People around the world have contradicting opinions when it comes to eating rabbits.
When asked, “Are bunnies pets or livestock?”
Well, answers may vary depending on the place and the culture you live in.
Continue reading to discover:
- 9 surprising answers about rabbit meat.
- The advantages and dangers of eating bunnies.
- Whether it’s legal to farm and raise them for meat production.
- And a lot more…
#1: Do people eat rabbits?
People eat rabbits. But, it’s not as common as eating pork, beef, or chicken. Some countries farm and raise rabbits for their meat. While others find it controversial because of ethical and profit issues.
#2: What is rabbit meat called?
Cow meat is called beef. And the pig is pork.
But just like chicken, rabbit meat is just that.
However, farmers have come up with names for rabbits processed for meat.
This is to categorize the rabbits according to age.
A fryer is 8-10 weeks old, making them the youngest category.
And they have the most tender meat.
These rabbits are 10 weeks – 6 months old.
Now, the roaster’s flesh is firmer and darker. So, despite the name, they’re not best for roasting.
Instead, you can cook the meat by braising or stewing.
These are bunnies aged over 6 months.
And they have tough meat with a coarse texture. So like roasters, they’re best braised or stewed.
#3: Is it cruel to eat a rabbit?
Eating a rabbit can be cruel. However, in Europe, it’s not a big issue at all.
Moreover, intensive rabbit farming is what you can consider unethical.
And when I say intensive, I’m talking about a big farming environment. This is where rabbits are being raised for large, commercial production.
And this is also where they live a miserable life.
“How are they miserable?” You may ask.
Let me explain.
Cramped, barren cages
You may think there’s nothing wrong with putting bunnies in a cage. That’s because some bunny parents normally do it.
But imagine 3 rabbits housed in a cage as short as an A4 paper. Then they won’t be able to move comfortably.
What’s more, this cage has nothing but a feeder and drinker.
That said, this is a cruel environment for a rabbit….
Because there’s no room for stimulating activities. So they’ll most probably end up stressed.
Reading tip: Signs of a stressed rabbit
Rabbits in intensive farms easily get sick. And some even die from disease before they get slaughtered.
A reason for this is that most commercial farms aren’t well maintained. So, this makes the bunnies more prone to bacteria.
Another reason is the abusive treatment of does (female breeding rabbits).
To explain, studies show that artificial insemination is also effective in bunnies.
However, commercial rabbit farmers do this too frequently. So the doe’s body can’t fully recover from pregnancy.
Lastly, the farm cages have mesh wired floors.
You see, bunnies have delicate feet. So the wires can hurt them.
And worse, this can result in a skin infection called sore hocks.
You can also check out: What to put in a bottom of a rabbit cage
Animal lawyer Taylor Budnick states that in the US…
There’s a requirement for stunning livestock animals before slaughter.
However, rabbits aren’t included in this law. That’s because they’re not considered livestock.
And although some rabbit farmers attempt to stun bunnies…
They’re not always successful. And this usually ends with the rabbit suffering a painful death.
#4: Are all rabbits edible?
Hunters can eat any wild rabbits as long as they’re cooked properly.
While for domestic ones…
These are the specific breeds farmed for meat:
- English spot.
- Flemish giants.
- Californian white.
- New Zealand white.
- Champagne d’Argent.
Farmers use other rabbits for fur. And some are for laboratory experiments.
#5: What are the advantages of eating rabbit meat?
Did you notice that more and more people are considering this animal’s flesh?
Is it really better than beef and pork?
Let’s find out.
Rabbit meat is sustainable
These animals are commonly raised and farmed in small backyards.
And it’s easy to do. That’s because rabbits are clean and quiet. So, you won’t be getting complaints from your neighbors.
Additionally, bunnies reproduce quickly.
That said if you raise them right…
You’ll be producing a large number of rabbits in no time.
Plus, they’re not expensive to feed.
It’s a healthy source of protein
Your body needs protein to build muscles.
And WebMD says a good source for that said nutrient is rabbit meat.
Rabbit meat is lean
Lean meat has little to no fat. So that means rabbit meat has low cholesterol and calorie value.
If that’s the case, you won’t need to worry about eating this…
Because it’s good for the heart.
It has a mild flavor
Rabbit meat is somewhat similar to chicken.
It’s white meat and tastes mild.
That makes it a versatile ingredient in cooking…
Because you can easily add other flavors.
#6: What are the dangers of eating rabbit meat?
Just like livestock meat, rabbits are safe to eat.
However, you have to make sure that it’s cooked well.
Because raw meat can be bacteria carriers.
Another danger in eating this animal is psychological.
To be precise, if you live in a country where people consider rabbits as pets…
You may find it wrong to eat them.
As a result, your mind will be battling some ethical issues.
#7: In which countries do people eat rabbit meat?
Like I’ve said, people’s mindset about rabbit meat varies. And it mostly depends on which country they live in.
According to studies, China is the major rabbit meat producer.
That’s because they have lots of intensive rabbit farms. And they mostly produce this food for export.
And in Europe, Italy is the strongest in rabbit meat consumption. This explains why it’s commonly found in their menus.
Other countries that widely consume this meat are:
- North Korea.
Now, in the United States, some people do eat rabbits. But it’s uncommon and even controversial.
#8: Is it legal to eat rabbits in the US?
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t ban rabbit meat. So it’s not illegal.
But as I’ve said, it also doesn’t classify bunnies as livestock.
Furthermore, bunnies are more popular as pets rather than as food.
So, rabbit meat consumption is more common in rural areas. And most of the produce comes from small backyard farms.
If you’re interested to know how to raise rabbits in your backyard…
You can watch this video:
#9: Why did we stop eating rabbits?
We didn’t stop eating rabbits. But we did have some issues with it.
As per research, having bunnies as food traces back to ancient civilizations. And many people ate this during the years of the Great Depression and both World Wars.
Today, while it’s still pretty common in Europe and China…
Rabbit consumption has declined worldwide.
Let’s look at some of the reasons.
They’re too cute to eat
Rabbits are gentle, fluffy creatures. And that’s why they make good pets.
So, because they’re well known as cute fluffy buddies…
Some people can’t imagine eating them.
Even if rabbits are healthier to eat than beef or pork…
Most humans still wouldn’t eat them.
This is mainly because a rabbit isn’t considered normal meat. That said the safety of its consumption is still questionable.
Studies stated that several diseases badly affected the rabbit farming industry.
In the 1950s and 1960s, myxomatosis was a big problem for farmers. What’s more is that in the 1990s, calicivirus spread in China.
These outbreaks have been difficult to control. So a lot of rabbit farms had to shut down.
Many animal activists have been protesting against rabbit meat consumption. They call the producers bunny butchers.
This is because of the inhumane farming of rabbits.
You see, rabbit slaughter isn’t inspected in the US. So, activists believe that big rabbit farms mistreat bunnies.
Not only that…
But they also protest against supermarkets that sell rabbit meat.