Rabbit as Food: The Sustainable and Nutritious Meat You Need to Try

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), cottontail rabbits (genus Sylvilagus; 13 species), and the Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, an endangered species on Amami Ōshima, Japan). There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about eating rabbit, from its health benefits to its preparation and cooking methods.

What is rabbit

The Lingo of Lagomorph: A Look at the Terminology and Etymology of Rabbit Meat

Rabbit meat is produced and sold as a type of produce, similar to other meats like beef or pork. However, the term “rabbit” is not always used to refer to the meat itself. Here are some common terms associated with rabbit meat:

  • Bunny: This term is sometimes used to refer to the meat, but it is more commonly used to refer to a young rabbit.
  • Hare: While hares are a different species than rabbits, the term “hare” is sometimes used to refer to rabbit meat.
  • Coniglio: This is the Italian word for rabbit, and it is often used to refer to rabbit meat dishes.

How is Rabbit Meat Produced and Sold?

Rabbit meat is produced and sold in a similar way to other meats. Here are some common practices associated with rabbit meat production and sales:

  • Butcher shops: Rabbit meat can be found in some butcher shops, particularly those that specialize in game meats.
  • Supermarkets: Some supermarkets sell fresh or frozen rabbit meat in the meat section.
  • Traditional dishes: Rabbit meat is often associated with traditional dishes in certain cultures, such as rabbit stew in France or rabbit grilled over an open flame in Spain.
  • Online markets: Some online markets sell rabbit meat, often sourced from small-scale producers.

What is the Etymology of Rabbit Meat?

The term “rabbit” comes from the Middle English word “rabet” or “robett,” which in turn comes from the Old French word “lapin.” The term “lapin” originally referred to a young rabbit, but it eventually came to refer to rabbit meat as well.

What Biological Data is Relevant to Rabbit Meat?

Here are some biological data points that are relevant to rabbit meat:

  • Weight: Rabbits typically weigh between 1 and 2 kg (2.2 to 4.4 lb) when sold for meat.
  • Reproduction: Female rabbits have a cyclic reproductive rhythm that is induced by sexual activity. Ovulation and receptivity occur within hours of mating.
  • Fat content: Rabbit meat is low in fat compared to other meats, with the highest fat content found in the hind legs.
  • Quality: Rabbit meat is known for its tender texture and sharp, gamey flavor.
  • Increasing popularity: Rabbit meat consumption has been increasing in recent years due to its sustainability and health benefits.

Is Rabbit Meat Safe and Healthy to Eat?

Rabbit meat contains a lot of protein, making it an excellent source of essential nutrients for building and repairing muscles, skin, and blood. Unlike beef, rabbit meat is lean and contains fewer fats, making it a healthier option for people who want to stay active and energetic throughout the day.

The Benefits of Eating Rabbit Meat

  • Rabbit meat is a great source of energy and can be eaten every day as part of a healthy diet.
  • It is a smaller animal, which means it is less expensive than beef and other larger meats.
  • Rabbit meat is available at local butchers and can be a good idea to consider when looking to vary your protein supply.
  • When properly stored, rabbit meat can last for several days, making it a convenient food to carry and cook.
  • Rabbit meat contains essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, and micrograms of other vitamins and minerals that are important for maintaining good health.

How to Start Eating Rabbit Meat

  • Look for local butchers or specialty stores that offer rabbit meat.
  • When buying rabbit meat, make sure to consider the type of cut and the guidelines for cooking and storing it properly.
  • Start by trying out new recipes that incorporate rabbit meat into your diet.
  • Always make sure to cook rabbit meat thoroughly to ensure that it is safe to eat.

Why Eating Rabbit Meat is Different from Eating Other Animals

  • Rabbit meat is a type of lean meat that contains fewer fats than other meats.
  • Unlike beef and other meats, rabbit meat is a great source of plant-based nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health.
  • Rabbit meat is a great option for people who want to eat smaller portions of meat but still get the same amount of protein and other essential nutrients.
  • If you buy a whole rabbit, cut it into smaller pieces for easier cooking.
  • Use a sharpened knife to cut through the bones and make sure to remove any excess fat.
  • If the rabbit is frozen, defrost it in the fridge overnight or use the defrosting process in your microwave.
  • Rinse the rabbit pieces under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Marinate the rabbit pieces in your favorite mix of herbs and spices for a couple of hours or overnight to add extra flavor.

Choosing the Best Rabbit Meat: A Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to buying rabbit meat, it’s important to know the different types of rabbits available. The majority of rabbit meat comes from domesticated breeds, which are specifically raised for meat production. However, wild rabbits can also be found in some markets. Keep in mind that wild rabbits are smaller and leaner than domesticated ones, which can affect the taste and texture of the meat.

What to Look for When Buying Rabbit

Here are some things to keep in mind when buying rabbit meat:

  • Look for meat that is firm and has a good color. The meat should be pinkish-white and not have any discoloration or dark spots.
  • Make sure the rabbit has been properly prepared and cleaned. The head, feet, and internal organs should be removed, and the meat should be free of any hair or debris.
  • Check the label to see if the rabbit has been fed a natural diet. Rabbits that have been fed a diet of hay and greens will have a better flavor than those that have been fed commercial rabbit feed.
  • If you’re buying a whole rabbit, make sure it’s the right size for your needs. Larger rabbits will have more meat, but smaller ones may be more tender.
  • Be sure to separate the meat from the bones before cooking. Rabbit bones are small and can be difficult to remove once the meat is cooked.

