Sun, May 27, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Bunny lovers put off by COA's rabbit recipes

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lwo Shih-hsiung, right, holds up a bag containing a rabbit at a press conference yesterday to criticize the Council of Agriculture's initiative promoting rabbit meat as an addition to the nation's diet.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

A group of rabbit lovers, distressed by a Council of Agriculture (COA) initiative to promote rabbit meat as a healthy and delicious addition to the nation's diet, yesterday appealed to the agency not to put Thumper on the menu.

The rabbit owners, including members of Rabbit SOS, Taiwan's first rabbit rescue organization, made the call at a press conference held by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lwo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄).

Lwo said he decided to take up the cause of the fluffy creatures after receiving a petition from a concerned rabbit owner.

"I have no rabbits myself. But they are my daughter's favorite animals," he said. "They are our friends, not something we take from the fridge to the oven."

Lwo said he will fight to amend the Protection Act (動物保護法) to include rabbits as a pet that cannot be eaten, just like a cat or a dog. Laboratory testing will not be affected, he added.

Representatives of the COA were low-key at the press conference about their efforts to encourage the consumption of rabbit meat.

Lee Shan-nan (李善男), deputy director of the COA's Taiwan livestock research institute (TLRI) was asked by reporters whether the COA really released recipes featuring rabbit in order to encourage consumption.

"No, not recipes as such," Lee said. "What we've provided is some technical guidance as to the edible applications of rabbits."

At a institute conference on May 3, however, TLRI director Wang Cheng-taung (王政騰) was singing the praises of rabbit as a food.

Wang described rabbit meat as low in fat and cholesterol yet high in protein.

Wang recommended those who are trying to lose weight to eat more rabbit, and even suggested that it might have impotence-fighting properties according to the theories of Chinese medicine. Edible applications highlighted at the event included curried rabbit, fried rabbit, rabbit braised in sesame oil and cold rabbit salad.

Jeffery Chow (趙志豪) of Rabbit SOS found it hard to accept the concept that one man's Fluffy might be another man's feast.

"It's not easy when I pass rabbit stew stalls at night markets," said Chow. "But I also notice they don't have much business."

Rabbits are not a common food in Taiwan, said Chow, while they are popular as pets because they are quiet, clean and affectionate.

"It's wrong for the council to encourage people to eat rabbits when, for so many of us, rabbits are members of the family just like cats and dogs are for others," he said.

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