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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Down the rabbit hole

BunnyI've been playing with an idea in my head for a few months now and wanted to throw it out to the rest of the blogging universe to see what you thought.

With food costs on the rise and potential disruptions in our food supply due to increasing fuel costs, among other things, I know a lot of us have started gardening to supplement our dining needs with homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Add to that the fact that many of you raise chickens for eggs, some of you even go so far as for meat. This totally makes sense to me, even as a former vegan, although logistics of dispatching animals in the suburbs or even urban areas, makes it a little more difficult to do.

I spent a bit of time looking around online for an abattoir or some other processing place in the Seattle area. Not that I have anything to dispatch (save for the neighbor's Siamese cats who are turning my raised beds into cat boxes), but mostly to satisfy my curiosity. If I wanted to raise chickens, goats or other critters for meat, how could I go about getting them "dressed"?

Sure, you may argue that I don't want to get my hands dirty in the whole process, but where am I going to do it? On the front lawn? I think I could get over doing it myself, but what are the laws?

So, then my mind started to wander, which it does occassionally. Okay, all the time, but this time it wandered down the rabbit hole. No, really. Here's the deal. I like to meander around on the Seattle Animal Control website looking to see what's up for adoption. I scooted on over to the small and fuzzy section and noticed the large supply of rabbits available. Not Netherland Dwarfs, Lops or American Dutches. You know, the classic bunnies.

No, I'm talking tons of rabbits that oftentimes are grown for meat. Californians, New Zealand Whites... Big bunnies. Tasty bunnies. So, it got me thinking. What's to stop a person from "adopting" free meat?

What are the ethics of perpetrating oneself as a pet owner when, ultimately, your intentions are otherwise? If the food supply were in more dire straights, would that be acceptable? Why then and not now? What do you think?

97 comments:

Samantha said...

I think the idea is absolutely, positively despicable. It makes me so angry just to even entertain the idea. It's an outright lie to the agencies trying to find the animals loving homes, and it's just cruel on top of that.

It's ridiculous to sit around and complain about the cost of meat when you can STOP EATING IT. Meat is not necessary for survival, end of discussion. If you have a problem with the cost then don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

For dispatching contact a local meat butcher, they can give you all the info you seek since they are used to working with hunters. As for the bunnies...I'm sure the local adoption agency might catch on if you keep coming back each week and only adopting the meatest ones available. However you could adopt a male and a female bunny and let nature take its course...lol.

zfolwick said...

Googling "Butchers in Seattle" on their "maps" section gives this promising place: Kelso Kustom Meats

Or you can just do it yourself. Poultry isn't that difficult. If you can gut a fish you can take on a chicken.

@samantha:
I believe that American history began with a lot of eating of beans. . . That being said, I like buffalo meat but you simply can't beat a good grass-fed (and finished!), free-range beef. The subtle flavors are not only mouth-wateringly good, but you can actually feel a little bit closer to the animal you just ate.

Now see what you've done? I'm hungry and it's beyond midnight! argggh!!


I'm not against veganism, but I simply don't understand the view. I agree that eating meat *can* take a lot of resources, but there's still a lot of wasted space out there. Grass lawns could feed every spot of cattle and sheep out there, but aren't used. If it's the morality of eating an animal, I guess I could point to nature's examples of omnivores. Or I could just tell the truth and say that I don't care if I kill an animal as long as I'm not wasting it.

Veganism is just toooooooooooo difficult of a problem for me to comprehend.

Jacki said...

Ummm...YUCK. That is disgusting to think about. And besides, when you adopt an animal, no matter how big or small, they do check up on you for a time afterwards. At least the ones here do.

artbystrongheart said...

In my area there is a cost for adoptions - for the animal to be altered, etc. so that might be an issue.

I have to admit that I have, on more than one occasion, considered catching the many rabbits that run through my yard, and skinning, gutting, cooking and eating them. I know that most of my aunts and uncles ate rabbit meat growing up - in fact they raised them for that purpose.

shenandoah valley said...

just go hunt squirrels with a bb gun or a trap instead. not my cup a tea, but i know many a folk with their neck colored red (my brother sadly included) who eat squirrel stew when they don't have a good season for deer/venison.

amanda said...

wow...passionate responses. i think adopting for meat is a little shady...but animal husbandry is a dying part of what the urban homesteaders over at homegrown evolution call home economics. i think raising meat is a great idea if you have the desire...just try not to name them....

MamaBird said...

It doesn't seem shady to me. Well, maybe not upfront, but it's just crossing a cultural taboo. If they had little calves over there and someone was going for veal, would there be as much outrage? Great idea about finding a butcher -- sort of in the facing your food Pollan vein. I have a friend who won't get her meat from the farm we frequent because she can't get her head around the name Polyface! I think that's their point. And I can totally see the point to veganism, but if you *are* going to eat meat I don't see getting all worked up over fluffy bunnies instead of fluffy chicks or Wilbur the pig. ymmv

DC said...

You have to be careful around the bunnies, Crunchy -- they can be vicious ya know.

BerryBird said...

I think it would be perfectly acceptable to adopt a pair for breeding, like anonymous suggested. However, I do think it would be wrong to misrepresent yourself as wanting a pet if your intentions were to kill it immediately.

I wouldn't be opposed to talking honestly with the Animal Control though. Is it a no kill shelter? If not, they are likely euthanizing rabbits regularly with all that meat getting wasted. There may be certain arrangement that could be made.

hedgeshappenings said...

Perhaps adopting the breeding group would be a better solution. Adopt 3 does and a buck. Breed them and 5 weeks later you will have bunnies. 6 weeks after that you can take them to custom butcher shop or do it yourself.

With rabbits there is very little mess when butchering. The skin peels off like PJ's and the offal is small. You can bury it or burn it.

Kim H

hedgeshappenings said...

I forgot to add that you can feed the breeding group quite cheaply.

Grass clippings, root vegetables, and perhaps a little rabbit pellet feed while they are nursing.

To feed our little set of rabbit (5) costs about $50 a year plus a little time and effort.

Kim

Adrienne said...

Impractical for a lot of reasons. First, there is a cost for adoption. At my local shelter it's $15 for rabbits. Second, they have you sign something that in a nutshell says you will be a good pet owner and take responsible care and I'm guessing that means not *eating* your pet! Of course no one's going to come to your house and check, but some of us have a problem with signing an agreement you don't intend to honor. Third, you could do it once, but if you were trying to adopt a rabbit every week(?) they would quickly figure something was up. Also I bet some shelters have the bunnies "fixed" before adopting them out.
If you adopted a breeding pair, that would be a lot more practical for meat purposes.

Jen said...

Recently a group of friends had a discussion on the amount of meat wasted when animals are euthanized in shelters. The shelter near my house, for example, kills 90% of the animals it receives at intake. If people weren't opposed to eating what we consider pets, there would be more than enough meat to feed everyone in need of food. Most dogs are fed better than the ruminants and poultry used for meat!

And as my vegetarian daughter puts it, if you are going to eat one kind of meat, what is to stop you from eating any other kind? Meat is meat and each country has it's variety of what is and is not acceptable.

