Roo steaks, buck burgers, joey ribs, boomer brisket and jill flank…all in the interest of carbon credits? After the completion of a recent study, a new proposal from the Canberra consultancy Australian Wildlife Services suggests moving towards the consumption of kangaroos as opposed to the non-native cattle and sheep on the continent.
In the National Geographic story, the study’s lead author, George Wilson, explains that kangaroos emit much less methane than sheep and cattle, because of their unique gut microbes. This government study found that “each cow produces 1.84 metric tons of greenhouse gas equivalents a year, and each sheep gives off more than 300 pounds (140 kilograms). Kangaroos, meanwhile, emit less than seven pounds (three kilograms) of greenhouse gases.” Although this would save 16 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, it’s only 3 percent of Australia’s total emission. According to Wilson, this would be worth $650 million Australian ($570 US) based on the current European carbon prices.
The EPA found that ruminant livestock (e.g. cattle, sheep, buffalo and goats) produce 80 Million metric tons of methane per year, almost a third of global methane production related to human-based causes. Cattle account for 20% of US methane emission. So what’s EPA’s suggestion to address this potentially climate-changing methane: more efficient farming practices. Huh? How about eating less beef?
It sounds like Australia is trying to come up with a unique solution that makes sense, but what about cutting back on the amount of meat we eat?
Americans consumed 28.1 billion pounds of beef in 2007, which is over 90 pounds per person for the year. Wow! That’s almost half the average weight of an adult male in the US (190 lbs). I love eating red meat in many forms, but I’ve learned to cut back my intake to only once or twice per week and I’ve noticed a difference. In addition to a general sense of ‘feeling better’ and improved digestion, I’m limiting my exposure to hormones and herbicides in the beef and reducing my risk of colon cancer and heart disease. With all the concern in this nation over health care costs in the US, why not focus on a personal lifestyle choice that people can actually change to positively affect their health?
What makes sense? Eat kangaroos instead of cattle or eat less beef in general? If you prefer the option to have more roo meat, visit the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia or Macro Meats – Gourmet Game for recipes.
Personally, I think it’s better to reduce ruminant intake to improve one’s health while earning carbon credits.