Rabbits can be a sustainable beef alternative

Aside from issues of poor animal welfare, deforestation, and pollution, industrial animal agriculture generates around 14.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the United Nations Food Agriculture Organization (UN FAO). Many people are now seeking alternatives to conventional meat sources, and one of those growing in popularity is rabbit. 

Photo: Dmitriy Ignatenko/Unsplash

Many chefs and farmers consider rabbits and small rodents as promising alternative protein sources to cows and pork. In several parts of the world, more and more restaurants and households are already incorporating rabbits, guinea pigs, porcupines, and squirrels in their dishes. 

Studies from the UN FAO and other institutions suggest that rabbit meat is healthier and that raising one emits less GHG than other livestock. Hunting invasive rodents for food will also provide double benefits to smallholder farmers, according to Virginia Teach professor of wildlife conservation, Dr. Heather Eves. Reducing the number of invasive species help farmers secure their farms while also making food products from caught animals will be an additional source of income. 

Despite the benefits, rabbit and rodent raisers continue to face some challenges in popularizing their meat products. Aside from being popular choices as pets, some may also associate eating rabbits and rodents with poverty. Without popular demand, raisers and farmers may be able to fully realize the industry's potential just yet. 


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