That said, I think most pet shelters would be opposed to adopting out animals meant as pets to someone who will eat the critters and because of shelter overpopulation, most are opposed to breeding the animals.

Personally, I'm opposed to pets themselves. I think it's cruel to keep animals in an unnatural environment that's generally much too small for the animal have a pleasant existence in. Then they're fed processed crap that's mostly non-food. Because of pets we have extreme domestic animal overpopulation that would have been controlled in a wild setting. Most of those animals end up breeding more unwanted critters, at the animal shelter where they are killed or sit for far too long or they roam the streets until they are dead from starvation, poison or a vehicle. We're not doing animals any justice by domesticating them.

@ Samantha,
Meat may not be necessary for survival anymore because we can ship vegetables and fruits from around the world all year long (which actually requires more energy resources than consuming meat). However, it is necessary for the better health of some individuals. It is also the natural history of human beings and if one is eating seasonally then omnivorous eating can indeed be seen as necessary.

maryann said...

I couldn't eat bunnies but I know a lot of Portuguese in the local area that raise them for food. However, I don't agree with adopting them from the pet shelter to kill to eat, somehow it just doesn't seem right. If you wanted to raise rabbits I think it would be in better judgement to find a source for the bunnies for that purpose, or as suggested get a male and female to make babies.

Mme. Meow said...

I think it's peculiar that we have this societal taboo about pets --in some ways treating them better than we do people, and more humanely.

If a whole bunch of bunnies are just going to be euthanized because they have not been adopted, is that preferable? I guess I mean, is it preferable to kill and waste than kill and use?

Having said that, I do think that there are laws in place in some states that protect newly-adopted animals from abuse.

Suzan said...

I find the adoption idea a little extreme. However during WWII the British were encouraged to raise rabbits for food. I am very squeamish about dispatching animals but can see if you want to eat meat this may be a logical option. So adopt a few for breeding as has been suggested.

In my case it is hypothetical as it is illegal to own rabbits in Queensland, Australia. In certain circumstances you may keep a neutered animal with a special permit.

Anonymous said...

As many have commented, the cost of adopting rabbits would probably out way the benefits in meat. I also want to point out, as a pet bunny owner, that breeding and meat rabbits get a different diet from house rabbits. Much higher in fats and such. There's not likely to be much meat on those cute little adoptable rabbits.

Paige said...

I would have a few concerns about what shots the critter has gotten while at the shelter. I know that the dogs here get a full set of shots even if the dog has tags and a microchip and the owners were located first. They also receive worming meds every day. I wish I was allowed to have chickens but even on my acre I am in city limits so its a no no.

AnnaMarie said...

Right now when food is available and relatively easy to acquire the idea has the commenters here debating semantics, ethics and viability of meat vs. the shelter kill and disposal.

A few years from now, when children are malnourished and hungry I think the responses will be very different.

Oh wait.... there were children in the Northeast this year malnourished and hungry due to high fuel oil/heating costs.

Crunchy, you have the right idea, carry on.

Wendy said...

I wouldn't adopt bunnies for meat from the animal shelter - at least not unless things were truly dire, and then, at risk of some very negative feedback, those cats in my garden wouldn't be safe, either ;).

First off, from what I understand, the Animal Shelters require an "adoption fee." For dogs and cats the fee is $100 or more where I live. I don't know what it is for small animals, but I bought two bunnies recently from the feed store for $12 each.

Which, I felt, was a better option, because secondly, the Animal Shelters require sterilization, and if your intention is to have them for meat, you'll probably want to start breeding them yourself. So, sterilized animals might not be the best option.

As for the ethics - some would argue (as one of your commenters did, already) that keeping an animal as a pet isn't all that ethical either. In fact, in their book The Good Life Scott and Helen Nearing say they don't have animals of any kind, because they felt that "enslaving" an animal, even a work animal, was wrong.

As for "harvesting" the little critters, we raised rabbits for many years and harvested them in our backyard. It's fenced, but not totally private. All of our neighbors knew we raised rabbits for meat.

If you wish to procure meat for your table, I would suggest, instead of the Animal Shelter, craigslist or your local "free" ads in the paper. People are trying to give away bunnies all of the time.

One more "for" keeping rabbits - even if they are just pets, their manure can't be beat for a fantastic garden!

jewishfarmer said...

You know, when people in Zimbabwe started starving to death, the US papers barely mentioned it. Starving people? Nah, big deal. When people in Zimbabwe started eating their pets, because both people and pets were starving, there was a huge outcry. I think we have a deeply f***ed up relationship to animals, personally. We value our pets over human beings in many cases, while we don't give a damn about destroying the habitat of wild creatures.

I think that in order to be ethical, you should, as others suggested, adopt a breeding group. You probably will have to do this discretely - the last thing shelters want is more bunnies in the world - maybe adopt from a couple of seperate shelters. Honestly, though, I think that it might be no more expensive to go and buy meat rabbits from a breeder, and you might get better lines. Still, if yours is a kill shelter, there is something to be said for rescuing animals that would otherwise be euthanized and burned - that is, have their lives thrown away pointlessly.

We don't eat rabbit, because we keep kosher, but we would if we had to. And one of the things I'm considering is the purchase of some meat rabbits (we already have angoras) that would allow us to give our neighbors and family basic "stock" for meat raising.

The truth is that it is easy to be principled when you've got all the food in the world, easy to get your vegan food from monocultured grain fields that support no wildlife (of course it doesn't die, it just magically goes away
:-P), won't support pollinating insects, eating tofu made from soybeans harvested with a combine and drenched in the blood of ground-nesting birds, rabbits, etc... that get ground up in the process.

There isn't any food without blood - at least Crunchy has the balls (ovaries? Tits?) to get serious about looking the blood in her diet in the face.

Sharon

rachel, pe said...

WTG, Crunch, I love it when you polarize people! Personally, I think as long as you're up front with the adoption facility and get bunnies to breed, that's fine. I would be concerned about the aforementioned shots, neutering, etc. I do have an ethical problem telling the adoption center that you're going to love, cherish and nurture your new pets when they will be in the frying pan that night. But then again, who am I to judge, the desperate times we're headed for will call for desperate measure.

BTW, I'm starting my Golden Showers challenge TODAY. It seems like such a good idea I can wait another few weeks.

Theresa said...

We do have an eff'd up relationship with animals. Humans have the capacity for evil where animals don't, so I really think we need to get over the idea that we're better than animals somehow, and that we can do whatever we want with/to them. They are sentient beings just like we are. I'm a vegetarian and have been for the past 2 1/2 years or so. I would eat animals again one day, if it becomes necessary and if I knew they'd been treated well and respected in during their life and in their death. I respect the plants I eat now and want to make sure they're grown and cared for well too, and appreciated for the nourishment they provide. Humans have to get over the idea that everything is out there purely for our exploitation and consumption. That's whats gotten us into this mess in the first place. We need to see ourselves as part of an interconnected cycle of all things, not as reigning supreme over a bunch of worthless underlings, be they plant, animal or mineral.

Jessica said...

