Plate

WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE? More people are considering eating 'pest' animals - and even roadkill. PICTURE: Paul Preacher/www.freeimages.com

Read a newspaper or a magazine, turn on the TV or radio or spend some surfing the net and chances are you’ll come across some form of diet being touted – whether it's based on eating protein or no carbs or like a caveman (the “paleo” diet).

But one diet which is gaining some traction isn’t just about keeping healthy but also about eating sustainably for the planet Earth. Largely dismissed in eating terms in modern times, feral animals are now being seen as a possible tasty dish by a growing number of people.

While some see it simply as eating a wider range of food types, they also include those who call themselves “pestatarians” – people who only eat invasive species or ‘pests’ (not to be confused with ‘pescetarians/pescatarians’, people who eat only fish and seafood as well as vegetables but no other forms of meat.)

From rabbits to kangaroos and camels, Australia certainly has its share of pests (and, of course, we should also mention cane toads - and yes, there are those who advocate they find a place on our plates) and pestatarians say not only does harvesting them for food help clean-up the environment by removing non-native or unwanted species from an area, it also provides a ready supply of food without needing to further use environmental resources in its production.

The concept has along way to go before it gains general acceptance, however, and one challenge will be to counter the negative connotations associated with words such as ‘feral’ and ‘pests’.

The push to eat more sustainably has also led to calls for eating animals killed on the road – whether pests or not – and resulted in the coining of the term ‘roadkill cuisine’. But, like pestatarianism, that may be taking sustainability a step to far for the majority. With a rapidly growing population around the world, in the end, however, it may come down to need rather than want.