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Whole Foods Sale of Rabbit Meat Sparks Protests Planned for This Weekend

Animal advocacy groups are planning to protest this weekend at Whole Foods Markets nationwide to oppose the retail sale of rabbit meat and to “politely” remind customers via handouts that rabbits are friendly animals often kept as pets.

“Rabbits are the 3rd most popular furry companion in the US and have unique personalities, just like dogs and cats,” a leaflet from House Rabbit Society states. “They enjoy running, jumping, snuggling with other rabbits, and form deep bonds with their humans.”

The advocacy groups will be asking customers to fill out comment cards opposing the sale of rabbit meat at Whole Foods and to let store managers know how they feel about the issue. In addition, a Change.org petition is posted claiming more than 10,000 signatures of people who are against the company’s retail sale of rabbit meat.

A Whole Foods spokesman said the company recently began a pilot program of selling rabbit meat at certain stores in northern California, the mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, the Northeast, the South and the Pacific Northwest because of ongoing customer demand.

Stressing what it calls “a resurgence” of including rabbit meat in the American diet, Whole Foods notes that it’s a more sustainable and leaner protein option since six pounds of rabbit meat can be produced using the same amount of food and water it would take to produce one pound of beef.

The company has also made efforts to ensure that its suppliers provide improved conditions for rabbits raised for meat destined for retail sale in its stores.

“To meet our customers’ requests for rabbit, we needed our own set of animal welfare standards. These animal welfare standards are a direct result of a rigorous four-year process to address the welfare issues in rabbit production,” Mike Silverman told Huffington Post.

Concerns about how rabbits are raised for food led to a company statement released in May setting out how newly devised animal-welfare standards were being met, noting that the company’s supplier had “set up several innovative family farms that are meeting those standards” and adding that the program was being tested in a limited number of stores in northern California and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“It was important to us to provide rabbits that were raised in better conditions than what the industry offered,” the statement reads, calling most current rabbit production conditions “grim.”

Whole Foods Market’s stated animal-welfare standards for rabbits are designed to:

  • Take into account the fact that rabbits socialize in groups. While most rabbits raised for meat are kept in cages, we require group pens on solid floors with plenty of dry bedding, additional places to hide and climb, and room to forage, groom, hop, socialize and play.
  • Require that our rabbits have continuous access to drinking water, feed, roughage, gnawing blocks, tunnels and places for seclusion.
  • Ensure injured animals are treated.
  • Allow the mother rabbit time to nurse and recover before being re-bred, as rabbits are famous for their prolific breeding.

Whole Foods Market is reportedly under investor pressure to step up its game in the increasingly crowded organic food sector. The company has reduced its revenue forecast four times in the past nine months and now faces competition from retail giants Walmart and Kroger, which have recently launched into organics and offer cheaper prices and many more outlets than Whole Foods.

© Food Safety News
  • Ben

    I hope these communists are starving soon. Every creature is now suddently a pet. 10,000 people out of a population of over 340 million citizens are dictating what we can eat or not. I hope companies like Whole Foods don’t cave in. Where are these protesters and the leftwing press out on the Pacific, where billions of sea creatures already have been killed off completely from Fukushima radiation? No EPA, no Greenpeace, no Peta and all the others haven’t done anything. Wonder why???? Don’t eat chicken as I love eggs!

    • yogachick

      Some of us are opposed to senseless, unnecessary violence against innocent, defenseless animals. I do agree with you about the Fukushima disaster though, and I’m glad I eat no sea animals as the oceans are too contaminated.

