By Niel Vaughan

    While buying dog food once I chanced upon a vacuum-sealed pack of kangaroo jerky at the check-out counter. Opened it. Smelled it. Crunched on it. “Needs salt,” I said, chomping away as the eyes of the cashier widened.” You can’t eat that… only homeless people eat roadkill… kangaroos have worms!”

    They don’t. But the stigma persists. Only half of Australians have ever tasted kangaroo and less than a quarter of them eat it more than four times a year. Most kangaroo meat is exported to the markets and restaurants of France and Germany; the hides are sold as sought-after K-leather to the likes of Nike, Puma and Adidas.

    What those importing kangaroo are looking for is something unique. The smells and tastes of our land. Saltbush bite under pristine skies at sunset. Bouncing in the bush, feasting only on ancient native grasses and clean streams. The hopping of the kangaroo is that certain something lost in the domestication of beef, lamb, pork and chicken. Stagnant muscles don’t develop a comparable depth of flavour.

    As our cooking techniques improved humans have become lazy at chewing. The most common description of beef is ‘melt in the mouth’. Meat should not melt in the mouth. It needs to be chewed to release the flavours from the inner fibres of the cut. Mastication equals flavour. Our indigenous Australians and immigrants know this. But cooking soft, succulent kangaroo is not tough. Think slow deep dishes for winter and thin-sliced strips for stir-fries in the summer.

    If the flavour is not sufficient to entice, here are some other reasons to consider kangaroo as a red-meat staple on your plate.


    All kangaroo is organic, free-range and traceable to its source. And, this is a biggie, the production of kangaroo meat does not require grain production to support it. It doesn’t get more natural or pure than this.


    According to insurance statistics, kangaroos are involved in 80% of Australia’s 20 000 plus animal-vehicle collisions annually. And the thing about the worms is BS — also bad for the environment.

    Animal welfare

    Kangaroo meat demands the most humane practices and stringent regulations of any commercial meat in the world. Traceable to the shoot. The last moments of the kangaroo — critical in keeping the adrenaline out of the bloodstream and spoiling the taste — is a gentle chew on late-night grass under the stars… and then not.


    If we eat more kangaroo, its value will increase to the point where it would be more economical to wild farm. We would see livestock paddies returned to a state of pre-industrialisation.

    Personal argument

    Eating anything native is eating in abundance with a fraction of the energy modern agriculture needs. That is a bit of a silver bullet to living in a modern, environmentally friendly and harmonious way with the land.

    Australia, with so many of her gifts, offers the very best in ethical practice and taste.

    Let’s honour that on the plate.


    Niel Vaughan
    Niel Vaughan
    Niel Vaughan is a journalist and web developer who reads and writes on the intersections of Food, Science and People.

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