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Whole Foods Market is selling rabbit meat


Whole Foods is Now Selling Rabbit Meat

In the summer of 2014, Whole Foods decided to start selling rabbit meat citing a demand. They are selling the meat of juvenile New Zealand rabbits, exactly the same type of rabbits as many of our friends here at SaveABunny, like Harry (pictured), Rama, Lacey and Lemondrop, and Ping and Pong. Whole Foods is selling rabbit meat in 5 regions.

SaveABunny, along with the House Rabbit Society and rabbit advocates from all over the country have teamed up to form the Rabbit Advocacy Network to stay on top of the situation and to organize ourselves to advocate effectively for rabbits. Please join us!

Can I help if I own a business or non-profit?

Yes! In addition to doing the below actions as individuals, we encourage business owners and non-profits to sign on to our letter to whole foods to stop rabbit meat.

Which Stores Should I Contact?

We have contacted Northern California Whole Foods stores inquiring about rabbit meat. All of them have started selling rabbit meat. See the table of Northern California Whole Foods Contact Information below.

For those concerned with Whole Foods outside of Northern California, we advise you to call your local store and inquire, and also to tell them your thoughts about the issue regardless of whether or not your store is in a region that is currently selling.

Talking Points

When you contact Whole Foods, let them know that you were a Whole Foods customer. This is more effective than identifying yourself as an activist or a rescuer (even if that’s what you are, which is awesome!)

  • This is upsetting to me and I won’t shop at Whole Foods any longer. Whole Foods shoppers have plenty of options already. Seeing rabbit meat at Whole Foods is traumatizing to me as a (rabbit guardian, bunny supporter, bunny friend). (Feel free to say a few words about your rabbit family member or rabbit friends. If this is written, feel free to include a photo or a drawing.)
  • The rabbit meat you are selling is a pet bunny breed.
  • "Organic", "sustainable" and "humane" are NOT cruelty-free. These rabbits are taken from their families and killed when they reach “market weight.” They are babies or adolescents at most.

What Can You Do To Help?

The following activities are for individuals. If you are part of a business or organization and your business could be a signatory on our letter to Whole Foods, please let us know!

Online: Sign and Share the Petition

This only takes a few seconds! The petition is here:

Online: Tweet

If you have a twitter account, you can tweet @WholeFoodsNorCA @WholeFoods and @WholeFoodsPR.

Online: Post on Facebook

Please post on the facebook page of Whole Foods Mill Valley (this one is local to SaveABunny) as well as your local Whole Foods facebook page (See the table of Northern California Whole Foods Contact Information below.)

On the left column of the Whole Foods facebook pages, there is a section called "Reviews. At the bottom of this section, click on the button titled "Write Review" and write a 1-star review of the store, explaining that it is wrong for Whole Foods to sell rabbits. Feel free to include an image of a rabbit you know. See the image at right; click on the image to see a large one.

Online: Join the Rabbit Advocacy Network on Facebook

Please join the Rabbit Advocacy Network on Facebook. We'll use this to organize events and campaigns to advocate for rabbits.

Online: Email Whole Foods

Email the following:

If possible, include a photo of your rabbit or a rabbit friend of yours or a SaveABunny rabbit like Harry (pictured)

Phone: Call Whole Foods

Contacts to call:

  • (510) 428-7400 - Dan Neuerburg, Meat Coordinator at the Emeryville Regional Office. To get to Dan Neuerburg, you need to type his last name and first name into your phone; Neuerburg=638372874 Dan=326
  • (510) 428-7448 - Jim Olson, Lead Buyer

Example: I have learned that you are selling rabbit meat and I’m really upset about this. I adopted a rabbit from the Marin Humane Society and I have two rabbits in my family. I know you claim that these rabbits are “humanely raised,” but these meat rabbits are the same kind of rabbits that live in my home, and I am very upset that Whole Foods is killing them for food.

In person: Fill out a comment card in the store

Whole Foods stores has comment cards around their stores, or you can ask for them. See right for an example of a blank comment card, as well as one that is filled in.

