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On Rabbits for Eating and Other Things

TW: animal death. Also, I want to preface this by saying I love animals, I really do. I've raised lots and always made sure they had good lives as best I could. I respect them. I also eat them. I'm aware of what I eat and where it comes from, and I have been for a long time.

On a scale of one to ten how weird is it that I learned how one break a rabbit's neck to harvest it for meat in the fourth grade? I mean, I never thought that was all that weird. I don't live in an especially small town, or a super rural place (though ag is a dominant industry), and this is something that was introduced to me young in elementary school 4H.

I don't regret that at all. Like, at all... and I didn't even raise meat rabbits! I was all about show bunnies, which are definitely the most superfluous of 4-H activities. (For all my rabbit geeks out there: I had Netherland Dwarves, one Polish, one Dutch, and a couple Mini Lops).


When I was in high school I took a lot of biology and anatomy classes—managed to skip chemistry entirely!—and over a period of 2.5 years I dissected: a frog, a rat, a sheep heart, a sheep brain, sheep eyeballs (many), a cat (gassed by the humane society), a fetal pig, another rat, more eyeballs... I even attended the medical dissection of a person who very kindly donated their body to science at UCSF. She was an older woman. I also had an internship at a local hospital working in the sterile processing lab, which happened to be very close to the morgue.

It was a lot of death to see and a lot of animal death. I'll be honest, the cats were pretty bad (there was a lot of dark humor to cope with their... expressions) but the eyeballs were the hardest for me. Something about how they sat in buckets at the end of our lab tables over the course of a couple weeks. I got over it though, and it wasn't long before some guy harassing me after class—who was not in my class—had an eyeball thrown at him. I bet he still remembers that.

I just got kind of numb to it. For tests we had dissected rats and frogs and brains and, yes, more eyeballs laid out on lab tables and we had to label all the anatomy. If you didn't adapt you wouldn't make it. When I think of it I remember the smell of Vick's VaporRub, which I used to put directly under my nose to mask the smell of the preservatives.

Which is all to say... is it really that shocking that some 10th graders in Idaho saw a meat rabbit killed and skinned? Yes, it's violent, and visceral, and a little gross. It's death. That is how death is for a lot of animals (including sometimes people). But it's also how most people eat and as far as deaths go I know for a fact that a well-timed neck snap for a rabbit is about as fast and as easy as it gets.


For the record, I'm genuinely asking. I know my experience isn't universal.

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