I know many of you probably already caught a glimpse of one of our most proud homestead moments on Instagram a few weeks ago but if you didn’t here it is again:
That my friends are two beautiful, finger licking rabbits whose lives we had a part in from the moment of their conception (albeit we didn’t do much there), all the way up to our dinner plate. I have to admit, it was absolutely freaking delicious. It was also very sobering. I think anyone who raises their own animals for food will tell you that it is an eye opening and thought provoking experience. In fact it’s taken a few weeks for me to get all my thoughts down about the process to share with you. I have a nice little series worked up for you on some of the details of how we do things around here with them, but first I wanted to address a question that has been irking me for weeks.
I would estimate 70-90% of the time when we mention that we are raising rabbits for meat we get this question:
How Can You Eat Your Pets?
Oh how many times I have been asked that. More often than not the person wrinkles their nose in disgust or shakes their head at what a horrible animal killing person I am when the topic arises. “I could never do that”, they say as they quickly change the topic or listen awkwardly as I attempt to explain our reasoning for choosing to raise rabbits for meat.
But to be really frank, it just plain ticks me off. There I said it.
Now before I get on this rant of mine I should note that I tend to lump people in this area into two categories.
1) The people who are freaked out by the raising of animals and butchering process, but who are informed and WANT a different way even if they haven’t changed anything in their lives.
2) The people who wrinkle their noses at me or label me a “baby bunny killer” who are the very same people eating factory raised meat ALL THE TIME with no regard for the animals lives that they took or the potential problems that have happened to the meat they are consuming.
My take away point:
If you want to turn your nose up at me for humanely raising and butchering my own meat than you had gosh darn better be a vegetarian. (The irony is most of the vegetarian’s I have met actually completely respect and are grateful towards those of us who care about how our food gets on our table.)
You have a responsibility to be educated and educate your children on what you are putting in your mouth day in and day out. Whether you want to admit it or not, animals live’s are taken in order that your life may continue to exist. Living in your mess-free, blood-free, packaged in pretty little foam packaged world does not change that. In fact it perpetuates the problem.
Do you realize that 80% of our beef is processed in this country by just FOUR companies? That 35 million cattle (that’s 35,000,000 individual cows) are slaughtered in the U.S. annually by only 60 major beef-packing operations!?!
To put this in perspective that means that each plant is processing and packing:
583, 333 cows per year
48, 611 cows per month
1620 cows per day
Over 1600 cows per day! And you really think that your little package of hamburger was carefully inspected and cared for?
Do you know how many food recalls there are every year?
These places are giant cesspools of bacteria and blood and guts and chemicals. How can they not be? There is no sunshine, there is no wind, there is no rest time between one butchering and the next. It’s not natural.
It is absolutely illogical to expect them to be anything different. No amount of regulations can change the fact that a mass produced piece of meat will always be that, and you can be assured that to keep the infections down and the profit levels high that your food, your innocent little package of hamburger is not guaranteed to be safe or chemical free.
Suddenly me being a “rabbit killer” doesn’t sound so bad does it?
So if you are one of those nose wrinklers (or have been in the past), educate yourself. If you still decide to eat what you eat, at least don’t judge those of us around you who are trying to do something different.
And yes, I understand what it is like to know this stuff and still have to buy meat at the grocery store. Can I afford local grass-fed beef or locally raised chickens all the time right now? Nope. Every time I put a package of meat in my cart I understand that is the industry that I am supporting.
But we are trying. Trying to make a difference, to live by our convictions and eat the things that support the kind of living and food we believe in. And every rabbit we put in the freezer, every chicken that we process, every package of deer meat that we trade with friends for, or will hunt for…..is precious and a step in the right direction.
So in response to the question, “How can we eat our pets?”. My answer is always this…..they aren’t our pets. We eat animals that we raise for meat. They don’t get names and they don’t get coddled. They get affection yes, a scratch under the chin at feeding time etc. but we don’t bring them in the house or anything like that.
We respect these animals. We try our best to give them a good life and we thank God for their sacrifices as we end that life as humanely as possible.
In summary the answer to my original post title is yes….raising rabbits for our family table is absolutely worth it. We know exactly what they ate, what they have been exposed to, how they were processed and how that meat was cared for. That is worth every penny.
We will continue this discussion about how exactly we have them setup, what we feed them, and all the nitty gritty of how we actually take the idea of raising a meat rabbit all the way to the dinner table.