Warning! This post will definitely contain images and video of dead, cooked animal and the eating of said dead animal. So if that bothers you, exit now.
I like to eat adventurously while I travel because I like to learn about a culture through its food.
Eating kangaroo in Australia happens to be as normal as eating venison is where I'm from in upstate New York. Kangaroos overpopulate Australian lands causing hundreds of car accidents a year just like white-tailed deer in the USA. I never ate venison back home, but this trip isn't about doing what I normally do.
It's about deviating the norm.
I actually stopped eating red meat at a young age. A 12-year-old me defiantly proclaimed to my parents, "Please stop cooking me hamburgers and steaks and, for that matter, pork chops and lamb." I just didn't like the way any of it tasted. Eventually my reason for rejecting most meat types became political, too.
However, I'm all about expanding my horizons, opening my mind to new ideas, and redefining old values.
Deviating from my usual norm is how I constantly check myself in an effort to live authentically. Deviating also helps me open up to other people's ways of thinking, making me a more understanding, empathetic individual. It's what travel does for me. And that's what eating things like Kangaroo in Australia does for me.
In light of ethical eating, here are some positives I learned about eating kangaroo in Australia:
- Kangaroo was traditionally a major food source of the Aborigines
- Organizations like Greenpeace and Australian Wildlife Services support a switch to kangaroo harvesting from livestock farming because of its ecological benefits
- Introduced livestock (sheep) produce more methane, a greenhouse gas emission, than kangaroos
- Livestock accounts for 90% grazing pressure while kangaroos need less water and no additional feed
- Kangaroos live a free and natural life (unlike farmed animals) up until their death
- Australia’s strict Code of Practice implores hunters to minimize animal suffering by shooting to kill instantly
- Kangaroo meat is healthier than other meats as it is lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein
Of course there is a lot of debate about all of this in Australia. Proposals against eating kangaroo include fears of developing kangaroo farms to counteract a devastated kangaroo population due to the switch over from introduced livestock and concerns regarding the reality of not-so-instant kills due to hunters’ lack of education and training.
Alas, I was about to join in the debate purely from a taste perspective.
I found myself sitting at Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick awaiting my peppered kangaroo fillet with honey & rosemary jus. It would be served over a sweet potato & beetroot salad.
I was curious if not a little scared. I mean, I was about to drive across the country where I’d surely encounter many kangaroos (and I did, that’s how I got that adorable picture of Kanga and Roo up there). I feared they might know I had eaten their Uncle and seek revenge. I was not prepared to enter a boxing match with an 8 foot kangaroo.
Initially, I had asked Cyndi, sitting across from me, if I should get the roo burger.
"Oh no, if you want to eat kangaroo how people usually eat it, you have to have the steak. And you have to have it with a glass of red wine."
Done and done.
Here’s the verdict captured on video:
Marinated to perfection, this slightly gamey, more-like-lamb-tasting wild meat was actually not so bad.
Nevertheless, I'm happy to stick to my usual eating habits when I return to the USA!
Oh, and for the record, I got away unscathed. No boxing matches were had during my travels in Oz.