Can eating rabbit reduce world hunger and offer environmental benefits? Yes, according to a report at Time. First, rabbit has virtually no cultural taboos:
It is a fact universally acknowledged that rabbits reproduce at a rapid rate. But did you know that rabbit meat is kosher, halal and acceptable for Hindus who decline beef for religious reasons?
Rabbit is also an easy to acquire protein in poor countries, as demonstrated in Haiti:
But perhaps the most important element in popularizing rabbit production is that the animals can be raised on a grain-free diet. In a world of rising prices and increasing demand for grain, the ability to raise a good protein on garden forage is a plus in poor countries….
…Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, many Haitians moved out of their devastated capital and back into the countryside, relying on small holdings to grow vegetables. Using a local crossbreed rabbit suited to the Haitian climate, the project has helped increase cuniculture. “Ten females and one male can produce around 200 offspring per year,” Lukefahr says. “That’s enough to provide high protein meat for the family and have some left over to sell at the local market.”
Over 1,700 Haitian rabbit producers now maintain some 1,250 rabbit facilities, Lukefahr says, which are home to 32,650 breeding rabbits. The program has grown by 142% in the last two years and has helped increase family income by an average of $19.95 a month per family with some producers seeing as much as $200 a month in income from meat sales, a significant boost in a country where the average annual family income is $1,700.
In America, where rabbit meat isn’t exactly a mainstay, some have embraced the idea for urban farming.
In Oregon, Camas Davis, a food writer and founder of the Portland Meat Collective is seeing that trend unfold. The collective offers classes in rabbit slaughter and butchering techniques, focusing on utilizing the whole animal. About half the participants come in for economic reasons or because they want a sustainable protein — rabbits feed on grass, their manure is a great addition to the vegetable garden and their meat is a healthy protein. Plus, as Davis points out, unlike chickens, ducks or goats, they have escaped the bureaucracy. In Portland, backyard farmers are limited to two chickens and/or one goat, while rabbits “have slipped through the cracks.” The same goes for federal regulation, Lukefahr notes, and the Department of Agriculture does not list rabbits as livestock — hence the lack of firm numbers on rabbit production in the U.S. and the lack of red tape governing production, a status favored by some rabbit farmers.
I personally find rabbit to be wonderful. I order it anytime I find it on a Denver restaurant’s menu. I hope to see Americans eating more rabbit and less pork, chicken, and beef. If the killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in Monty Python and the Holy Grail taught us anything, its that we must get them before they get us.