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Throw another 'roo steak on the barbie...

There's a new kind of meat that's getting a lot buzz Down Under these days. Word is it's better for the planet. Or at least that's what scientists argue in a paper published in the journal Conservation Letters. Instead of feasting on the meat hacked out of "introduced ruminants" (read: cows and sheep), Australians should be enjoying the high-protein, low cholesterol steaks carved out of kangaroos.

No need to worry that the hopping marsupials are endangered, actually they're thriving out of control in some places, say researchers, thanks to the same grassland rid of trees and other vegetation to make pasture for cattle. More importantly, the jumpers don't belch or give off as much gas as cows do, because of bacteria in their stomachs that aid the digestion of grass (savvy Australian researchers are working on transferring said bacteria to cattle even as I write).

"Methane from the fore gut of cattle and sheep constitutes 11 percent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions," wrote study authors George Wilson and Melanie Edwards of Australian Wildlife Services last July. "Kangaroos, on the other hand… produce negligible amounts of methane." The switchover would also offer benefits in soil conservation (no more hooves).

The real questions are: taste and quantity. Even the biggest kangaroo doesn't produce nearly the amount of meat that comes off a cow and some argue that its meat is gamier. But Wilson and Edwards counter that much of the rangeland currently given over to cattle could be better served raising kangaroos. And that's a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from meat-eating, at least Down Under.

Credit: © iStockphoto.com/James Thew

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