Rabbit meat used to be as common for dinner as chicken is today. My family and grandparents all grew up eating rabbit, and raising them in their backyards. It is the protein source that got many families through the tough times of the Depression, and in Europe, WWII, according to our surviving family friends. One of the reasons rabbits were such a gem is they were quiet and could be hidden from neighbors, to have a secret source of meat! A family could raise rabbits and nobody know they were there.
Rabbit lost popularity as massive factory farms were set up – you simply cannot pack rabbits together as you can chickens. They will fight and kill each other (lucky rabbits for missing out). As people turned to cheap plentiful factory farmed (anti-biotic & hormone-laden) meat sources, rabbits got squeezed out of the picture. Its making a recent come-back, though! Here’s a list of reasons:
1. Rabbit is one of the best white meats. Being a mammal, it provides mammal-appropriate building blocks (such as tendons) that chickens do not, for those with health problems like tendonitis.
2. Rabbits are not fed corn and soy, like chickens. Chickens are a nutritional desert. Commercial rabbitries feed alfalfa pellets with some grain filler. At Trickster Hares Farm, we feed alfalfa pellets, a little barley, grass hay, and all of our vegetable scraps, yard trimmings, vegetable garden plants, harvested grass from the pasture, and vegetarian restaurant leftovers. Our rabbits eat well! They have a varied diet rich in different sources of nutrients. Oh, did I mention we pasture-raise as many as possible? Green growing grass is their natural food source, increasing their nutrition, just like cattle and sheep. We’ve likewise planted food crops just for them, such as mulberry trees and apple trees.
3. The meat has a high percentage of easily digestible protein.
4. Rabbit is very lean, containing the least amount of fat among all the other available meets.
5. Rabbit meat contains less calorie value than other meats.
6. Rabbit meat is almost cholesterol free and therefore heart patient friendly.
7. Rabbit has an almost ideal fatty acid ratio of 4:1 omega-6 to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids
8. The sodium content of rabbit meat is comparatively less than other meats.
9. The calcium and phosphorus contents of this meat or more than any other meats.
10. The ratio of meat to bone is high meaning there is more edible meat on the carcass than even a chicken.
11. Rabbit meat does not have a strong flavor and is comparable to chicken but not identical. I personally find rabbit “fills me up” on less that the amount of chicken I have to eat to feel satisfaction. Rabbit does well with all your favorite chicken recipes.
12. Rabbits are one of the most productive domestic livestock animals. Rabbits can produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as it takes a cow to produce 1 pound. That means a lighter footprint on the planet!
Thanks to Rise and Shine Rabbitry for some of the facts in this post!