Everyone is asking questions about meat lately. Is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Should we be eating it all?
While you consider what to put on the table for dinner tonight, take a minute to consider skipping the usual beef, pork, or lamb, and opt for something new.
Here are three good reasons to choose local rabbit for dinner tonight.
1. For the planet
Livestock is a major contributor to climate change, especially beef cattle and lamb. These animals are ruminants. As they graze, the grass breaks down in their stomach and releases CO2 and methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The UN estimates that gases from ruminant digestion represent 39% of emissions from the livestock industry.
Other animals like pigs, poultry, and rabbits, digest their food differently and produce far fewer gases. Greenhouse gases are also produced in growing feed for livestock and small animals like rabbits need less feed, lowering their carbon footprint even further.
If the average American replaced the conventionally-raised beef in their diet with meat from small animals, they’d reduce their carbon footprint by 882 pounds of CO2 per year, according to the University of Michigan.
Choosing pasture-raised meat, regardless of the species, can also help reduce your carbon footprint.
2. For your health
If you’re concerned about getting enough protein and iron while avoiding unhealthy fat, there is hardly a better option than rabbit. Each serving contains 28 grams of protein(more than beef or pork), but fewer calories and less fat.
Rabbit have mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. They contain virtually no saturated or trans fat. It also contains higher amounts of iron and vitamin B12 than either pork or beef.
Many of these same benefits can be found with pasture-raised chickens and other small animals, especially those fed balanced diets on open pasture.
3. For your tastebuds
If you’re an adventurous home cook, you probably get a little bored cooking beef and broccoli. Open up a whole new world with rabbit, game, and small animals.
Rabbit is a traditional part of French, German, Maltese, and Szechuan cuisine. In America, rabbit has long been out of fashion but recently has re-emerged on the menus at upscale restaurants.
You can impress your friends and family with your cosmopolitan worldliness by cooking up our recipe for rabbit tonight.
But don’t stop there!! These same three benefits can be found with a variety of small livestock raised by Michigan farmers. If you are trying to eat less beef, pork, and lamb, make a point to cook something new once a week or once a month.
Have you tried stewing a richly flavored, dark-meat laying hen? What about free-range duck? What about quail? You’ll find new dishes to love, while knowing that you’ve invested in a greener, healthier, more diversified local food system.
More on rabbit, health, and climate change:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Key Facts and Findings
Center of Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan: Carbon Footprint Factsheet
Nick Jones is the Local Food Coordinator for Metro Detroit. Contact him at [email protected]
Check out our UP Local Food Coordinator’s recipe for rabbit here.