Rabbit meat: valuable nutrition or too-cute-to-eat?





nutrition, meat, welfare, pet, society, food studies


Rabbit meat is a component of traditional diets, often incorporated into iconic dishes of regional cuisine. Its consumption can be traced back to the ancient civilisations of the Mediterranean and beyond, well into the Palaeolithic era. Even though it has been representing considerable nutritional and cultural value for millennia, a decline in consumption is now noticeable. Specific categorial dynamics are at play, related to the various superimposed roles of rabbits as livestock, game, pests, laboratory animals and pets. Their perceived cuteness in particular can lead to emotional responses that are hard to reconcile with the sensitivities of the post-domestic paradigm. Such effects compromise the acceptability of rabbit meat in contemporary Western societies that are typified by problematic human-animal interactions and a disconnect from the food chain. Young and urban populations in particular now seem to have difficulties facing the notion that food production requires the killing of animals. As a result, a traditional food source risks becoming irrelevant despite its high nutritional value and potential for sustainable meat production, due to reasons that are emotive rather than rational.


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Author Biographies

Frédéric Leroy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO), Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences

Massimiliano Petracci, University of Bologna

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum


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