Eat bunnies

Published on August 21st, 2014 | by Becky Striepe

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Rabbit Meat at Whole Foods: Why is it worse than other meat?

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Rabbit Meat at Whole Foods: Why is it worse than other meat?

There are protests planned against rabbit meat at Whole Foods, but how is rabbit meat any worse than pig meat or cow meat?

Select Whole Foods throughout the U.S. are going to start selling rabbit meat, and from what I’m reading, people are mad about it. When Jill Ettinger wrote about rabbit meat at Whole Foods earlier this week, we got a few outraged comments.

I can understand folks in the vegan community getting upset about rabbit meat. We don’t eat any animal products, and adding an animal to the list feels like a step backward. But many of the protestors against rabbit meat at Whole Foods eat meat themselves. Just not bunnies.

This whole thing reminds me a little bit of what Tanya Sitton had to say during the Burger King horse meat scandal last year. If you’re revulsed at the idea of eating a bunny or a horse, how do you justify eating other animals who are just as personable and experience pain in the same way that a rabbit does?

I’m not saying that I’m down with rabbit meat at Whole Foods. I am confused about how we as a society decide which animals we will and won’t eat.

Why is it not okay to eat a rabbit, but it’s okay to eat a pig, who is an intelligent, social creature? Why is it not okay to eat a rabbit, but it’s okay to eat a cow, who has the capacity to form friendships with her kin? Why is it not okay to eat a rabbit, but it’s okay to eat a chicken, who also has the ability to form friendships, even across the species line?

I am genuinely curious about the line in the animal kingdom between what is and isn’t socially acceptable to eat. Are you upset about rabbit meat at Whole Foods? How do you feel about eating other animals or exploiting them for their milk or eggs? As a long-time vegan, I feel that every death is a tragedy, whether it’s a sweet bunny rabbit or a turkey slaughtered for the Thanksgiving table. From that perspective, it’s hard to understand how to draw that line.

Image Credit: Bunnies photo via Shutterstock



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

    I agree COMPLETELY. I, for one, have no problem with eating duck, cow, goat, shark, turtle, gator (mmm … gator tail), etc., including horse and rabbit and (gasp!) probably cuddlier animals, still, in the underbelly of San Francisco’s Chinatown. If you’re OK with eating one, you need to be OK with the other animals. If you decide that one group of animals is too cute or too smart or whatever, then you really need to rethink eating ANY meat, IMO.

  • disqus_BNbEfrPmXP

    I don’t understand what’s the problem with rabbit meat. It’s no different from eating Beef, Chicken, or Pork. And for fact that rabbits have been raised for there meat since medieval times and hunted long before that.

    • MarleneSarin

      yeah you’re right:

      • MartinRHillsBoxer

        yep you all eat them all diseased, with head tilt, bunch of antibiotics and panacur which won’t get rid of the parasites since they are all enclosed mmy yummy to your tummy and body but don’t complain later you are sick alright? I for one won’t eat rabbit…bye whole foods. whole foods isn’t transparent. and heard their 365 “organics” come from none other than CHINA. great…how organic can that get? I trust mexico before I trust china

  • Gary

    FOOLS!!! Dom you think for a moment that the early settlers on this Continent went to McDonald’s when they got off the Boat? I grew up poor and as such I have killed and eaten may rabbits and squirrels. I have even caught Blue Gill fish on a hook after spearing a worm on a hook. they quiverrrrred when I descaled them anf cut their heads off. I have hooked minnows and goldfish through the lips to catch crappie and bass. Rabbits are delicious slow roasted over a fire or pan fried in bacon grease.

  • susanmeanslily

    I believe in anima welfare while that animal is alive and a quick death. After death, animals don’t feel anything, so I don’t understand not eating the meat from animal that have been domesticated for that purpose for thousands of years. I was ranch/farm raised and we grew our own food, including meat. My 4-h rabbits, steers and sheep were butchered, and had their names on their package’s out of respect.

    • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

      Nicely done! The steer our family is “keeping” this year is named Cinnamon Bear. He is adorable, sweet, and is living the high life on an open ranch. I expect he will be delicious.

