I've gotten some feedback about my plans to raise and eat rabbits that accuses me of animal cruelty. While I can truly appreciate passion for any cause, especially issues of humanity and compassion, I think this accusation is coming from an emotional place instead of a rational one.
People can't see past the cuteness of rabbits. We personify rabbits in story books and Easter tales, and you can look a "bunny" in the eyes and melt over his fluffy fur and floppy ears. Do you get the same feeling about a dirty grunting farm pig, or a slimy salmon? Rabbits, pigs and fish are animals that are low on the foodchain and commonly domesticated for food, yet the cuteness of rabbits seems to be putting them in a different emotional category. We've all had pet goldfish, but when a boy goes fishing with his grandpa, no one says, "Aww, what about the cute little fishy?"
If I am not killing my own meat, then someone else is going to be doing it far less humanely in a slaughterhouse. The more we can separate ourselves from the slaughterhouse industry (either by living a vegetarian lifestyle, handling the slaughter of our own meat, or creating relationships with local farms), the less of a demand there will be for this type of treatment towards animals. Killing my own food is actually a step towards preventing animal cruelty.
Photo of a commercial turkey farm from flickr user Jaci Berkopec
Animal cruelty is the act of hurting an animal and allowing it live to feel the pain, such as beating a dog, or cutting off the tusks of a living elephant. It is knowing an animal is in pain and then consciously allowing it to continue suffering.
Animal cruelty is also killing an animal without intending to use all of it's parts, such as hunting for sport and then discarding the kill, or poaching gorillas for nothing other than their prized feet and hands. It is killing a goose for it's delicious liver and then throwing away the rest of the carcass.
Animal cruelty is forcing a large animal to live in a small cage, feeding it hormones so that it's meat becomes so swollen that it's own legs break under the weight, and then killing the animal on an assembly line so it can be sent off to KFC. Check out the documentary Food, Inc if you don't believe this happens.