Some People Aren’t Thrilled Whole Foods Is Selling Rabbit Again

A judge reaches for a Mini Lop rabbit during show competition at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois State Fair begins Friday, Aug. 8 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 17. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
A judge reaches for a Mini Lop rabbit during show competition at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Springfield, Ill.
AP

Would you eat rabbit meat?

Whole Foods is wagering that at least some of its customers will. After a four-year hiatus, the chain recently started selling rabbit meat once again.

At least a few people are hopping mad.

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Rabbit protection groups around the country held a “peaceful leafleting” protest on Sunday, August 17, to boycott the selling of rabbit meat at the popular grocery chain, according to The House Rabbit Society, a California-based group that describes itself as a nonprofit, activist organization that rescues and adopts rabbits.

Protests took place at some Whole Foods locations, including West Hollywood, Calif. The House Rabbit Society had planned a protest locally, but a store manager at the Whole Foods on Alewife Parkway in Cambridge said no such protest took place. Suzanne Trayhan, a rabbit advocate, disagrees and said she and about 25 other people attended a protest throughout the day Sunday.

Debbie Carron, licensed educator with the Connecticut chapter of The House Rabbit Society, said she considered the protest at a Whole Foods in Glastonbury, Conn., to be “very effective.” She and about 20 other activists turned out this past weekend.

“We took an educational outreach approach,” Carron said. “We weren’t chanting or doing anything over-the-top.” Carron said they got about 70 signatures on a national petition to stop Whole Foods sale of rabbit meat.

According to The Bunny World Foundation, whose website states they supported the Whole Foods protests, “2.5 million households now live with pet rabbits.” A petition on change.org with 13, 307 supporters is also requesting that Whole Foods stores stop selling rabbit meat.

Regardless of how rabbits are raised, every breed is a domesticated pet that can be found at the Humane Society and at hundreds of rabbit rescues across the nation. Please move in the direction of compassion and realize these animals are pets, not food.

An April 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times states that rabbit is “going through a renaissance of sorts,” and becoming a much-accepted American fare. Not only does the meat sound “exotic” to diners tired of the standard chicken or beef option, it’s also fairly sustainable.

According to Slow Food USA, rabbit can produce 6 pounds of meat using the same amount of food and water it takes for a cow to produce only 1 pound. Not to mention the health benefits. Rabbit is a lean meat that is higher in protein but lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than many other meats, including chicken, beef and pork.

Not to mention rabbit meat is halal and acceptable for Hindus who decline beef for religious reasons, according to Time Magazine. They also procreate rapidly, are easily digestible, and can survive on grain-free diets, which saves farmers a lot of money.

And a Los Angeles Times article from 1943 stated that rabbits were “patriotic food” and were helping win World War II.

Along with victory gardens, rabbits helped put food on the table when much of the nation’s supply was shipped to soldiers overseas and ration stamps provided less at home.

According to Whole Foods’s website, their animal welfare standards for rabbit include “more than 75 species-specific requirements that ensure the overall health and well-being of the animals.” The standards, released in September 2013, resulted from a four-year process of addressing what they describe as “welfare issues” surrounding domestic farms’ rabbit production. They include daily inspections of the rabbits, continuous access to water and food, treatments for illnesses and parasites, and feedback from the slaughter plants.

Rabbit is being sold at multiple Whole Foods in the Boston area: Store employees said customers can pick up their meat for $9.99 a pound at the Charles River Plaza, Charlestown, and Brighton locations.

If you’re not horrified by the idea of eating the furry critters, The New York Times boasts a recipe for rabbit stew that will “keep the winter at bay.”

The Whole Foods spokesperson for the North Atlantic region could not be immediately reached for comment.

Have an opinion on Whole Foods selling rabbit meat? Tweet me @Jhofherr29.