      • Matt PDX

        Where were you when the protests for the defenseless cute lamb happened? Or the protests for the wonderful pet chickens being butchered and sold at Whole Foods? How about the cattle? What about the baby cattle? I have an aquarium behind me right now, why isn’t anyone defending my pet fish’s rights? Either protest all the meat sold or none of it. Who are you that your decision of how cute an animal is can be the only measurement of value its life has. I’m a meat eater, former chef and butcher and this behavior is ridiculous. The meat isn’t being treated any more cruelly than all the other meat sold at Whole Foods, it is just a personal taboo. Get over it, and don’t buy it. Let those who want to purchase it, do so for themselves. They’re not going to force it down your throat. it’s Whole Foods meat, its very expensive. They will save it for people they know and love. Why is Whole Foods carrying rabbit? It might have to do with the minimum weekly requests I got for rabbit as a butcher with this company, and the large number of complaints I received because we didn’t carry it in our store.

  • JTAK Food Safety

    Please return to food safety news.

  • John Smith


  • Carlo Silvestr

    This is ridiculous! Rabbit is a good meat. No one is forcing anyone to buy or eat rabbit meat. Rabbits are extremely viable and would probably be a good source of protein. I wouldn’t want my pet rabbit slaughtered but no one’s going to ask me to sacrifice my rabbit but I personally would have no problem eating rabbit, no more than I have a problem eating pork, chicken or turkey.

    • yogachick

      Then you have what psychologists call “moral schizophrenia” and “selective compassion”

  • yogachick

    Agree! Go vegan! Eat a plant-based diet.

    • Ines

      Stop eating plants. They provide the earth with oxygen. Why are we eating at all right? The amazing yet sad fact we struggle to accept as humans is that there is. Chain that needs to be preserve for life on earth to subside.
      Yes I eat both plants and animal. Am I proud of that? No but do I have another choice? Well… Magic beans may be? But wait! That is a bean which by definition could come from a tree.
      ugh…. It s so hard.
      Science people, use your brains. These are the only ways to survive.

  • flameforjustice

    When you eat animals for food you should not protest about when other animal flesh eaters choose to eat an animal you think shouldn’t be eaten. As long as that animal isn’t another human being.

  • flameforjustice

    I’m a vegetarian sometimes vegan and I don’t tell anyone not to eat animals for food. So neither should other people who eat animals for food.

    • Carole Davis

      No one is a sometimes vegan unless they are an all-the-time hypocrite.

      • Amber

        Carole, as a vegan myself, even I find your comments obnoxious at best. Of course you are within your right to speak your mind but be aware that this kind of self-righteous rant is what gives vegans a bad name.

        • Chris B

          How is it obnoxious to point out that people who eat meat three times a day can’t call themselves “sometimes vegan” because sometimes they eat fruits and vegetables too? She’s not proselytizing, but simply making an obvious semantic point of error.

          • Acacia

            The original commentator was a vegetarian. Also, who knows? Maybe flameforjustice goes vegan for several months or weeks at a time.

        • Chris B

          How is it obnoxious to point out that people who eat meat three times a day can’t call themselves “sometimes vegan” because sometimes they eat fruits and vegetables too? She’s not proselytizing, but simply making an obvious semantic point of error.

    • Lamont Cranston

      Wow you’re embarrassment. Do us all a favor and don’t tell people that. You completely missed the point of being a vegetarian.

  • flameforjustice

    All animals are fair game unless prohibited by law, on the endangered list, belong to someone else etc.

    • Chris B

      Animals belong to themselves.

  • MaryFinelli

    Meat – and animal products in general- are harmful for other animals, hazardous to humans, and devastating to the environment. Whole Foods, which touts itself as being progressive, should be phasing them out, not promoting the needless exploitation of yet another species.

    • oliver

      Hahahahahaha…tell a lion that the zebra he is about to eat isn’t in his best interest

      • MaryFinelli

        Lions are carnivores, humans are not. Unlike them we can thrive on a diet that excludes animals/animal products (i.e., a vegan diet). Needlessly harming animals, whether for food or any other reason, is animal abuse.

  • Michael Lawrence

    Someone should remind the animal activists that rabbits taste good and that rabbits are farm raised for their meat. It’s no different than farm raising cows for meat. They need to get over it. Whole Foods seems to have a program in place for humane conditions of the rabbits. I have no problem with this and if there was a Whole Foods near me, I’d be walking right passed the protestors to buy some rabbit meat.

