To meet what it says is a growing customer demand, Whole Foods Market is testing the sale of rabbit meat in select locations. However, the decision is being met with opposition and protests from rabbit advocacy and rescue groups, culminating in a day of action and protests on Sunday.
“The rabbits raised for meat are exactly the same as the rabbits living in our homes, snoozing on our couches, begging for treats in the kitchen, and trading nose bonks with the family cat,” stated the House Rabbit Society, which helped organize the protests at more than 40 Whole Foods Market locations across the country.
As part of the day of action, protestors passed out leaflets stating, "Whole Foods Market sells pets in their meat case. #Savethebunnies", reports the Los Angeles Times.
For its part, Whole Foods issued a statement that the company had been on a four-year process to develop a set of standards addressing the welfare issued in rabbit meat production.
“The welfare-focused standards we developed at Whole Foods Market, are designed around their instinctual behaviors and include more than 75 species-specific requirements that ensure the overall health and well-being of the animals,” the company said in a statement. The rabbit welfare standards are available at http://assets.wholefoodsmarket.com/www/departments/meat/WholeFoodsMarket-PilotAnimalWelfareStandardsforRabbits-September2013.pdf.
“We’ve worked closely with our supplier to set up several innovative family farms that are meeting those standards, and are now testing the program in a limited number of our stores within northern California and in the Washington, DC metro area,” the company said. “It was important to us to provide rabbits that were raised in better conditions than what the industry offered.”
Source: Whole Foods Market, House Rabbit Rescue, Los Angeles Times