In person: Talk to Team Leader or meat counter person at Whole Foods

Talking directly to Whole Foods employees can also make an impact. You can visit your local store's meat counter and talk directly with the people who are selling rabbit meat. Education appears to be a key element: some rabbit supporters have called or visited stores to express their outrage regarding the sale of rabbit meat, and the clerks are often not aware that rabbits are the 3rd most popular companion animal in the US, and they are essentially selling us pet meat. The more people we can teach that rabbits are friends, not food, the better!

In person: Outreach to the public by posting fliers

Click on the following flier image to download a printable PDF. You could post these at nearby businesses that are willing to have them displayed in the store. Additionally, you could hand them to customers entering Whole Foods.

In person: Outreach to other customers by tabling

Some rabbit supporters are tabling outside of Whole Foods to raise awareness of this issue. Bring friends and information about rabbit companions.

Lisa R. has done this already, and writes about her experience:
I had a very successful 3 hours outside of the WF store that I frequent 4 times a week for my job. I am well known at this store so I was a bit nervous with the idea of creating waves. To feel more confident, I brought a friend with me and had some handouts ready to go, including a printed version of the petition.

I got lots of signatures even some from the employees! I brought 3 bunnies. I introduced people to my bunnies and asked them if they wanted to pet them, then I explained why I was out there. I also made a couple posters with photos of my bunnies on my bed, the couch, lying next to a cat or dog etc. so people could see that they live just like cats and dogs! I brought a small table with 2 posters/signs, my flier handouts (which very few people took) and some clipboards with my petition.

I think the key to a successful outreach/petitioning is to remain positive, realistic (not everyone is compassionate to bunnies) and focus on the pet aspect and people will make the connection! If you would rather not have people sign a petition you could suggest that they fill out a comment card or speak with staff. Remember if you bring your buns to keep them cool and safe and hold them properly.

Lisa and Natasha will be doing outreach again at the Campbell Whole Foods on Sunday June 29th from 10am to 2pm. Email Lisa to join!

In person: Participate in our in-person demos

We have presented Whole Foods with an official letter from organizations and businesses that disagree with Whole Foods decision to sell rabbit meat. On August 17th, we joined with rabbit lovers nation-wide to voice protest against the Whole Foods rabbit meat program and to show people how wonderful rabbits are. Check out the photos below and join us at the Rabbit Advocacy Network on Facebook! There you can participate in the demonstations and make a big difference for the lives of millions of rabbits.

Frequently Asked Questions and their Answers

Doesn’t Whole Foods raise rabbits in a humane, organic, and sustainable way?

Humane, organic, and sustainable is not the same thing as cruelty free. The quality of the rabbits’ diets and the fact they aren’t given hormones or antibiotics does not mean the rabbits are stress-free or happy. The rabbits sold at Whole Foods are babies, weighing only 2.5 to 3 pounds, taken from their families. Rabbits are social so their forced removal from their families is a traumatizing and stressful event. Broken social bonds and slaughter at a young age is not a natural bunny life.

Aren’t the rabbits sold at Whole Foods wild rabbits?

No. The rabbits Whole Foods sells as meat are a domesticated breed of rabbits, not wild rabbits. Wild rabbits and domesticated rabbits are so different that they cannot interbreed. The rabbits Whole Foods sells as meat are “New Zealand” rabbits – a specific breed of rabbit just like a German Shepard is a specific breed of dog. New Zealand rabbits are popular as pets in the United States because of their intelligence and sweet disposition – they are considered the Golden Retriever of the rabbit world.

Aren’t the rabbits sold at Whole Foods bred to be eaten?

The fact that Whole Foods has decided to sell domesticated rabbits as meat doesn’t change the nature of the rabbit. New Zealand rabbits are domestic rabbits that can live 10 or more years. They are docile and social. There is no difference between a “meat” rabbit and a pet rabbit; one just happened to be unlucky enough to be born on a meat farm. The decision to kill some animals for meat and not others is an arbitrary one for which there is not a good answer.

Are you advocating a vegetarian or vegan diet?

SaveABunny’s official mission is to save companion rabbits from abuse, neglect, abandonment, euthanasia, and slaughter and to educate the public about the rewarding experience of living with a rabbit as an indoor companion. SaveABunny opposes the use of rabbits for fur or meat.