  • Sam Spade

    Here’s your truth in food and safety when it comes to commercialized rabbit farming and slaughter.
    Thank you Whole Foods for wanting to perpetuate this sort of thing…you sick _____’s!

    • True Omnivore

      If you took 5 minutes to understand WFM – then you would understand that video is NOT what WF perpetuates. Read the standards & details on their OWN website – not in cages… these animals are being raised in large fenced yards/ barns. They are given bushes to chew on and burrows to climb in.

      Bottom line is WFM has been. is changing the way we raise and grow food… and it benefits vegans and omnivores alike. You really think Kroger will give a s__t about that?

      • Carole Davis

        Right. Slaughtering animals benefits vegans. How? Ridiculous statement.

  • Carrie

    Get over it! We eat cows, pigs, chicken, pheasant, duck, goose, lamb & RABBIT!

    • Carole Davis

      And you have a very unhealthy, cruel diet! You are also responsible for global warming! Go vegan, save animals, your health and the planet! The facts about meat consumption are in. Read up.

      • Acacia

        Humans are omnivores, while we currently eat too much meat eating meat is in itself part of a healthy diet. Also going vegan won’t stop global warming.

  • Barry Levenson

    Cultural norms, including what animals people choose to slaughter for food, vary all over the world. Food purveyors must step lightly when deciding which meats to offer their customers. When activists on either side persuade legislatures to either ban (e.g. horse meat) or promote (e.g. the beef cattle industry) a particular animal protein, we then stretch the limits of what the law should do. If Whole Foods shoppers want to buy rabbit, let them do so. Whole Foods can then decide if the profits from the sale of rabbit is worth the negative side of the bad press and ill will it may suffer from its decision. Better that the market decides than a fickle legislature (remember the Chicago foie gras debacle?).

  • July-Suzi Michaels-nee Johnson

    Ridiculous. Do these protesters have any idea how detrimental their housing requirements are to the health of the rabbits? Group homes encourage the spread of disease faster that individual housing. Solid floors are cost and time prohibited in keeping absolute cleanliness, which is imperative to preventing White Spot Liver disease, etc., therefore rendering the carcass inedible) Does their group home include intact bucks? How is that limiting breeding exposure? Or fights, or inappropriate breeding of juvenile does? What about the stress buck aggression causes does? Breeders that are raising rabbits acceptable to the buyers, and making a success at it, already must practice good husbandry or their business won’t last.

  • Carole Davis

    Rabbits are friends, not food. I’m a vegan and think the idea of selling any dead animal is wrong but selling butchered companion animals is just crazy. What next? Dog meat? Disgusting. I will be boycotting Whole Foods as all my friends are.

  • Carole Davis

    Lots of horrid, mean things have been done for hundreds of years. it doesn’t make it right. Go vegan, save the planet and your health.

    • disqus_BNbEfrPmXP

      Nope, never going vegan in fact in if I didn’t live in apartment I would considering raising my own rabbits for meat along with Chickens for both there meat and eggs.

    • MissDiane47

      If I choose to eat beef, pork, chicken or rabbit, who are you to tell me “Thou shalt not!?”

      You do understand that Orthodox Jewish people eat nothing but Kosher foods. Shall we tell them to stop eating Kosher just because you or I are not Jewish?

      It is one thing to promote more plant-based foods in the diet for humans. However, you personally have a choice to be vegan if you wish. But if the majority decide to be omnivores, that is also their choice. Just keep in mind that there are enzymes that come from animal protein that humans have to have in order for the body to heal itself properly.

      I learned that many years ago from a Holistic physician who also said that soy protein alone is not good for women. He knew then that there would be higher incidents of ovarian & breast cancer in women who utilize only plant-based proteins alone. All this can be found in medical journals. Not only that, more than 80% of the soybeans grown in the US is GMO.

      One question for you to think about: If/when we all die off, who would be left to “save the planet?”