My family used to raise bunnies to spin their fur into yarn. The yarn is the softest yarn to knit or sew with. It gets consuming to raise bunnies for awhile after feeding them and trying to keep their mating habits at bay. It's amazing how fast smaller livestock animals (including rabbits) can overpopulate an area. My other side of family raised sheep. It's a bit easier than raising cows or horses because there's not much weight to pull/push around.

Magpie said...

Reminds me of the scene in the Michael Moore movie about Detroit - where the woman is selling rabbits for "Pets or Meat".

My next door neighbor - in the suburbs - offed a wild bunny with a pellet gun. And ate it. I was impressed.

And the Joy of Cooking (older editions) tells you how to butcher squirrels and rabbits.

Robj98168 said...

I must agree with samantha. It is fraudulent to adopt an animal from an agency just for the purpose of eating it. And probably rather expensive also- if you consider agency fees for adoption. Now I ain't fooling myself here- I remember fondly the steak my Aunt gave me. It came froma bull they had. I hated that damn bull. It was an escape artist. One day my uncle shouted at me that the bull was on his way out the front door of the barn and to just stand there and wave my arms. Well next thing I know here comes this behemoth animal charging at me with horns. Wave my arms? Bullshit- I turned and got my fat little ass outta the way. My uncle yelled at me for not stopping the charging bull- I told him easy fopr you to say you were at the rear end of it. My aunt felt so bad about him yelling at me when they butchered that devil beast, she made sure I gotta big t-bone.
I would have trouble raising bunnies for meat-I use to have a pet bunny. But be that as it may I could probably do it. of course, though I am a meat eater, although I must say I eat a considerably smaller amount than I used to.

Anonymous said...

I recently went through a similar scrutiny when trying to adopt pet rats. (The rat community is highly divided at times by the people that love them and think no animal should ever be allowed to eat a rat and those that just want free rats for snake food.) People adopting out the animals try to ask a decent number of questions trying to get a feel for what you are really doing with them and they charge an adoption fee that is comparable or more than what it would cost to obtain a feeder rat to try to avoid the issue.

Howling Hill said...

I think it has to do with how honest you are with the agency. If you go in and promise a loving home where these animals will be cared for until they die of old age, then turn around and cull them for food it's unethical. But if you're upfront and honest right from the start then it isn't unethical so long as the agency agrees with your end result.

Great question, Crunchy!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Jen, you said-
"we can ship vegetables and fruits from around the world all year long (which actually requires more energy resources than consuming meat)."
I don't know where you got this from but it is not accurate.
"...although food travels on average over 1,000 miles from farm to plate, this transportation accounts for only 4% of the carbon impact of the average American meal."
"...shifting just one day per week of red meat consumption to chicken, fish, or eggs achieves a reduction equivalent to 760 miles of driving. Shifting one day of red meat per week to fruits and veggies is the equivalent of 1,160 miles of driving. Swapping red meat entirely for other meats reduces the equivalent of 5,340 miles of driving. And going fully vegetarian is practically like giving up a car: 8,100 miles of driving."
http://www.terrapass.com/blog/posts/cutting-the-carbon-from-your-diet
Furthermore,meat is not necessary for better health in a society where you can have as much protein as you want from many sources. It may be more convenient(if you don't butcher the beast on your own) or tastier, but never necessary.
Jewish Farmer makes some excellent points I had not considered previously. Thanks Sharon.

Janice in GA said...

I think you'd definitely have to check on your local regulations. It's possible you might get in trouble with animal control if you're raising "pets" for meat. (This comes from a vague memory of seeing something on Animal Cops.)

And meat per se may not be necessary for survival, but you better be sure to supplement for the lack of it. There's some evidence that strict vegans are showing up with rickets more often.
See the recent story of a 12 year old raised on a strict no meat/no dairy diet:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article4087977.ece

That said, I'd eat rabbit in a heartbeat. :) I'm a happy omnivore.

Janice in GA said...

Oops, url got truncated. Here's a TinyUrl version:
http://tinyurl.com/3wyrab

Article title:
"Vegan girl, 12, 'has spine of 80-year-old'
Degenerative bone condition thought to be a result of strict diet"

Nature Deva said...

I stopped eating meat and animal products altogether once again in January to try and heal a health issue (genetic) that only gets worse with age and went raw vegan for the first time (have been vegan and vegetarian for many years before as well as omnivore/locavore these past few years). I have never felt better in my life.

So, since being a locavore for the past few years, the sustainability of my new, healing diet has been bothering me so I've been researching it. The most nutrient dense food to eat is definitely not meat or dairy (which create a whole host of other problems inside the body over time), it's green plants and specifically sprouts and wheatgrass, things you can grow in your kitchen from seeds with a jar or tray with dirt and some water and sunlight. The longer I eat this way, the less I desire to eat much more than simple foods and I feel deeply nourished.

They say that an average woman (weight/height)needs aprox. 70 grams of cooked protein a day where if eating a raw vegan diet (veg/fruit/seeds/nuts/sprouts/sprouted grains all not heated above 118 deg. to keep enzymes intact), it's only 30 grams/day since the live enzymes are made of amino acids and your body stores those amino acids and uses them as it needs. This way of eating also keeps your body slightly more alkaline which keeps you healthier since viruses, bacteria, cancer,etc likes to live in a more acidic environment so you will be healthier with a stronger immune system and that would cut down on the cost of being sick which is expensive in America. It also helps your body detox faster from the toxic sludge that builds up inside of us.

I can go on and on because I've been researching the sustainability of this for myself because I feel so damn good I really don't want to have to go back to the omnivore way I was eating but I would eat meat if I was in dire survival mode with no resources because I live in a colder climate.

What we really need to be able to do in the U.S. is be allowed to grow hemp which is a phenomenal plant- hemp nut/seed is high in protein, has all 8 essential amino acids, high in essential fatty acids, grows fast so is automatically organic bec. it never needs pesticides (outgrows the weeds), makes strong fiber for fabric and is mold/moldew resistant, etc.

Chile said...

Adopting an animal, whether rabbit, cat, or dog, with the intent to eat that animal would be risky, especially if you intended the animal shelter to become your sole source of meat. However, breeding your own rabbits from ones that you adopted seems reasonable to me.

Don't forget there are cheaper ways to get your meat by eating your pesky rats and pigeons. (Yeah, I wrote about it...but I won't be a link whore and put it here.)

For the people that can't understand veganism, think outside the stereotype box. Not all folks who give up eating animals do so for ethical reasons, or even environmental reasons. Some of us do it for our health, based on what we have read that persuaded us that it was the right choice for us.

Molly said...

Dispatching chickens is pretty easy and doesn't take much room. You can do it in your garage, or the back yard. All you need is a table, a stock pot full of scalding water, and a shovel to bury the offal,because it will draw flies if you compost it, unless you are using the bokashi method. The custom meat cutter usually won't handle anything smaller than a deer. I'll invite you over next time I have some chickens to dispatch and teach the technique. :)
Adopting for meat: I've had people try to get me to take their unwanted chickens and I'm always very upfront about where those chickens will end up (in my soup pot)so the owners generally opt for something more [#sarcasm alert] humane, like turning them loose in the watershed to be eaten by coyotes. I wouldn't consider adopting a pet rabbit for food. You don't know what's in the commercial feed that the rabbit was raised on. On the other hand, adopting rabbits that you then breed to raise your own meat. . .

