The New York Times triggered some hubbub on the Web when it touted rabbit meat as... well... the New Chicken. The lengthy and detailed article, from March 2, discussed methods of raising and slaughtering rabbits, spotlighted a seminar on how to kill the creatures, and quoted extensively from sources extolling the virtues of rabbit meat. "This is my gateway animal," proclaimed a woman who is considering raising livestock in her backyard.
Indeed, rabbit is a popular delicacy on restaurant menus. "Every time I put it on the menu, it flies out the door," noted a San Francisco restauranteur. Raising rabbit is apparently also all the rage among urban folks who wish to raise animals but aren't quite ready for larger farm animals.
As the story's author Kim Severson noted:
The meat is lean and healthy, and makes an interesting break from chicken. For people learning to butcher at home, a rabbit is less daunting to cut up than a pig or a goat. And those who are truly obsessed with knowing where their food comes from can raise it themselves.
The New York Times article became the focus of several Blogs, including Huffington Post, The National Post and Salon.com. Most of these Blogs discussed the article in a celebratory tone.
It is interesting to note that the headline in the original New York Times story was "Don't Tell the Kids." Why? Because children love bunnies. In general, children possess an instinctive love for animals that is often not quite as strong in adults. I am reminded of my cousin's young daughter, who became a vegetarian long before I did, simply because she loves animals and does not want to see them suffer. In other words, she avoids meat for the noblest reason there is.
My cousin, in one of his Facebook posts, sort of laughed off his daughter's youthful idealism. But there is something about children - omnivores and vegetarians alike - that is more sensitive to the pain and suffering that animals endure. They haven't quite been fully taught - maybe conditioned is a better word - how to rationalize, justify, explain away and live in total denial. Sadly, as we grow older, most of us are socialized to abandon our natural love for animals. We are trained by societal norms to disassociate, to forget that the food we are eating was once part of a living, breathing creature with feelings, emotions, loved ones, a desire to live life, et cetera.
So that's why the New York Times article on butchering rabbits advises us not to tell the kids. Because children haven't been corrupted yet. They instinctively know something many of the rest of us have long since forgotten: That animals deserve the right to a happy life.