  • LouieCocroft

    Somehow, the issue gets misconstrued. It is not about what people choose to eat. That is a personal choice.
    The problem is the way animals are treated WHILE THEY ARE STILL ALIVE.
    The industry does not differentiate between dead and alive. Industry is only concerned about profit, nothing else.
    A Horse or Burro that is sent to slaughter is treated as though it was already dead, while it is still very much alive. From the auction, to the livestock trucks, to the final end at the slaughter house….it is a living Hell for them. THAT is the issue.

    • susanmeanslily

      My dad was a cattle order-buyer. He bought calves at sale barns that were raised on grassy pastures, then they were trucked to feedlots. After that, they went to processing plants. Every step of the way is to keep stress to the minimum and you don’t abuse the animals…for one thing, it hurts the product (meat) which hurts your profit. Stressed animals are also more prone to go off their feed (lose weight) and get sick.
      Although I haven’t been involved in horse slaughter, I believe it would be the same process. If a business wants to stay in business, you keep stress levels down, because stressed animals are more likely to injure themselves and injure their handlers. You take care to not cause injury…not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because bruising damages the meat…it has to be cut off and discarded.
      I don’t know very many people who are in the livestock industry who don’t care about animals and don’t treat them well. There are always exceptions, just as there are people who run sanctuaries who neglect their animals.
      All animals can be slaughtered humanely. It has to do with people who know what they are doing and good management. I would much rather have domestic horse slaughter that was tightly regulated that have horses leave out county, and I think having several local processing plants to keep transportation stress to a minimum would be easier on the horses. I know many people, I’m one of them, who would volunteer older horses that need to be put down to food banks or soup kitchens if there was a local processor to take the horse to, like horses are now hauled to a horse sale. That would be much easier on the horses and the seller could sign the necessary paperwork to make sure the horse meat didn’t have drugs. Currently, there are too many go-betweens, the horses change hands too many times and get hauled too far and with unfamiliar horses…all adding to the stress. The transportation and unfamiliar horses is harder that the kill box. That’s over with quickly.

  • LouieCocroft

    That is why it is better to trade with the small and/or Family-owned farms, but they are almost an “endangered species” at this point in time.
    Corporate agribusiness is driving them out, Corporations are all about the bottom line…nothing else.
    Ag Gag bills would not be necessary if there were nothing to hide.

  • LouieCocroft

    There is no such thing as “humane” Horse slaughter. There is FAR too much documentation to the contrary….from the auction to the livestock trucks to the slaughter house.

    http://www.vetsforequinewelfare.org/white_paper.php
    VEW White Paper

    Horse Slaughter –
    Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response of the Veterinary Profession

    Horse slaughter has never been considered by veterinary professionals to be a form of euthanasia. Congress and the general public must hear from veterinarians that horse slaughter is not and should not be equated with
    humane euthanasia.

    Rather, the slaughtering of horses is a brutal and predatory
    business that promotes cruelty and neglect and which claimed the lives of more
    than 100,000 American horses in 2008

    Horse slaughter is not a form of humane euthanasia, nor is it a “necessary evil”. The horse slaughter industry is a predatory one that exists only because there is a profit to be made by fulfilling consumer demand in overseas markets for horse flesh. Rather than aiding horse welfare, as slaughter proponents contend, horse slaughter results in very tangible animal cruelty and suffering while engendering abuse and neglect. Currently, horse owners have a choice of what to do at the end of their horse’s life – pay to do the right thing or be paid to do the wrong
    thing. In promoting horse slaughter as a form of humane euthanasia,
    professional veterinary associations do a disservice to the animals they are
    meant to care for. For these reasons,

    VEW supports an end to horse slaughter and advocates quick passage of
    The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S.1176).

  • John Holland

    I won’t offer an argument about why the life of one species is worth more than another. I am a vegetarian myself for the reasons the author offers as well as health issues.
    Having said that, there is another whole level that comes into play with horses. While cattle and pigs are raised for slaughter, horses are not (at least in the US). As a result they are given a wide range of substances that are totally forbidden in meat animals. So even if the only concern is for humans, horse meat is still a bad choice.

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