Important Facts About Rabbit Breeding

If you’re interested in raising your own rabbits for meat, here are some important facts to keep in mind:

  • Rabbits breed quickly and can have litters of up to 12 kits.
  • The gestation period for rabbits is only 28-31 days, so they can produce a large supply of meat in a short amount of time.
  • Rabbits can be raised in a cage or allowed to roam free in a larger space.
  • Owners should provide their rabbits with a diet of hay, greens, and rabbit feed, as well as treats like beet and potatoes.
  • Breeding rabbits should be kept separate from other rabbits to prevent unwanted litters.
  • Rabbits are wonderful pets and can be very gratifying to raise, but it’s important to remember that they are also a source of meat.

The Sustainable Benefits of Raising and Consuming Rabbit Meat

Raising rabbits for meat is a sustainable way to provide food for people while minimizing the environmental impact. Here are some reasons why:

  • Rabbits require less water and feed than other animals, such as cattle, to produce the same amount of meat. In fact, rabbits can produce six pounds of meat on the same feed and water that cattle consume to produce only one pound. This means a smaller overall carbon footprint.
  • Rabbits are small animals that can be raised in a small area, making them a great option for those who want to maintain a small herd or have limited space.
  • Rabbits are delicate animals that require clean living conditions, which means that they produce a clean and high-quality product.
  • Rabbits are also a great source of protein, with a higher protein level than many other meats we consume.

The Importance of Understanding the Environmental Impact of Food Consumption

Consumers have the power to increase the demand for sustainable and environmentally-friendly food products by understanding the impact of their food consumption. Here are some ways to utilize this power:

  • Consumers can choose to support small-scale farmers who raise animals sustainably and utilize environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Consumers can choose to include rabbit meat in their diets as a sustainable and healthy alternative to other meats.
  • Consumers can educate themselves on the environmental impact of their food choices and make informed decisions about what they eat.

Overall, raising and consuming rabbit meat is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to provide food for people while minimizing the impact on the environment. By understanding the benefits of rabbit meat and supporting sustainable practices, consumers can make a positive impact on the food chain and the environment.

Why Rabbit Meat is Packed with Essential Nutrients

Rabbit meat is a great source of protein, containing 28 grams of protein per 100-gram portion. Unlike other meats, rabbit meat is low in fat, with only 3.6 grams of fat per 100-gram portion. This means that you can get all the benefits of protein without consuming too many fats.

Excellent Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Rabbit meat is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly. According to dietary guidelines, adults need at least 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily, and rabbit meat contains 3.5 micrograms per 100-gram portion. It also contains high levels of niacin, which is important for metabolizing fats, carbs, and proteins, and for maintaining healthy skin, blood, and nerves.

Lean Meat with Low Net Carbs

Rabbit meat is a lean meat, meaning it contains less fat than other meats like pork or beef. It also has low net carbs, making it a great option for those trying to maintain a healthy diet. Unlike plant-based foods, rabbit meat is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the building blocks our bodies need to make new proteins.

Boosts Immune System and Aids Thyroid Function

Rabbit meat contains minerals like zinc and selenium, which are important for boosting our immune system and aiding thyroid function. It also contains iron, which is essential for making red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout our bodies.

Similar Nutrient Content to Chicken and Broccoli

When compared to other animal-based foods, rabbit meat has a similar nutrient content to chicken. It also contains more nutrients than broccoli, making it a great option for those trying to get all the essential nutrients their bodies need.

Rabbit: The Healthier and More Sustainable Meat Choice

Rabbit meat is a lean protein source that is low in fat and calories. In fact, according to the USDA, rabbit meat has the lowest percentage of fat and calories compared to other meats like beef, chicken, and fish. It also contains a high percentage of protein and essential amino acids, making it a healthy choice for those looking to build muscle or maintain a healthy diet. Additionally, rabbit meat is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.

The Differences in Cooking and Preparing Rabbit Meat

When it comes to cooking and preparing rabbit meat, there are a few things to consider. Rabbit meat is delicate and requires a gentle cooking style, such as simmering or braising. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, including roasted, grilled, or stewed. Additionally, rabbit meat is often compared to chicken in terms of taste and texture, but it has a slightly different flavor profile that is often described as mild and slightly sweet. When buying rabbit meat, it’s important to choose a fresh, high-quality product and store it properly to ensure it stays fresh.

The Controversy Surrounding Rabbit Meat

Despite its many health and sustainability benefits, rabbit meat remains a contentious food choice for many Americans. Some people find the idea of eating rabbit meat unappetizing, while others are concerned about the ethical implications of consuming a cute and cuddly animal. However, rabbit meat is consumed in many parts of the world, including China, Haiti, and France, where it is considered a delicacy. By following proper guidelines for sourcing and preparing rabbit meat, Americans can enjoy a healthy and sustainable food choice that is both delicious and nutritious.


So, that’s rabbit as food. It’s not something most people think about very often, but it’s a great alternative to beef and pork. You can eat the meat, the fur, and even the eggs! Plus, they’re pretty cute. So, why not give them a try? You might just like them!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.