Beef vs Kangaroo meat which is better?
By Luke Daley RNutr, MSc from Daley Nutrition | 28,297 views
Brief Overview of Beef vs Kangaroo Meat
Beef vs Kangaroo meat………? This is a question that is commonly being asked by the public, especially after the release of the 2017 Netflix documentary called ‘What the Heath’. As a nutrition business and family, we are keen advocates for reducing our carbon footprint and so we wrote this blog post for others looking for answers on how they can eat more sustainable red meat sources. In 2016 we were featured in the Daily Mail talking about this blog post.
Beef has played a significant role in Australia since the first fleet arrived in 1788 with just 6 cattle (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012). Approximately 66% of Australian land is occupied by farming, the majority is used for grazing of livestock such as cows and sheep (Australian Government, 2015). Beef is a big money-making industry, which attracts large corporate investors searching for higher profit margins. The beef industry employs 200,00 workers and is one of the largest industries in Australia.
On the positive side beef contains a good source of many key nutrients our bodies needs such as protein, zinc, iron, Vitamins B12 and B6. But it also can contain high levels of saturated fats, which can be bad for our cardiovascular health. For more information on regular mince vs lean beef mince, view our other blog post for more information on this.
The research into beef sustainability starts with a 2008 report from The United Nations talking about how the greenhouse emissions from raising livestock for meat and dairy. Apparently, the industry produces more greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions than petrol and diesel guzzling cars and lorries combined every year in developed countries (very worrying if you are a carer for our environment). To produce 1 pound of beef (3 beef burgers) it takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water (Wahlqvist et al, 2011). The report, in particular, refers to the waste products produced by the livestock industry that enter our major water sources such as the Murray-Darling Basin (Australia). These waste products damage our natural wildlife and the quality of the water.
What about Grass Fed Beef?
Grass-fed animals produce a different fat profile compared to grain-fed animals. The animals tend to have less saturated fat, more muscle meat and higher omega-3 polyunsaturated, which research has shown us can have a beneficial effect on our health. The conventional beef fed on grains has a higher polyunsaturated omega-6 profile, which promotes a pro-inflammatory state and produces more inflammation in the body. The big drawback for farmers and investors of grass-fed beef is that it takes an extra 8 more months to produce beef compared to the conventional method. Added to this the cows need 8 more months worth of water, food, producing more by-product gases such as methane, which has shown to damage our ozone layer, so the benefit isn’t as good as you might expect.
So does this mean that we should avoid all meat and turn to a more vegetarian based diet? Maybe……but not entirely. We can get a range of nutrients from red meat, such as protein, B-vitamins (importantly B-6 and B12), also zinc and iron, which I will talk about later. If you do choose beef, make sure it is lean beef mince, we are often asked which is best – lean mince vs normal mince? Basically, the leaner a meat is the less saturated fat is it in which is always a good thing.
But the main focus for our future should be to find more sustainable meat sources that do not release as many GHG…….bring on Skippy to the rescue in the fight for beef vs kangaroo meat.
Is Kangaroo Meat Sustainable?
Unlike beef and lamb, kangaroo’s are not farmed for their meat but shot in their natural environment by professional shooters, who have to abide by a specific code or practice. Harsh you may think? But in fact, this process of producing meat is a more ethical and less stressful method on the animal compared to raising, farming and slaughtering of beef and lamb for example.
According to an Australian survey conducted by The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (2008), consumers were deterred from eating Kangaroo due to its welfare and the ethics of killing. Also, it has been suggested Kangaroo meat has been seen for many years as food for domestic animals (cats, dogs) in the western world and why would you want to eat what you feed to your dog?! So below we have included a tasty kangaroo recipe, which tastes amazing and is extremely healthy.
Kangaroo Kale Chili Con Carne. This recipe we use in our cooking demonstrations across Melbourne, the recipe is quick easy and full of flavour. We find that the different taste you get from kangaroo can turn people away from the meat, however using it in a bolognese or a con carne masks the slightly metallic taste you get from it. We have trialled it out with our child and friends and they can’t really taste the difference, please let us know your family can taste the difference.
For more details on the nutrition comparison between beef & kangaroo carry on read down this blog post……
The benefits of Kangaroo meat
OK let’s explore some of the big topics around beef vs kangaroo meat:
- Switching cow and sheep farms with Kangaroo farming could reduce our overall GHG by 10% per year (which is massive), the target for 2020 in Australia is reduce GHG by 30%.
- Also Kangaroos require far less water than cows and sheep, they have evolved over the years to use little amounts of water and can survive in a lot hotter conditions than most animal meats.
- Cows and sheep have specific digestive systems that contain bacteria that in the process of breaking down vegetarian produce mass amounts of methane (pooweee!!). This methane contributes to GHG, Skippy on the other hand produces much less methane and again is good for our environment.
- Is there enough Kangaroo meat to go around to sustain our red meat consumption if we switched?….According to environmental scientists, there is plenty of Kangaroo to feed our nation. Stocks are in high supply across Australia and there is no worry of wiping them out (ESCO, 2008).
- In the sports nutrition world there are a lot of benefits to be had with kangaroo as it contains higher protein, omega-3 and less fat than beef. Great if you are training to increase your lean muscle mass tissue.
Beef vs Kangaroo Meat for NUTRITIONAL benefits
Beef vs Kangaroo for nutrition: this is a question we get asked by a lot of people specifically regular fitness fanatics that are interested in the environment and who consume large amount of meat for muscle building qualities. I am going to list the main difference in nutrition between the two meats, the information is according to Gourmet Game company, Australia and NUTTAB 2010.
Comparing extra lean beef to standard Kangaroo meat per 100g.
- Calories: Beef = 145kcal | Kangaroo = 100kcal
- Protein: Beef = 21.3g | Kangaroo = 22.9g
- Fat content: Beef 6.3g | Kangaroo = 1g
- Zinc levels: Beef = 5.67mg | Kangaroo = 3.05mg
- Iron levels: Beef = 1.7mg | Kangaroo = 4.1mg
- Extra benefits -omega 3 –> Kangaroo meat a moderate amount of omega 3. Beef = zero (from commercial farms).
We should ideally be thinking more sustainably nowadays to preserve our environment. Kangaroo meat can be used in replace of any red meat in a variety of dishes, for example, spaghetti bol, lasagna, BBQ food, Sunday roasts, stir fried etc. The nutrition in Kangaroo meat does out weight beef and also lamb (if you look into it).
Note of caution –> beef vs kangaroo for smell = beef wins. Unfortunately, the cooking smell of Kangaroo is strong and might put people off , but if you are adding garlic and other herbs it can mask this smell.
Beef vs Kangaroo Meat
Posted by Luke Daley, Registered Nutritionist, Msc, BSc (Hons)
Director and Founder of Daley Nutrition
A little about us….
Daley Nutrition is a community nutrition team based in Melbourne Victoria, we run a range of nutrition based programs such as workplace health programs and cooking demonstrations in Australia to raise people’s awareness of what they are eating and empower them to change certain eating habits. We work with not for profit organisations such as local councils, Diabetes Australia & Nutrition Australia to create a healthy eating environment for children and adults.
To find out more about our Nutrition Services below