Whole Foods has been selling farmed rabbit meat in selected outlets across the U.S. for most of the summer. The company claims this is in response to customer demand, but the product has met with a very negative reaction from animal lovers and activists. Calls to boycott the chain have been in effect since June, but now rabbit advocacy groups are calling for a day of action this Saturday 17 August, 2014. Read on for details.
Whole Foods claims they have fielded requests from customers to stock rabbit meat for years, but that farming methods did not measure up to their strict animal welfare standards. After working with suppliers for four years, they finally have a product whose provenance they are satisfied with. While the U.S. has a long history of consuming rabbit meat, particularly during WW2 when it was an important source of protein, its popularity has languished while demand for chicken meat has soared. It is having a resurgence in popularity due to interest in heirloom animal breeds, nose-to-tail food philosophies and DIY homesteading practices.
However, that rabbits are now the third most popular companion mammal in the U.S. after dogs and cats also goes a long way to explaining why so many community members object to their consumption. It is estimated that there are approximately three million pet rabbits in the country. Whole Foods currently stocks rabbit meat in selected stores in Northern California, the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, the north Atlantic, Northeast, South and Pacific Northwest. The rabbits sourced are Iowa-raised New Zealand rabbits, which are a popular pet breed.
The House Rabbit Society website has plenty of information on the farming and butchering process involved in the Whole Foods product. Over three dozen activist and advocacy groups are participating in the Day of Action this Saturday, 17 August, 2014. If you object to Whole Foods’ sale of rabbit meat and would like to participate too, you can find a list of organized protests here, as well as downloadable posters and fliers to print out and take along. There is also an online petition requesting that Whole Foods stop selling rabbit meat.