Maeve said...

If I died and was laying on the floor and my cat was hungry, she'd eat me. The natural world isn't cute and fluffy. I don't want to eat cat or dog, but I would if I was starving.

Most shelters spay and neuter the animals *before* they leave the shelter, so adopting bunnies for breeding purposes probably wouldn't work out too well for people. And with the cost to adopt being upwards of $30-50 or more, I don't think it would even be economical in terms of eating the animal itself.

If things get really bad, there won't be many animals in the shelters (if there are even still animal shelters) because people will be eating them instead of dumping them at the shelter.

I mostly ignore the preachy people. If they are fortunate, they won't ever be in a position where they'll have to "eat their words". Or their pets.

arduous said...

I have no problems with people eating rabbit, but I do have ethical issues with misrepresenting yourself to an adoption agency. If you were up front about it, and said, "hey, I'm adopting these to eat them," and they were fine with it great. If you adopted them and you told them, "hey I'm adopting these to breed more rabbit that I will eat," I'd be fine with that too. All in all, though, I think raising rabbits for food is perhaps not the best plan for a mom with two young kids...because while I don't have an issue with eating rabbit, would you be able to convince your kids that it's cool to kill and eat their cute little bunnies? At least chickens aren't QUITE as cute.

lae21 said...

I think that if you were going to do it, you need to be absolutely upfront about it with the shelter. If you are going to raise any animal for meat, you should be involved in the butchering process. If you can't do it yourself, you shouldn't make someone else do it for you (laws allowing). But I think the better option if you're worried about the cost of meat is to stop eating it or eat it only once or twice a week.
A vegan or vegetarian diet can be perfectly healthy if you eat a balanced, whole foods diet. Stories of children getting seriously sick because of vegan parents are not being fed a balanced diet. When pointing out the deaths that occur in the production of plant products, you need to consider that most vegans choose sustainable and organic produce when they can, and many try to eat seasonally and locally when possible. Being vegan (emphasis mine) "denotes a philosophy and way of living which
seeks to exclude — AS FAR AS IS POSSIBLE AND PRACTICAL — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose (http://www.vegansociety.com/html/downloads/ArticlesofAssociation.pdf).

Maggie said...

As Mark Bittman said recently, for some reason omnivores have been getting more and more defensive and aggressive of late, perhaps because their lifestyle seems threatened by the economy and some common sense. I know many readers here probably buy or raise meat as responsibly as possible, and I applaud that. However, these doomsday predictions of the day we will all have to eat our pets would be less of a threat if we all cut down on the consumption of animal products NOW. You can be as dismissive as you want of those of us who are in favor of vegetarianism/veganism, but many of us do it to help alleviate world hunger and our impact on the earth. So back off a bit, okay?

DC said...

BTW, Crunchy, thanks for the movie idea. I'm pitching it to Disney tomorrow.

Tameson O'Brien said...

When I adopted my geese from the NHSPCA they made me sign a contract stating they would not be eaten.

JAM said...

I think it would be very hard to raise bunnies for food with kids, as arduous said. We have chickens (for the eggs) and my older daughter no longer eats chicken because of them. I think she is leaning very closely towards vegetarianism because she sees that it's not such a big leap from chicken to cow or pig. That's ok with me since she eats lots of other healthy stuff and I'm leaning that way myself (more for environmental reasons) but I think it would be tough to eat animals that you played with, although I know it's possible.

Michelle said...

I love the idea of raising the rabbits for food. I personally couldn't eat rabbit if I wasn't starving, but I would if I had too. This is a great conversation between vegans and nonvegans. Me, I like my meats and veggies!

Greenpa said...

So, my ex-lawyer used to have a Hmong house-man, who he was also teaching English so he could pass his citizenship tests. The lawyer keeps an breeds English bulldogs; those squatty little blocks of muscle? The house man once a week or so would offer to "wok" the dogs.

The intended humor was understood all around.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I think several very good points were brought up. What if the animals were going to be euthanized anyway? The adoption fee for small and furry is low, but I'm sure there are plenty of free giveaways on Craigslist and other spots. Most of them have been fixed if they have gone through the "system", so getting them for breeding purposes wouldn't work.

There is also a major rabbit area by Greenlake (a Seattle city park) that gets overrun each year by pet bunnies that people have dropped off. They have to trap them and then, I'm not sure where they go, but they are relocated. Snapping up a few ones there might make for cheap and easy breeding. Or grilling. Free range hasenpfeffer?

As for the vegan/vegetarian argument, the amount of petrochemicals (as fertilizer, farm equipment) needed to feed everyone a vegetarian diet has to be huge since the majority of people don't eat all organic vegetation. If the costs of petroleum keeps rising, the costs of eating a vegetarian diet will also rise. Plus there is the shipping and distribution cost. Sharon also makes an excellent point on how "harmless" monocultured farming is.

Plus, I'm not talking cattle here, I'm talking backyard bunnies. I can't raise food year-round. Traditionally, people around these here parts (U.S.) relied on preserved meats, root vegetables and grains to survive the winter.

So, while you are totally correct in that meat is not necessary for survival now, who knows what the future holds?

Kim - "skin peels off like PJ's". Man, I just can't get that analogy out of my head!

Molly - next time you're dispatching your chickens, let me know! I'm all over that! If you don't mind a camera and a related blog post, of course :)

One last thing about raising kids and cute critters for meat - well, people have been doing it for an exceedingly long time. The idea is to teach the child that the animal is meant for meat.

You don't just decide one day to take Thumper out back to get some work done and present a stew for dinner. As are most things in life, it's all about managing expectations.

blondeoverboard said...

if you're going for bunnies, why not guinea pigs? they take up far less space, are easy to manage and one fits neatly in the fry pan. there are places in peru where they are kept in pens in the kitchen. now, since i'm squeemish and not likely to be caught butchering my own food this is not going to happen in my house but it just shows to go ya, meat is meat and we all hold a place on the food chain. as an aside, in my area you can't get rabbits from the shelters that are still capable of reproducing and the 75$ adoption fee is prohibitive by any stretch of the imagination. if you're looking to buy rabbits for breeding as pets, meat or efficient producers of lovely, inexpensive compost, why not buy one from your local 4H and support a kid in the process.

Melissa said...

Whether or not you eat meat, I think Sharon makes an excellent point - that we'd all do well to examine our relationship to animals as well as to other human beings.

Joe said...

Ummmm, rabbits have been food for centuries. If you've read the Tolkien trilogy, Sam was often hunting for a coney to feed Mr Frodo.

My own meat consumption has dropped to near nothing, but meat is meat.

cindy24 said...

So that is why they have the "will not eat box in the contract". I will start with I do not eat meat. That said, I realize most people do. I have fostered shelter animals for 15 years. The issue is that some volunteer may have spent weeks nuturing that bunny back to health in the hopes that he would find a lovely home. I think sending them out to be eaten would not go over well. Also, while some may have mastered the slaughtering of animals...to just let people go home and try it out would result in so much suffering. I have sick foster kittens right now. I can't imagine putting in all the effort/time/love with the subq fluids 2x daily to have them go to a shelter to possibly be eaten. You could probably get rabbits cheaper at a pet store. What is the point/benefit of the shelter route?

kitchenmage said...

