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Rabbit as an alternative meat. Is it legal to eat one?

This pandemic has shaped not just people’s behavior but also the food in our table. During this pandemic, prices of meat have been soaring high.  The market prices of pork even reach at 400 pesos per kilo while chicken at 250, fish at 400 while beef is priced at 450 per kilo.  Hence looking for a cheaper but healthier alternative is an option.

With the expensive meat source some people have taken their interest on the rabbits as alternative rich protein source. Although rabbits are typically kept as adorable pets in our country. But rabbit meat offers a healthier option.

A position paper by the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics of the University of the Philippines Los Baños said that now may be the "opportunity for the country to start exploring alternative protein sources."

The Department of Agriculture has long thought of rabbit meat as a potential replacement for pork. It revisited the idea again in 2020 when it became apparent that the African swine fever outbreak had yet to be contained. In a chance interview last year, Agriculture Secretary William Dar told reporters that a rabbit's growth cycle is very short, making it an ideal substitute added to the fact that rabbit has the highest protein contents among the meat available.

There's huge potential for rabbit meat, but farmers noted that the Philippines has a long way to go for it to be widely available and acceptable. The rabbit industry is still looking for ways to lower prices. There are only a few farmers and most are raising rabbits just in their backyards. We still can't produce enough to meet the demand of some restaurants. We're still in the stage of looking for more raisers.

A rabbit takes around two to three months to reach marketable size, while pigs take over double the period. Chickens are fully grown between 28 and 45 days. But while it takes less time to raise rabbits as compared to pigs, meat quality is also another issue that needs to be addressed.

It may take a change of mindset for Filipinos to see rabbits as more than just pets, but perhaps in this current crisis, it may be time to give rabbit meat a taste.

For those who may be cringing at the thought of biting into a rabbit’s leg, realize that rabbit meat is consumed as an everyday source of protein in many parts of the world, most notably in Europe. You’ll find them sold everywhere, from local butchers to chain supermarkets. In Spain, paella Valenciana is traditionally cooked with rabbit meat. In France, rabbit is stewed in red wine. In Italy, it is cooked cacciatore style with tomatoes and wine, or else braised with olives. And during hunting season in the fall, it’s not hard to find wild hare on restaurant menus throughout Europe.

There are number of advantages for using rabbit as an alternative meat source. One rabbit is the best healthy meat as it has lower cholesterol than any other meat and higher protein contents than beef or pork. It’s ideal for those looking for a leaner diet, but who don’t want to go altogether meat-free. Rabbits are relatively easy to grow, and they propagate faster. Besides, they eat a “clean” vegetarian diet and do not require the growth hormones or antibiotics prevalent in the poultry industry.

IT’S LEGAL TO EAT RABBITS

And as per Philippine law, rabbits are categorized as livestock and poultry just like pork, chicken, and beef. There are also certain breeds of rabbits that can be used as meat like Californian, New Zealand, Palomino, Chinchilla unlike the ones as pets which are the fancy rabbits. Though they can be eaten, the difference is their meat to bone ratio.  But it outweighs the benefits it will give to your body.  So, what are you waiting let grab a rabbit leg and get to use of our special bunny. Write us at carillogerry@yahoo.com.ph.