      • Lamont Cranston

        Who are you to needlessly take the life of a defenseless animal?

        • JohnnyComeLately

          Humans are animals. Animals need to eat. Many animals are omnivores. This is who she is and who you are as well. What other people eat is none of your concern.

        • Ryan

          Bigger than them.

        • Jojo

          A human. Apex predator. Plus they’re delicious.

      • Chris B

        “But if the majority decide to be omnivores, that is also their choice.”

        You are not taking into account the animals’ interests in not being eaten. By what principle do we have a right to choose to inflict horrible violence on a sentient being simply because she tastes good?

        • Acacia

          By what principle do lions have the right to eat zebra and antelope? While humans are not wholly dependent upon meat and dairy they are an important part of our diet as omnivores.

        • laura

          Define sentient and explain how a rabbit qualifies. Also, we too are animals with physiology that makes us omnivorous. You may have a problem with nature and that suffering can never be eliminated without eliminating life itself, but that is above my cosmic paygrade. Don’t take more than you need and do it as humanely and sustainably as possible.
          BTW, I don’t believe veganism is a healthy lifestyle (compared to eating a clean omnivorous diet – “Mediterranean diet” for instance).
          In conclusion, I will be buying rabbit from whole foods or any other vendor should they produce it in a manner I deem humane and sustainable.

      • Chris B

        “But if the majority decide to be omnivores, that is also their choice.”

        You are not taking into account the animals’ interests in not being eaten. By what principle do we have a right to choose to inflict horrible violence on a sentient being simply because she tastes good?

  • Carole Davis

    Come protest for ALL species being tortured and slaughtered for meat. I am vegan and am going.

  • Tina m

    I am Asian and I don’t eat dogs. House rabbits are the number 3 pets in the USA fast becoming number 3 in other countries too. For Psychology magazine to also criticize this move by Whole Foods is sobering. I have a therapy pet and both therapy cat and doggie teams and different animal advocacy groups and associations oppose this. why? house rabbits can be littertrained and rabbit meat isn’t a complete protein.Rabbits are not rodents but lagomorphs and not poultry. there is much ignorance and they are exotic pets not to be the first pets. I am not a vegetarian but I draw the line here…WF is doing this because it is losing money, I have shopped there. this store is mainly for people who can afford a bit more expensive fruits, vegetables, butters, pastries, goods, etc. But I will go to Trader Joe’s now. another customer lost among so many


  • Tina m
  • Justine Capraro

    This is just stupid… As long as the animals are raised humanely I think people should back off. Rabbit is a much more economical choice for people based on space and consumption to produce. Its also a much healthier option to eat… should we stop eating chickens pigs goats and cows because they can also be used as pets? My husband and I are considering raising our own rabbits for meat this is a good choice for people who cant do that. People have the right to choose what they eat this is a free country if you don’t like eating rabbit then don’t buy it but let others have the choice. When did our free country become not so free? Just because one person chooses to be a vegan doesnt mean its the right choice for others I mean seriously even vegans have to kill something to eat right… Anyone who thinks they arent killing something by being a vegan should look into how many eco-systems are disrupted by the tilling of soil… how many baby rabbits are killed when people till the land?

    • MarkDonners

      You should back off.

  • Cherry Biggins

    By the comments I see thus far, none of you have had a problem getting access to rabbit for consumption. No one is telling you what you can or can not eat, why is that always the first comment? Whole Foods not selling rabbit is not going to keep anyone that really wants it to obtain it. There just doesn’t NEED to be another animal added the torturous commercial food chain. Especially one that more than 2.5 million keep as HOUSE pets. And for those that keep saying ‘meat is meat’ wait till they do start offering up dogs and cats. The fact is that it is NOT illegal to kill and use for human consumption dogs and cats in more than 40 states here in the US. No…Whole Foods is NOT selling ‘Wild’ rabbit as they would like the public to believe.