I say go for the bunnies but get them elsewhere. There are cheap bunnies at the farm next to me in Olympia, there must be others. All those cute Easter presents are getting unruly about now.

"One last thing about raising kids and cute critters for meat..."

But I do draw the line at raising kids for meat. Really! snicker

DC said...

"You don't just decide one day to take Thumper out back to get some work done and present a stew for dinner."

That may not be what happens in real life, Crunchy, but that is what's going to happen in the screenplay I'm writing . . . sort of. You'll be out back gardening when you have a sudden craving for a rabbit and zucchini casserole. So you pull a nine out of your ankle holster, aim it at ol' Thump and say (in your best Elmer Fudd impersonation), "Say your prayers, Wabbit." Just then, the killer bunny from Monty Python bursts through your back fence and knocks you to the ground, disarming you. Thumper laughs a cruel laugh and says, "Now who's cookin', beeatch?" Just when it seems all is lost, Greenpa bursts through the other side of the fence (he didn't know there was already a big hole in it) in his new Croatian hip hop tractor and whacks both bunnies into Sharon's solar oven, where they slowly (very slowly -- it's a cloudy day) roast to death.

Whaddya think? Dr. Andrew Weil is gonna play Greenpa!

pnwmom said...

Great post Crunchy!
I am another reader that grew up raising chickens, rabbits, and pheasants for food. My parents always used the basement for processing. The oder involved with the birds was bad (scalding process) but the rabbits weren't a problem for me.
My husband won't eat rabbit, so it's a non-issue for us. However, it would be MUCH easier than raising chickens in the suburbs.
Another thought-- I took the kids to a trout pond in Woodinville for their first fishing experience. The trout ponds were much smaller than I thought they would be. My father said that the fish would gain a natural flavor in a very short time when moved to a lake or natural pond. But the trout pond fish weren't too bad!

Crunchy Chicken said...

DC - That ain't no ordinary rabbit. It's got a vicious streak a mile wide. It will be difficult to pop a cap in its ass.

And, by the way, I keep my 9mm in a thigh holster (just like Fake Plastique Fish). It's harder for the evil rabbits to grab and use against me than the ankle holster.

I'm glad that we've all moved into some strange, overcast communal compound. I do hope you have been studying David Lynch's works for this film. Although I do believe that the readers of this blog will be confused by the lesbian love scenes between Sharon and I à la Mulholland Drive.

Jess said...

If they haven't been spayed/neutered, it makes sense to me to go for it. You would breed the ones you buy, then use their babies for meat. Eventually you would have to replace the original ones, but you could just give them to someone else as pets (rather than eat them) if you wanted to be truly honest about it.

And if you still don't feel right about it, I'm sure their are folks in the area with rabbits to get you started.

Rabbits are in the world to reproduce and care for their young for a short time until the next litter. They are NOT meant to sit around in cages all day, NOT having babies, as pets. They are low on the food chain, so their purpose on the planet is to be food for predators, and to make babies that will be more food for predators. They aren't going to survive for long if we let them run free, so why not let them do what they are meant to do, and nourish ourselves in the process?

We actually just got rabbits for meat, and we'll do it all in our small suburban backyard. I've got pictures on my blog if you are interested.

kitchenmage said...

I forgot to say, careful with the names. My brother named a pair of pigs Ham and Bacon. Oddly they were the only animals who didn't come when called.

Lesbianism and dead bunnies? So who's Sharon Stone and who's Glenn Close?

margaret said...

I have some rabbits that are eating all my pepper plants. Could somebody please kill and eat them for me? Thanks.

Crunchy Chicken said...

kitchenmage: I think you mean these two.

Heather said...

This is an interesting discussion! Here's my two cents:

Crunchy is right. The idea is to label the animals as "meat" or "food" immediately, so people won't get attached. That will go a looong way in preventing the "you're eating my pet" syndrome.

Also, I have a pet dwarf bunny. When I moved for grad school a few years ago, she was the only pet I could afford. Phoebe is feisty and adorable, and I love her dearly. I can't fathom eating her. People constantly tease me with comments like,"Mmmm, rabbit stew!" which I don't find too funny.

I get that people eat rabbits. My dad did growing up. (He's one of the main proponents of the rabbit stew joke.) I get that, in theory, one man's pet is another man's meat. Here's my rule: don't eat any specific animal that is a pet to some particular person. That could mean not butchering your child's favorite calf, goat, or duck if you live on a farm. Or it could mean getting meat rabbits from a breeder instead of an animal shelter. Or raising chickens without names. I know people have convoluted feelings about pets, but if you or your spouse or your child feels sad about it, those feelings should be taken into consideration, even if they aren't pure, black-and-white logic. If that particular bunny or pig or whatever was/is someone's pet, don't eat it. Find another bunny/pig/whatever. Don't eat anything labeled "pet".

It's all about the label.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy, I think the raising and eating of rabbits is perfectly acceptable. I have old Italian and Portugese neighbors who have been doing it for years. I would draw the line, however, at misrepresenting yourself at the humane society, but that's me. If you can live with yourself and justify it, that's your business. In the future, if food was scarce, I would definitely consider raising rabbits for stew. They're actually quite delicious (once I got over the fact that it was rabbit).
Debbie C

Abbie said...

I was raised on a farm. We raised and ate: cows (I don't say "beef"- they are cows!), pigs, chickens, turkeys. They were pets with names. Yes I loved them. I loved that they lived a happy life, that they were loved, and that they now nourished us. Nothing takes away the sting of losing a pet cow like getting a new calf in the spring. As a child, I watched my dad kill the chickens or turkeys, helped my great-grandmother pluck them, helped my mom cook them, and then ate them with my whole family. That is what life is like on a farm, and that is where meat comes from. If you can't deal with it, become a vegetarian.

You shouldn't have to hide that you want to eat the bunnies when you adopt them. I agree with those who said you should get a breeding stock. Also, don't forget around Easter all of the people who get a pet bunny then decide they can't take care of it. We get former "pets" dropped off on our farm into the animal pen in the middle of the night. We've had bunnies, turtles, and this Easter, a lamb mysteriously appear. We take care of them, and I think people also like to bring their kids to visit them without having to take care of them. We also get all of the chickens that elementary schools hatch and then realize... oh what are we gonna do with these chickens? Or geese, or whatever. I think teaching children to hatch eggs without a plan for how to take care of them is totally irresponsible (lesson for later in life: have sex without the consequences). However, teaching children to respect the animals that become our food is very different.

I guess my perspective is different. I don't hide the fact that this is how I was raised. If I could raise all my own amials I would. But farmland is just way to expensive in CT. We do have pigs coming in about a month though.

DC said...

Crunchy, I hadn't really considered incorporating film noir and surrealism into the picture -- it was going to be a regular, mainstream family show. But if it's important to you, we can work in a little Blue Velvet angle somewhere. We'll have Greenpa morph into a guinea fowl after he gets sprayed by bunny blood, then start eating ticks off of Thumper's arse. The lesbian love scenes are also a good idea -- they'll hold people's attention more than watching bunnies roast in a solar cooker for five hours. I don't think your readers will be too shocked -- I think a lot of them assumed that when you said that you were going to talk about "women's hockey" a few days ago, that that was code for women's tennis (i.e., women's golf).

