UPDATE September 16, 2015: Whole Foods announces that it will STOP selling rabbit meat. Yay!
Whole Foods is now selling rabbit meat in some of their northern California stores. The House Rabbit Society has issued an outraged response and called for a boycott of Whole Foods, together with a sample letter.
Whole Foods countered by saying that “Americans have a long history of enjoying rabbit,” citing a Los Angeles Times article. Whole Foods continues by assuring everyone that the rabbits which are eaten have been treated in accordance with their “high animal welfare standards.” Evidently treating them well and killing them are compatible in Whole Foods’ ideology.
Kate and I responded by sending a letter (below) to John Mackey decrying this decision and urging him to reconsider.
People have a natural revulsion to eating meat, unless they have been socially conditioned to accept it. Eating dogs is acceptable in some cultures, while eating cows is rejected in others. We should be encouraging people to view animals as what they actually are — sentient, feeling creatures. Whole Foods would do better not to expand the list of species which people are encouraged to eat, and instead urge people to eat less meat. Whole Foods is helping condition Americans to view cruelty to rabbits as acceptable.
I’d suggest that a boycott of Whole Foods is in order. In the meantime, you can sign this petition and write John Mackey expressing your outrage at this development.
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July 1, 2014
John Mackey, Co-CEO
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703-4644
Dear Mr. Mackey:
We understand that you intend to start selling rabbit meat in some of your northern California stores. We strongly urge you to reconsider this.
We’ve had house rabbits in the past and found them to be intelligent, lovable companions. Eating rabbit meat is basically disgusting and outrageous. Our reaction to seeing rabbit meat would be the same as most Americans’ reaction to cat or dog meat.
Rabbits are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs; there are nine million pet rabbits in the United States. Virtually everyone who has ever had a pet rabbit is going to be repulsed at the sight of rabbit carcasses for sale. This will also incur the enmity of every animal-lover in the country and encourage a “boycott Whole Foods” movement among precisely the groups that should be your closest allies. Is this a viable business model?
Like you, we are vegans. You are probably aware of the pitfalls of trying to run an ethical business in a meat-eating culture. Whole Foods in the past has come down on the side of encouraging people to think of food in as positive a way as possible, such as publicizing the “ANDI” scores for foods in your stores. Americans are eating less and less meat, and we should be encouraging this tendency rather than caving into demands that everything and anything that moves is “meat.”
Please reverse this decision or we will boycott Whole Foods and encourage others to do the same. We look forward to your response.
Kate Lawrence and Keith Akers