Switching Out The Beef For Rabbit: Can Rodents Provide A Sustainable Meat Alternative?
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), commercial livestock production generates 14.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial animal agriculture is also associated with issues including poor animal welfare, deforestation, and resource pollution. But chefs and farmers are considering promising alternatives, such as rabbits. Other small rodents such as cane rats, squirrels, and guinea pigs may serve similar roles. In France, rabbit is a mainstay on restaurant menus, while in Benin, rodents including porcupines and squirrels provide a source of food security. There is evidence that some of these animals may provide more sustainable protein options. A recent study from the IOP Conference Series journal on Earth and Environmental Science finds that rabbits emit less greenhouse gasses than other livestock. Hunting invasive or overpopulated species may also offer environmental and financial benefits. Dr. Heather Eves, a professor of wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech, tells Food Tank that many African farmers hunt the cane rats in their fields.