Denise said...

Although I love rabbits as pets (we have two rescue rabbits) if the animals are bred for food I don't see a problem. I agree with other commenters that adopting pet rabbits might not be the best route, but breeding your own might be very cost effective. If you do decide to keep rabbits, give them plenty of space and room to run around

Recently, Gordon Ramsey demonstrated how to catch wild rabbit (and took his son with him)on his TV programme "The F Word" (you can see how they did it here:
http://www.channel4.com/food/on-tv/f-word/pictures/ramsay-and-son-rabbit-hunters-extraordinaire-08-05-20_p_1.html ).

On another TV show here in the UK, communities are getting together to grow their own vegetables and raise their own pigs, chickens etc. http://www.channel4.com/food/on-tv/river-cottage/.

One benefit of keeping rabbits, whether as pets or livestock, as they are vegetarians their droppings are perfect in your compost!

Anonymous said...

My family decided to add meat rabbits to our semi-urban farm last fall. I looked into adopting them from shelters to make a breeding group. I didn't consider my doing so unethical. I DO think people who buy cute easter gifts for their kids and then cart them off to the animal dump a few months later are doing something wrong.

heather t said...

Yes, wrong to misrepresent your intentions to the shelter, but talk to them and see what is up with the rabbits that end up euthanized anyway.

From watching Animal Cops: Detroit (a reliable source of info, I'm sure), it seems that animals are euthanized straight off for one of two reasons:

1. They are sick - perhaps dangerous to eat them.
2. They are injured - they've suffered enough and a quick dispatch is the most merciful.

If you do post about the chicken dispatchation, please warn us ahead of time. I'll still read it (fascinated) but I need to shore myself up and clear the room of kidlets beforehand.

Oh, and I am also against raising children for meat. Most children.

RC said...

When the time comes to choose, this post is definitely one of your top ten, Ms. Crunchy.
Rabbits are extremely easy to raise and to prepare for eating. No one mentioned that due to an unusual type of very low fat meat they have they are very healthy for you in terms of losing weight, but are one of the less complete proteins.
It's great to see that the discussion on this blog is now way past the suburban concepts and quickly moving on to small homesteading. It might be time to sell the house {I am not so aware of the local market difficulties in your neck of the woods} and get a place with at least a half acre surrounding it. Three acres would be better. In a year's time I bet you will be thinking that way more and more. But the rabbits you can do right away, the manure can go directly on the garden, they don't take up much room and they turn into dinner easily.

Anonymous said...

No way should you adopt animals from the shelter for dinner! It would be unethical. If you worry about the shelter wasting ( by euthonizing) potential food, suggest to them that they have the meat prcessed and donated to food banks. Where I live the state does this with deer and other game meat.

But if you want to raise rabbits for meat, do it. I don't eat much meat these days but recall loving rabbit stew as a child, it was delicious.

Someone I know has pet rabbits and they say rabbits love dandelions. You can also compost their bedding and waste products.

Rebekka said...

Rabbits definitely love dandelions. We have two - not for eating - one we adopted and one that just turned up in our yard one night.

And you can use their poo straight on the garden, you don't have to compost it.

If you're going to use rabbits as your main source of meat, though, you should be aware of rabbit starvation - rabbit is too lean and too low in some of the amino acids we need to be our only source of protein:

"Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source--beaver, moose, fish--will develop diarrhoea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied." Vilhjalmur Stefansson (Arctic explorer).

Mind you, I agree that adopting animals from a shelter and then eating them is not on - and you're unlikely to get un-neutered animals. Buy a couple of a meat breed, like a Flemish Giant or a New Zealand White - or a Champagne D'Argent. You can help preserve genetic diversity and heritage breeds while also getting your meat.

emmer said...

i too suspect the rabbits may be neutered at the shelter. maybe not. it is a little trickier to "fix" a rabbit than a cat or dog, and it costs somewhat more. my kids raised new zealand reds in 4h. they did well. and with 2 bucks and 10 does, we dressed and ate or sold a lot of rabbits. if you work it out, i have some good recipes to share for rabbit cacciatori, rabbit in white wine sauce and rabbit sausage.
blessings,
emmer

Robj98168 said...

Soyelnt green is...people???

blondeoverboard said...

children as meat... wasn't that covered in "a modest proposal"?

Anonymous said...

I'd start sooner than later (with the prep to raise rabbits)
My neighbor is still trying to procure a breeding for meet pair.
If the still empty rice shelves, the insanely busy emergency food suppliers, and the lack of storage food in #10 cans are an indication, I'd say, the rush to secure food is definitely on.
Becky

heather t said...

Blonde Overboard gets an A+ in English Comp. Good work!

All this reminded me of today's post at Hobotopia:

http://apelad.blogspot.com/2008/06/laugh-out-loud-cats-860.html

Midnightsky Fibers said...

Nope. First, I don't know what they have eaten. Second, I don't think they are a good meat-to-food ratio. Chickens at least give you eggs (and you can get them cheaply or free on craigslist).

I am not opposed to meat or fish that people are raising themselves, but I think there are MANY better alaternatives to meat.

Robj98168 said...

Bunnies newest prayer

Riana Lagarde said...

ohh look at the fuss this raises. my sister has rabbits for food, we grew up on rabbits now i live in france where we eat rabbits all the time. its completely natural and a good animal to raise for meat. when my sis write about her rabbits for meat she gets a bizillion hate letters. people love their furry pets.

i did a "meet your meat" month and posted about meeting our rabbit dinner
http://garlic-breath.blogspot.com/2008/03/meet-your-meat-rabbit.html
complete with photo of my and sis when we were little with our pet bunny that was destined for the table.

have you checked the encyclopedia of country living by carla emery? a seattle published book, she is in the pnw and might list a place to get rabbits for husbandry or you can email me and i'll ask my sister to bring some up for you when we are there in july

jewishfarmer said...

DC, I have never laughed harder at anything I saw on the internet than your screenplay.

I would note, btw, that a major study by Cornell University last year, exploring the question of whether New York State could feed itself found that it could feed a larger population if small amounts of animal protein were included in everyone's diet. That's because animals make use of land and plants that human beings can eat - and they act as speed composters.

I completely agree that none of us (including our pets, perhaps especially our pets) should be eating meats raised on large quantities of human foods - ie, grains. That's one of the reasons rabbits are so ideal - they can eat mostly green products, yard wastes, garden scraps and basically help someone like crunchy produce *more* total food on a small urban lot than she could otherwise.

My meals are vegetarian 19 out of 21, but we also do raise our own meat animals and my kids know it. They like the turkeys and extra roosters - and they understand that they will be eaten. We live where land is hilly and steep, and most of it simply can't be tilled - the only way to make use of it for human food is to graze animals on it, and eat them or their milk or eggs. Since I don't want to see more land put into monoculture grain production to feed me, I'd much rather use the land we have, mow it without diesel fumes - and take advantage of the fact that our pastures also support wildlife in ways that other land can't.

