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noun [countable]

someone who chooses not to eat fish or meat except the meat from a kangaroo




noun [uncountable]

'Australia is witnessing the emergence of kangatarians – those who eat only vegetables and kangaroo meat …'

Independent (Eire) 13th February 2010

'Vine's kangatarian lifestyle choice has rubbed off on her friends, with many of them now eating kangaroo regularly.'

Brisbane Times 9th February 2010

'Kangatarianism – roo stew? … Kangatarians exclude all meat except kangaroo on environmental and humanitarian grounds.'

ABC Brisbane 10th February 2010

If you're a strict advocate of vegetarianism but are getting a little tired of meat substitutes such as Quorn or soya, how about the prospect of a 'roo-burger', or maybe even a 'kanga-steak'? If you're thinking that this is some kind of unpleasant joke, then you'd be wrong – yes, it seems that there's a new breed of vegetarian who has made a conscious decision to eat kangaroo meat, and kangaroo meat only, and – surprise, surprise – they're being called kangatarians.

In early 2010 a number of Antipodean media sources reported that Australia was witnessing the emergence of a new brand of vegetarianism in which people limit their diet to vegetables and kangaroo meat. For those vegetarians who reject meat for ethical and environmental reasons, but do not dislike its taste, it seems that kangatarianism is the answer.

the majority of Australians have yet to embrace the idea of eating kangaroo meat, which has up to now been confined largely to specialist butchers and high-class restaurants

Bizarre as it may seem to those of us for whom the word kangaroo conjures up images of adorable bouncy creatures epitomized by 'Skippy' and A.A. Milne's 'Kanga', the arguments for kangatarianism have a solid basis. Kangaroos are in plentiful supply in Australia and can be killed humanely by a single shot. They eat only natural vegetation and do not require any additional feed, water, or cleared land. They roam freely and do not need to be battery- or industrially-farmed, so their meat is truly organic. Kangaroo meat is also very healthy, being low in fat and rich in iron, so is good for the heart and for people trying to lower their cholesterol. Kangaroos also emit a fraction of the methane produced by sheep and cows, so are also a better choice for people concerned about climate change.

Despite these compelling arguments however, the majority of Australians have yet to embrace the idea of eating kangaroo meat, which has up to now been confined largely to specialist butchers and high-class restaurants. It remains to be seen whether the rise of the kangatarian will make the kanga banga (kangaroo-meat sausage) a staple of the Australian diet.

Background – kangatarian

The idea of kangatarianism began in early 2009 when a small group of friends in Sydney learnt about the benefits of kangaroo meat and decided to pass their knowledge on. Notable in spreading the word was kangaroo-meat advocate Peter Ampt, a lecturer in natural resource management at Sydney University. The word kangatarian started out as a joke, but then began to catch on as more people became interested in the concept. Perhaps even more surprisingly, more than one form of kangatarianism has now been proposed, such as pesco-kangatarianism for those who augment their vegetarian diet with kangaroo and seafood; pollo-kangatarianism for those who eat kangaroo and poultry; and pollo-pesco-kangatarianism for those who consume all three.

The sole use of the word kangaroo in reference to both the animal and the meat from it has sparked debate in Australia, some arguing that there should be a more neutral, euphemistic term for the meat analogous to pork or beef. Candidate terms proposed by Australia's Kangaroo Industry Association include australus, jumpmeat and even rooviande (viande is the French word for meat).

Kangatarian follows in the footsteps of other 21st century neologisms in the same domain, such as pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), flexitarian (a vegetarian who eats meat very occasionally), ecovore (a person who eats in an environmentally-conscious way) and locavore (a person who only eats locally-sourced food).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 10th January 2011.

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