  • Monica Levin

    I am not PETA, I am not an activist but I guess now I am because I just found out about Whole Foods and selling rabbits, the kind of domestic rabbit I have at home as a PET, I am furious and will NOT shop there anymore plus is cheaper going somewhere else. How could you Whole Foods!!!

  • Marie Feder

    Doesn’t Whole Foods know families have pet rabbits? BAD move

  • Craig Johnson

    Couldn’t sleep and browsed this. I was not going to post but my wife has a pet rabbit is part of our family. Sometimes we go to Whole Foods on Sundays. Guess not anymore,

  • SueJamison

    am not a communist, am a conservative lady but had to say something, please my grandkids have a bunny and I draw the line HERE> ENOUGH NONSENSE! for a 79 yr old lady.

  • MarkDonners

    The marketing and PR spin of “humane standards” for rabbit slaughter by “Whole
    Foods” is unabashed green-washing. In reality, Whole Foods is attempting to
    jack up demand for a new meat source. Adding rabbit meat dramatically
    increases the number of animals bred and slaughtered specifically for
    consumption. A new source of animal torture and slaughter is NOT
    “sustainable”). Whole Foods will also be directly responsible for the deaths
    of hundreds of thousands of companion breed animals and the “leader” in
    growing this cruel trend.

    When I asked about the disappearing ocean species they were stocking,
    swordfish and orange roughy, which not even WalMart would stock, whole food
    managers essentially just said “it’s all sustainable” and practically flipped
    me off. Whole Foods management are very vicious and unethical when it comes to
    profits. You will lie and greenwash and insult your customers. Watch out Whole
    Foods, that kind of attitude will boomerang on you in a bad way. I want you to
    go bankrupt now.

    • Kyle H

      And put thousands out of work… I can see you want to make the world a better place

  • I also love animals

    Without downplaying the need to respect any living organism, If the same argument were made for cattle, pigs and chicken…it would be true (live in groups, are friendly and can be domesticated)….would this mean…that we could not eat any of them? … I guess that many people would go hungry….they also live in groups, are friendly, etc. NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CAN HAVE THE LUXURY of CHOOSING WHAT TO EAT or have the knowledge to survive only on organic PRODUCE. A very little “elite” in the world is loosing touch with reality and live within the virtual reality of comfortable cities … more than 6 Billion people in the world don’t have that luxury.

  • Bonita Weldon

    chickens are also pets but everyday people eat more chicken than they do beef so for people that buy rabbit meat what’s the difference

  • olivia
  • Dawn D Gower-Godfrey

    Rabbit meat is cheap, healthy, and VERY DELICIOUS! My grandmother raised rabbits for show, meat, and furs. Rabbits have a ridiculous breeding rate, used to be classified in the rodent family, have no problem killing their own young or each other, and if left to their own devices, can absolutely destroy surrounding vegetation. Rabbits are found all over the world, and I’ve never come across a meat eating species that would turn up it’s respective nose to ‘rabbit’. I’m actually on this page looking for information on buying rabbit meat for my cats, because it is a much better food source than the dried crud from the pet store (no matter which brand I try, the unnatural feed keeps making my cats vomit – but they don’t vomit when I feed them meat scraps as treats – time to go full meat).

    Not to mention, the first time Thumper turns around and lays into a kid with those huge teeth or rolls over and shreds daddy with those back talons, Thumper always seems to end up with an apple in his mouth being braised in a pot.

    for more info about rabbits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit

    “I’m also a member of PETA…. ‘People for eating tasty animals!'” – Did You Hear About the Morgans

  • MarkDonners


  • MarkDonners

    Who is we? The overpopulated mutated monkey species that behaves far worse than a virus on life? Even a half alive virus contributes to the biosphere, something that unethical psychotic and degraded humanity can’t ever claim. Stop babbling how you have a right to practice immorality, and the monstrous mass murder of animals, One thing you should never forget, animals and plants that have more rights to this planet than humans . Animals and plants have built a biosphere and its oxygen after working for more than two billion years to do so. The mutated alien monkey species is tearing that apart and it the earth is dying.