On Eating Rabbits  »

Could you kill this bunny?

Would you eat him?

Mission Street Food would! And if you would like to eat some rabbit, MSF will cook you up some “rabbit rillette,” which means the dead rabbit is slow-cooked until its flesh is soft, which is then shredded, mixed with other ingredients, and made into a sort of pâté. The collaborating chef is really into eating like Native Americans did, which can be the subject of another post, when we discuss how Slow Food and locavorism are cruel, ridiculous lies. Today, bunnies.

Rabbits are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act, not in its first version in 1958, and not in its most recent version in 2002. This means that bunnies who are raised for their meat are not guaranteed the “quick, relatively painless death” that all cows, goats, pigs, and sheep must have before their bodies are cut up for your friends’ and neighbors’ tasty suppers. Rabbits are really sensitive; they scream when they’re in pain. It is the most horrible sound. I wonder if people who kill rabbits for a living have to listen to those screams all day, or if they wear earplugs or something.

Look at Nibbler up there; what do you think it’s like to be faced with a bunny like him and know that your job is to kill him? What might it be like to hold his lifeless body and think, ‘okay, time to cut the face off’? I wouldn’t open that link if I were sensitive to photographs of dead rabbits; I’ve heard they’re quite gruesome.

Obviously rabbits are excruciatingly adorable, and soft, and quiet; they are also totally chill companions whose ideal days include napping under furniture, hopping around their favorite people’s feet, gnawing on a variety of textured items (i.e. cardboard and wood), tasting whatever their people are eating, and getting some pets. Some rabbits are friendlier than others, and more inclined toward lap-sitting and snuggling; others are shyer and prefer to make a blanket-nest next to you while you’re sitting on the floor watching TV.

It’s difficult to make the cognitive leap from “I love my dog” to “I can’t eat cow.” Not too many people have ever had a beloved pet cow. Bunnies are people’s pets, though, lots of people’s pets; can you really look a rabbit in the eyes and eat pâté made of his relations? The disconnect between the inherent violence of eating animals and the natural affection for tiny, big-eyed creatures is remarkable. Could you pet this bunny and eat another?

Rabbits raised for people to eat don’t live in homes with cardboard boxes to chew on and little trucks to throw around. They don’t even get the courtesy of a “quick and painless” death. When treated as livestock, the cutest animals live the worst lives, and are subject to the most painful deaths. Tell your friends who patronize Mission Street Food; see if it makes a difference. A happy house bunny smells of hay, and sometimes when you get up close to him to get a good sniff of fur, he’ll lick your face; like many, many other animals, rabbits show affection through grooming, licking and smoothing each other with their little pink tongues and little furry paws. Are you comfortable eating animals who share the affection for people that we feel for them?

I don’t love all animals, but I believe that they have as much right to live as I do. I’m happy to support MSF when they support vegan and vegetarian causes. After three months of living with an actual bunny, though, the idea of eating a rabbit isn’t as abstractly wrong as the idea of eating a pig—it’s vivid and frightening.

Omnivorous friends, please don’t eat rabbits. When you see dishes made of rabbit on menus, please don’t order them. Think of this photo of Nibbler instead; think of eating this little bun, who follows people into the kitchen in hopes of catching fallen crumbs, and who licks his delicate chops after taking a bite of strawberry to get all the juice off his face. No one who’s spent quality time with a rabbit could eat another. They should never, ever be someone’s meal, nor should anyone with a speck of compassion eat an animal—especially one whose “quick and painless” death is not demanded by law.

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