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Here’s What’s Wrong With Whole Foods’ Plan to Sell “Humane” Rabbit Meat

Here’s What’s Wrong With Whole Foods’ Plan to Sell “Humane” Rabbit Meat

Earlier this summer Whole Foods decided to launch a pilot program that put rabbit meat on its store shelves at select locations across the country, but the move isn’t sitting well with animal lovers. Over the weekend, animal advocates and dozens of rabbit rescues took part in a nationwide day of action in an effort to get customers to ask the store to stop.

In a statement, Whole Foods claimed the move was in response to customer demand for rabbit meat:

For many years, lots of customers have requested that we carry rabbit. But first we needed to ensure the rabbit we sold would be consistent with WFM’s high animal welfare standards. As most rabbit production is grim, we set out to develop our own set of animal welfare standards, which began a rigorous four-year process to address the welfare issues in rabbit production. As we have done in the past, our hopeis that our standards will be a model for industry change.

Unfortunately for Whole Foods, animal advocates can see through it’s thinly veiled attempt to humane-wash rabbit meat, which has led to calls to stop by individuals and dozens of organizations, which have signed on to a letter to asking the store to reconsider.

It’s not that bunnies are worth saving from dinner plates and soup bowls because they’re super cute, even though they obviously are, or that they’re more important than the billions of other animals we raise and ruthlessly slaughter for their flesh every year. There are many other problems with the move to raise and kill a breed of rabbit we keep as pets that have both animal lovers and rabbit advocates reeling.

Sure, you can already get rabbit meat, but compared to other types of meat available it’s relatively rare. One of the biggest problems with Whole Foods’ program is that it’s setting a dangerous precedent by making this the first time a major grocery store chain in the U.S. has put an animal that most of us consider a pet on its shelves in an attempt to popularize it and make a profit, which animal advocates believe will help start a cruel trend by creating a demand for another animal product that most people really had no interest in.

It’s kind of an odd move, considering the store banned the sale of live lobsters in 2006 because, well, the experience is not very nice for lobsters. It took a task force to figure out that lobsters aren’t inanimate objects and that no matter how many changes they made to the supply chain to improve welfare, or their quality of life, they couldn’t make it something they could live with calling humane.

Oddly enough, the store now wants people to believe that it can make mass rabbit meat production humane. The company spent an entire four years agonizing over how to make it nicer to keep and kill a smart, sensitive, social and loving species, after all. However, the House Rabbit Society breaks it down to show there’s not really much difference in the store’s new standards and how meat rabbits are typically raised anyway.

Both males and females can still be isolated if necessary, females can still be bred every 30 days, rabbits will still be torn from their social groups and babies (fryers) will still be killed when they’re 10-12 weeks old.

Aside from trying to make “new” standards for care, there’s not much Whole Foods can do to ensure the humane treatment it’s promoting either. According to the House Rabbit Society, two of its current suppliers are located in Missouri and Iowa both of which have ag gag laws who source their rabbits randomly so there’s no way to vouch for where they came from in the end.

Meat rabbits are also classified as poultry and are excluded from the basic protection other livestock animals are afforded under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which means they get no federal protection from abuse and are subject to any state laws that may or may not exist to protect them from inhumane slaughter practices, which are left out of the store’s humane guidelines.

Even though Whole Foods says it will have a USDA inspector (which isn’t required for rabbit meat), they won’t be there to ensure rabbits don’t suffer when they’re being killed, only that the meat is safe.

It’s beyond disappointing to see a vegan/vegetarian friendly retailer that offers an array of cruelty-free products for caring consumers cave to the alleged demands of a few who want to see even more animals raised and killed every year for a product we don’t need. Hopefully more customers will express their disappointment, than the “lots” of customers who supposedly asked it to start selling rabbit meat.


Please sign and share the petition asking Whole Foods to abandon this pilot program and commit to protecting rabbits by keeping them out of its stores.

For more information on how to help, visit the House Rabbit Society and SaveABunny.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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8:20AM PST on Jan 25, 2015

I missed Dale O. There is a lot of pretense there of helping the environment. But any solution to stop destruction of the environment is instantly met with "you're misanthropic" The stupidest excuse to do nothing about it I've ever heard. But that is more the norm of human behavior than common sense, logic or compassion.. which proves my point exactly

8:14AM PST on Jan 25, 2015

The Glennis, Gerald and Mary examples of hairless apes are the real menace to this world. They appear to be not only promoting the destruction of the earth for greed but also promoting vicious sadism on rabbits as well. Why? Is that part of your sorry hypocritical human lives? And your question of endangered species, does Whole Foods sell them as sustainable? Yes they do. Try and ask those sorry con artists about their swordfish and orange roughy that they sell? They will try to ignore you and literally snap at you. Because Whole Foods like the other criminal corporate mafia of America and the huge part of the population of overpopulated humans (some represented on this comment board) who are depraved beyond belief, care nothing about either the future of the earth or even of their children. They care only about their own selfish personal greed.

