilst it is possible to adequately meet nutrient requirements from a plant-based diet, it can become a very time-consuming and complex affair. Nutritional inadequacy is a problem for some vegetarians; one study found that the intakes of girls following a lacto-vegetarian diet for certain micronutrients were 50-70% lower than the recommended intakes.Chiplonkar SA, Tupe R. Development of a Diet Quality Index with Special Reference to Micronutrient Adequacy for Adolescent Girls Consuming a Lacto-Vegetarian Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(6):926-31.
- Compounds in plant foods called phytates, as well as tannins found in tea, reduce the body’s ability to absorb minerals such as iron and zinc.Lönnerdal B. Dietary Factors Influencing Zinc Absorption. The Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130(5):1378S-83S.
- The form in which iron is present in animal foods, haem iron, is much easier for the body to absorb than non-haem iron.Anderson G, Frazer D, McKie A, Vulpe C, Smith A. Mechanisms of Haem and Non-Haem Iron Absorption: Lessons from Inherited Disorders of Iron Metabolism. Biometals. 2005;18(4):339-48.
- It has been established that vegans are at an increased risk of not meeting calcium needs.Weaver C, Plawecki K. Dietary calcium: Adequacy of a vegetarian diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1994;59(5):1238S.
All these factors lead to the conclusion that achieving nutritional adequacy is made much more difficult by excluding meat.
Enter kangatarianism. Proponents of the lifestyle will argue that because kangaroos spend their lives freely roaming the country, they do not suffer at the mercy of industrial farming. Kangaroos enjoy a natural lifestyle in their natural habitat, and are killed humanely. It is required by law for kangaroos to be killed by a single shot to the head by a high-powered rifle. This process results in immediate death, meaning that the kangaroo suffers minimal distress compared to the experience of farmed cattle or sheep.Zukerman W. Eating Skippy: the future of
kangaroo meat. New Scientist. 2010;208(2781):42-5. The hunting of kangaroos is just that, ethical by comparison. The fact remains that an animal has lost its life for the sake of human consumption, which for some people, is morally unacceptable. Furthermore, the Code of practice states that shooting female kangaroos should be avoided, for there is a risk that this will result in abandoned young joeys who were dependent on their mother’s care. However, kangaroos are generally shot from a reasonable distance, and the gender is not always correctly identified. If the killing of a female kangaroo results in a young-at-foot joey being left to fend for themselves, it is prescribed that they should be killed as well, with a blow to the head sufficient to destroy the brain. It is difficult to ascribe the label of ‘ethical’ to the mental image of how a situation like this may play itself out in real life. Nevertheless, ethical reasoning is entirely subjective, and the further advantages of kangaroo meat may permit a certain degree of compromise.
Consuming kangaroo meat as a replacement for beef or lamb would slash industrial methane emissions. Kangaroos produce extremely small amounts of methane, for the reason that the main bacteria present in the kangaroo gut are acetogens, not methanogens. In fact, a single cow can emit up to 600 times more greenhouse gas than a kangaroo does annually.Trivedi B. Kangaroos to the rescue. New Scientist. 2008;200(2687):48-50. Reducing methane emissions from livestock could be one of the most effective methods of combatting greenhouse gas output on a national level.
Nutritionally speaking, kangaroo meat is highly desirable compared to other meat sources. According to values obtained from NUTTAB (Nutrient Tables for use in Australia), a kangaroo loin fillet contains just 0.3g of saturated fat and as much as 3.4mg of iron per 100g. For comparative purposes, a corresponding beef loin contains 26.1g saturated fat and just 1.3mg of iron per 100g. These significant differences may be very important for an individual’s nutritional status; not only relieving one of the issues involved with excluding meat, but maximising the benefits as well.
So there you have it. Kangaroo meat has many attributes that makes the choice easy for a lot of people. The ethical reasoning is sound, there are environmental benefits, and kangaroo meat may help to more easily achieve nutritional adequacy. However, it is this concept of having the need to attach a label to the lifestyle, kangatarianism, which leads to a whole new topic of discussion. It is a relatively new notion that we have in modern society in which we, perhaps unconsciously, associate food choice with some levels of identity. The suffix ‘-ism’ is traditionally used to flag a specific ideology, potentially relating to philosophical values. Kangatarians do consume meat, yet they still want to be associated with vegetarians, conceivably for the shared value of ethical eating. These days, food choice is the furthest from simplicity as it has ever been; with so many options readily available, novel considerations are able to exert their influence on the consumer. Kangatarianism is but one of the many food-related lifestyles beginning to emerge in this modern context, yet not without merit.
Interested in having your own taste of the kangatarian lifestyle? Check out this delicious recipe for Kangaroo-gan Josh!
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||Chiplonkar SA, Tupe R. Development of a Diet Quality Index with Special Reference to Micronutrient Adequacy for Adolescent Girls Consuming a Lacto-Vegetarian Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(6):926-31.|
|2.||⇪||Lönnerdal B. Dietary Factors Influencing Zinc Absorption. The Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130(5):1378S-83S.|
|3.||⇪||Anderson G, Frazer D, McKie A, Vulpe C, Smith A. Mechanisms of Haem and Non-Haem Iron Absorption: Lessons from Inherited Disorders of Iron Metabolism. Biometals. 2005;18(4):339-48.|
|4.||⇪||Weaver C, Plawecki K. Dietary calcium: Adequacy of a vegetarian diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1994;59(5):1238S.|
|5.||⇪||Zukerman W. Eating Skippy: the future of|
kangaroo meat. New Scientist. 2010;208(2781):42-5.
|6.||⇪||Trivedi B. Kangaroos to the rescue. New Scientist. 2008;200(2687):48-50.|