Sharon

kimberly said...

i think it's an awful idea. i've had pet rabbits my whole life, and the idea of doing that sounds terrible to me. you're taking away a bunny, who could potentially grow up in a home, and you're killing it. for what? a single meal? i think that rabbit is worth a lot more than that meal. it also sounds like you're growing a lot of food in your backyard and aren't going hungry yet. it doesn't sound justified to me.
furthermore, how do you explain that to your kids? oh hey kids, we lied to this great non-profit organisation who cares about the welfare of animals, and now we're going to kill this rabbit ourselves (fun!) and then eat it. i don't think it would go over well.

Not up to my ears in credit card debt. said...

Get meat rabbits, just don't do it at the Humane Society. They are very inexpensive to raise, produce a very lean meat, and your children will be better off for it. We raised rabbits when I was a kid. It was always understood that they were not pets, they were food. I still have pets but I also have a healthy appreciation for where my meat comes from...and it's not some sterile room at the grocery store!

Chad said...

I think, dollar for lbs the far most ecomomical and easy to keep source of meat is under your feet. Earthworms. Of course nobody is going to to that, but if your going to keep a "worst case scenario" in the back of your mind, that would be one option. For the time being, I'd look for one or two hens. Certain breeds are more productive layers, and some are more pleasent to be around. If you have bare ground for most of the season, they will find most of the food they require when they scratch. Carefull managment of a small flock can be profitable without to much trouble. Your not going to get rich, but they certainly can pay for themselves. Somewhere on our site we've got a post about processing some roosters last season. I didn't go so far as to scald them, just peeled the skin of like a shirt. A feathery shirt. Don't get a rooster, you don't need one.

C.S. said...

Haven't read your entire blog, just happened upon it. But have you ever tasted wild game? Argh! Frankly, it tastes "gamey"...horrid. Tasted squirrel once and deer too; made me gag. And I don't care HOW it's prepared, I'll take some pinto beans or soybeans over that any day for protein.

Deception in adopting a pet for food might bring you some nasty karma -- and not all in the next life either.

Melinda said...

Crunchy, I wasn't going to comment, but then I read this:

"As for the vegan/vegetarian argument, the amount of petrochemicals (as fertilizer, farm equipment) needed to feed everyone a vegetarian diet has to be huge since the majority of people don't eat all organic vegetation. If the costs of petroleum keeps rising, the costs of eating a vegetarian diet will also rise. Plus there is the shipping and distribution cost. Sharon also makes an excellent point on how 'harmless' monocultured farming is."

Cows, sheep, pigs, bunnies, chickens... they usually eat monocultural crops that usually travel long distances and are very rarely organic. It takes much, much less farmland to feed vegetarians - I could feed myself in my backyard. Organically and sustainably.

And then I read this:

"The truth is that it is easy to be principled when you've got all the food in the world, easy to get your vegan food from monocultured grain fields that support no wildlife (of course it doesn't die, it just magically goes away
:-P), won't support pollinating insects, eating tofu made from soybeans harvested with a combine and drenched in the blood of ground-nesting birds, rabbits, etc... that get ground up in the process."

Come on now. You guys are comparing a conventional vegan/vegetarian diet with a homegrown meat diet. These are apples and oranges. Please compare apples with apples.

A backyard vegetarian diet vs. a backyard bunny diet. That's what you should be comparing. It's way too easy for both sides of this argument to say the other is using more petrochemicals through diesel and non-organic fertilizers and pesticides.

You two reach a lot of people with your blogs. Sharon, you eat 19 out of 21 meals without meat. You can say whatever you want, of course, but I personally think you have a responsibility to get your facts straight and disseminate good information.

Unless you're just saying all this to aggravate people and stir up controversy. In which case I think you can do a better job of agitating people toward action rather than polarity.

jennconspiracy said...

I'm with Melinda on this one - there are two primary issues that are salient to Crunchy's original post:

1. Is it ethical to adopt pet bunnies and eat them. The overall sense from the responses (and my own feeling) is definitely NO. You can buy a breeding group cheap at a feed & supply store, even investigating the kinds of bunnies that make better food vs. pets is in order before considering this kind of decision.

2. Is it better to feed your family a primarily vegetable diet from your backyard or should you add meat? I think veg is fine - it requires less and gives more. Plant some quinoa - it comes in some really great colors and doesn't bleed or scream when you kill it (and yes, bunnies do make a lot of noise and they don't like to be killed).

Mmm.... quinoa!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Melinda - I was trying to compare backyard vegetation (with throwing in a couple other critters) to strictly backyard vegetation. Which is why I wasn't referring to beef, but bunnies.

The note on the petrochemicals was in response to the comments about how innocuous a vegan/vegetarian diet is. I sincerely doubt that most vegans eat strictly from their yards.

And, that was my point... you really can't. Well, unless you are the Dervaes, and they have chickens and goats for eggs and milk. I know if I had to only eat from what I grow, we would starve. Hence the concept of supplementation with animals.

Really this was mostly a mental exercise about people's ideas of what's acceptable or not. What they were willing to do now and if it was different based on economic or food hardship.

Personally, the most I would be willing to go for at this point is raising chickens for eggs. We eat chicken or fish once a week at most. So, 20 out of 21 meals are vegetarian.

For the record, I have no intention of adopting rabbits from a shelter for bunny jerky. The thought crossed my mind that one could do this and, hence, the question: what's to stop them?

Jennsconspiracy - How much land do you need to grow quinoa? I wouldn't bother with corn as it takes up too much space for the little amount of food you get from it. How do grain crops compare if one is living on a really small urban/suburban yard?

Channyn said...

Hi,
My name is Channyn and I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I've had some general questions that I thought you might know the answer to, but haven't figured out how to include them anywhere. So here goes...
1. I haven't found it yet, but, have you ever talked about the impact of the meat industry and the benefits of a vegetarian diet on the environment?
There is some info about it here.
2. I have a big family, and I'm wondering if you know if it is better for us to eat off paper plates that I can compost, or to use regular plates and wash them everyday. (this has been praying on my mind).
3. I was glad, and slightly dismayed, to read your post about regular paraffin candles. So, now that I know how bad they are, what do I with the ones that I have now? Is it better to burn them or, if not, how should I dispose of them?

That's all for now, but have you considered a question and answer spot for your site?

Anonymous said...

i knew a peruvian family whose daughter would volunteer to take home the class guinea pigs at the end of the year... to be stuffed with herbs and barbequed.
there's a lot of good meat on a rabbit, and they breed like, well, rabbits. i don't have a problem with it, but the breeding pair idea is probably much more economical. think just of the fuel spent going back and forth to the shelter!
-magda

Amanda said...

This blog post adds an extra level of desperation (or, potential desperation, I guess) to the mix: in India, concerns about avian flu have lead many to replace chicken with rabbit.

sandnmyshooz said...

Hey Crunchy, why not check w/ some of the CSA farms in your area? Maybe some raise rabbits or chickens, in addition to all that wonderful produce. Or at least maybe one of them can point you in the direction of a small farmer you could buy from directly, rather than setting up your own chicken coops & rabbit hutches in your back yard....