7:49PM PST on Jan 19, 2015

Thank you for sharing, ordinary rabbits are a menace, have done alot of damage to farms and parklands, look at the damage the done on MacQuarie Island [just google it], we used to trap them and eat them when we were kids, the ones they sell at the markets and stores are specially breed for human consumpton, wouldn't eat the ordinary rabbit now as you don't know what disease they have after using all the poison to get rid of them.

6:03AM PST on Jan 18, 2015

Hopefully Whole Foods will listen! Please visit:

6:53AM PST on Jan 14, 2015

Drop rabbit, eat ants! :-)

12:04PM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

@ Mark Downer; quotes: Whole Foods managers have turned to any con to make profits, selling endangered species as "sustainable", supporting vicious cruelty like this pet rabbit con, lying and representing themselves as pro environment.

Mark, are rabbits on the Endangered Species List? From your rhetoric and decrees, Omnivores are on your endangered Species List, the vile meat eating villians. Mark have you ever heard the phrase, propagate like a mink? It's also spoken as propagate like a rabbit!

Mark the aboriginals in my locale were able to trade cooking pots made from native copper. I am sure they were not trading for a winters supply of maize for your false perception that they were vegans. Damn, they were profiting as they bartered goods, what a curse on humanity!

4:36AM PDT on Sep 8, 2014

ok, let's try this once more, bots and girls..... you think this conversation is just beginning??? or is alive and well??? sorry to dissolusion you, but it started with about 30 plus people commenting per day. THREE WEEKS later, there seem to be only 3. maybe 4. yes, no doubt you are steadfast in your beliefs, and will continue to comment and prosletize until hell freezes over. everyone else has passed along. it wasn't that interesting a topic, and it has not attracted very many commentators. three weeks is a long time, and no matter how you rephrase yourselves, you are only preaching to each other, not agreeing on anything, further entrenching your stated beliefs. No-ONE is reading this blog/whatever. If you have philosophical, whatever, rablings that are important to you....find another site. sure, there might be another with over 6,ooo comments/whatever... it's not thi one on care2.

Kayla, you probably started the petition and are monitoring the comments. I will repeat, THE BUNNIES HAVE LEFT THE BUILDING. no new people will pick up and react to anyone's postings. find a new petition. you all seem to have heartfelt and (questionary) opinions you want to share. why limit yourselves to an audience of 3 or 4?? Move along, little doggies. the world awaits. there are no more green stars and a slavvering audience. the internet world and internet hot topics move way faster than this. you are boring. why not try to reach a new

3:22AM PDT on Sep 8, 2014

Dale o people want an unlimited supply of meat and dairy, people want to be able to go to the local supermarket and have a variety of chooses. They also want to go to the many restuarants at any given time and get their meat and dairy. If humans want to eat meat it will always be factory farmed, they will never and I mean ever replace factory farms with small farms, it's about profit and also demand! Give me a break! Most people are eating much more meat than a deck of cards and they can because meat is so readily available.

2:03AM PDT on Sep 8, 2014

Greetings, Mary G. You said:

"Yes, the comments have been hilarious, but, hey... give it a break. The subject is dead. The bunnies have left the room. Time to move on to the next world-shattering problem."

Mary G, this thread is only (at this point) a mere 195 comments young. It has barely started. I am on another thread that is now over 7025 comments. Give it a break? What, you would have me miss out on Mark D's effervescent misanthropic view of humanity? That is really hard to give up! It really starts my day off to an overly optimistic start.

Kayla S, well, there are those who don't know basic nutrition 101 and simply eat far too much meat. The correct serving is the size of a deck of cards, not to mention one doesn't have to have meat three times per day. If people ate the correct amount of protein, there would be a more realistic amount of food produced and fewer factory farms. I won't get any meat from a factory farm, as I just don't want to help out Monsanto.

9:45PM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

hello again. just thought i'd pop in to see what the latest is on this topic. pretty well what i thought, more crap from very few individuals who are not going to agree on anything, or reach a compromise.... just entrench themselves further in to their own storylines. oregon trail, hmmm. elk and bison and scorched earth, hmmm.

guy...did you notice that the article and petition on "save the bunnies from Whole Foods" only got just over 3,000 signatures? do you realize that it means a few people have said what they wanted to say AND MOVED ON WITH THEIR LIVES!!?? If Whole Foods monitors this petition, and i'm sure their pr and marketing people have a bit of an interest which way the wind blows regarding the sale of rabbit meat (and any other new-to-the-market product that might be controversial).... well, in marketing terms, that few interested people from the entire care2 group?? it means, bring on the bunnies! only the crazies made a big fuss.

yes, the comments have been hilarious, but, hey... give it a break. the subject is dead. the bunnies have left the room. time to move on to he next world-shattering problem.

whales, anyone?

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