Sally

Anonymous said...

Channyn,

Re: paper plates versus china plates. Go with the china plates, which can be purchased at a thrift store if you don't have any. The environmental cost of producing and transporting the paper plates plus the plastic they are generally wrapped in all have to be considered in the equation. We have a big party every summer and use paper plates for convenience and we also compost them but it's not environmentaly the best way to go.

jewishfarmer said...

Melinda, I talk specifically about what we do. The vegans/vegetarian advocates who have posted here have not - they have simply advocated a generic veg/vegan diet. So yes, I'm comparing grass fed, sustainably raised meat eating to standard veganism/vegetarianism, and I don't think it holds up. If someone posts "but I eat a vegan diet produced entirely from my yard and local organic producers" I'll answer that argument - and generally, my answer would be that that's a better choice - for some people, in some climates. Specifics matter. But just "have you considered veganism" isn't an answer, unless you tell me what kind of vegan we're talking about.

The truth is that these discussions need a lot more nuance than they get. What kind of shelter are we talking about? Kill or no kill? Because if the bunnies are going to be incinerated, going home with Crunch is a way better option. And in all our conversations about how these bunnies deserve better, there's no mention of the fact that the one way you can actually honor an animal you are going to kill is by not wasting it - making its life serve something. So if the choice is "death in a big pile of burned animals" (or euthanized, and sent to be made into pet food - yes, they do do that with the cats, and bunnies in shelter - it goes into conventional pet food along with the downer cows) or "humane slaughter to feed Crunchy's family" I'm all over that. On the other hand, lying to a no-kill shelter is, I think wrong - although breeding them for meat would be a grey area.

The same is true of the meat/no meat question. Eating meat raised on land that otherwise can't grow human food, and balancing that with a more sustainable diet is, IMHO, better than conventional veganism or vegetarianism. A vegan sustainable diet would be roughly comparable, but in some places a little inferior, because you probably could produce more human food in total by using animals. That's not true everywhere - but it is true in many places.

And there are side benefits - permanently grazed pastures that are heavily manured ultimately can sequester as much carbon as forests. They are much friendlier to wildlife, allowing human food and animal food to exist together in ways that they can't otherwise, and they make the best use of the space we've got, which is, to me, the ultimate argument in favor of a *light* (about 2oz a day) use of animal products in our diets - because we can't afford to use one single more acre than we have to to feed the world.

That said, I've no objection if large chunks of the population want to be vegan or vegetarian - I think that's a great choice - I just dislike seeing it represented as the best and only choice.

Sharon

Chile said...

Sharon, you got me musing about the possibilities of a local vegan diet here. We eat about 75% local, mostly through our CSA. Occasionally I get a few additional items at the Farmer’s Market and I buy local coffee through the Food Bank. Primary non-local foods currently are rice, sugar, and prepared soymilk. My sweetie loves rice but could give it up if forced to. I could get local honey, at a steep price, but I prefer sugar in my coffee. My CSA farmer doesn’t grow soybeans. If he did, I’d make my own soymilk.

I’m lucky to have a year-round CSA that grows a well-balanced variety of the nutrients needed for life: starchy vegetables, grains, dried beans, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits. With tweaking, we could live solely on the CSA share, although we’d probably need to get two instead of one. The grains, beans, and nuts do not come year-round but other parts of the share could be traded for extra of those items when they come. Or, as I did last year and this year, we could purchase extra directly from the farmer.

Now the problem with getting two shares just to be sure to get enough of the complex carbohydrates, as opposed to green and yellow vegetables, and fruits, is we’d still end up with more fresh food than we could consume. Sure, it could be preserved, but since the CSA is year-round, we’d still have excess preserved food. But, maybe that would be a good thing since the desert is going to get hotter and drier in this century!

Oh, and the gentleman who founded our CSA? He did live on only his CSA share for six months back when it first started. He lost a lot of weight, but at that time the farmer wasn’t producing much in the way of starchy vegetables (potatoes and sweet potatoes), grains, or dried beans. So yeah, a vegan can do it.

Could I do this in a region without year-round gardening possibilities? With sufficient planting of the starches and proper storage, yep. In any case, there’d be no reason to turn to meat if we were hungry as it’s damn near impossible to devise a diet short on protein if one is eating enough calories. Dried beans would be easier to grow and store than meat.

Maddie Can Fly said...

In my area (Midwest) the few times a bunny has been up for adoption, the adoption fee is $75 to $90. Not exactly "free" meat.

Anonymous said...

Didn't have time to read all the comments, sorry if someone else has already suggested this.

Setting to one side the whole vegan vs. non-vegan thing for one moment, and assuming that you have decided to eat at least some meat:

There must be people who get into raising rabbits for meat, but then for one reason or another decide to discontinue. I am guessing that once in a great while some of their rabbits end up in animal shelters. Indeed, this might possibly be the reason for some of the bunnies you noticed at your local shelter.

Might I suggest approaching the local shelter, being honest and upfront about your intent, and telling them that you would be interested in having anyone's unwanted rabbits that were being raised for meat. You might even suggest that if they are contacted by such people, they refer them to you and you'll accept their rabbits. Now you are performing the shelter a service: you are reducing the influx of animals that were not really raised as pets in the first place, might thus not be all that suitable as pets, and thus will just take up space and food and ultimately will have to be destroyed.

I guess that people who believe that any killing of any animal at any time for any reason will still take great exception to this suggestion. So be it. It does seem to me, though, that my suggestion would be quite a bit more ethical than the rather deceptive plan that you described.

WNC Observer

Anonymous said...

I hope this is a joke...One does not adopt a pet from a rescue league then eat it. I am in disbelief that you should entertain this thought. Anyway, the meat of a domestic rabbit as these are are not edible as wild ones.

Isle Dance said...

If one reads The China Study, the whole issue is solved...

http://thechinastudy.com/PDFs/ChinaStudy_Excerpt.pdf

Isle Dance said...

Oh...and www.rawfamily.com handles any food concern gaps.

ashley said...

When did this disconnect between live animal and meat begin? In the suburbs we go to the grocery store and buy boneless skinless meat packaged in plastic and styrofoam and hardly have to think about where it came from. I think it is a much more honest way to eat meat...to know the animal it came from and know it died for your nourishment and to eat it with thanks and prudence.

steve said...

Hi Crunchy Chicken, I have heard of you from Casubon's Book before this, but, LOL, I swear I just sat down with two scrumptious rabbit quesidilla's from meat that I raised in my back yard (left overs from two nites ago as well, waste not want not). I almost choked when I stumbled upon this post and some of the comments. To kill a rabbit is very easy, at least the physical part of it, the pysch part takes me a couple cups of coffee. Just a stick to the back of the noggin. I live right next door to an apartment complex, so I get up early and try to do the deed when the smokers are not out on the balcony committing slow suicide. Like Dad always says, "If you don't want to know the answer to a question, don't ask the question." So I never asked the city fathers for their blessing, I just eat rabbit, oh and chickens as well. As for the shelter, baby, if my kids are hungry and there is mostly free meat, my children will eat. nough said. steven

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