SaveABunny also opposes animal cruelty, abuse and exploitation of any kind for any animal. We do not require our members and supporters to be vegetarian or vegan; all are welcome. The organization supports a plant-based, cruelty-free lifestyle and encourages people to open their hearts to all animals.

Isn’t Whole Foods just responding to customer demand?

No. Rabbit meat is not routinely consumed in the United States even though rabbits, horses, cats, and dogs are consumed in other parts of the world. Rabbits are the third most popular household pet in the United States. While there may be a marginal demand for rabbit meat there is a far greater demand for rabbits as pets and companions.

So what if Whole Foods sells rabbit, it’s just one chain?

Whole Foods is a very successful grocery store chain. Selling rabbit in Northern California stores is a pilot program that Whole Foods intends to expand into other regions. It is likely that other grocery stores will seek to copy the Whole Foods model and sell rabbit. These other stores will likely seek out less expensive sources with even lower standards.

Northern California Whole Foods Contact Information

Store Store Address Phone Sells Rabbit Meat Facebook Store Manager Email (all of these are Comments
Berkeley 3000 Telegraph Ave Berkeley, CA 94705 510.649.1333 Yes Melody.Mestemacher "We have, like, the whole entire rabbit."
Campbell 1690 South Bascom Ave Campbell, CA 95008 408.371.5000 Yes Mark.Barbieri Laughter. Lots of infuriating laughter.
Capitola 1710 41st Ave Capitola, CA 95010 931.464.2900 Yes Mike.McCallum "I don't have a good answer for you." "There is a demand for it." "Whole Foods used to have live lobsters in all its stores but we stopped doing that except in our Maine stores."
Cupertino 20955 Stevens Creek Blvd Cupertino, CA 95014 408.257.7000 Yes Scott.Sherman "They [rabbits] are about 2-3 pounds. They're really small."
Davis 500 First Street Davis, CA 95616 530.750.2266 Yes
Folsom 270 Palladio Parkway Folsom, CA 95630 916.984.8500 Yes Steven.Smith
Fremont 3111 Mowry Ave Fremont, CA 94538 510.401.5880 Yes Pedro.Fonseca
Fresno 650 W. Shaw Ave Fresno, CA 93704 559.241.0300 Yes
Lafayette 3502 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA 94549 925.284.5305 Yes Gary.Ramirez "We have the whole rabbit. It's shrink-wrapped and all ready to go."
Los Altos 4800 El Camino Real Los Altos, CA 94022 650.559.0300 Yes Eric.Story
Los Gatos 15980 Los Gatos Blvd Los Gatos, CA 95032 408.358.4434 Yes Deborah.Fernandez "They're [rabbits] about two pounds, three quarters."
Mill Valley 414 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
415.381.1200 Yes Chris.Ross "It [rabbit meat] is humane and sustainable."
Mill Valley - Blithedale 731 East Blithedale Mill Valley, CA 94941 415.381.3900 Yes Dori.Beron
Monterey 800 Del Monte Center Monterey, CA 93940 831.333.1600 Yes Kelli.Takikawa
Napa 3682 Bel Aire Plaza Napa, CA 94558 707.224.6300 Yes Shawn.Marshall "Yeah, we have one left."
Novato 790 De Long Avenue
Novato, CA 94945-7005
415.878.0455 Yes Martha.Harmon "We don't sell rabbit meat. We have the whole young rabbit."
Oakland 230 Bay Place Oakland, CA 94612 510.834.9800 Yes Earl.Brizee "Rabbit meat? We have whole rabbits."
Palo Alto 774 Emerson Street Palo Alto, CA 94301 650.326.8676 Yes Mike.Folan "Yeah, it's the whole rabbit with the head."
Petaluma 621 E. Washington St Petaluma, CA 94952 707.762.9352 Yes
Redwood City 1250 Jefferson Ave Redwood City, CA 94062 650.367.1400 Yes Jason.Alarid "It's a whole rabbit though."
Roseville 1001 Galleria Blvd Roseville, CA 95678 916.781.5300 Yes Marty.Jenkins
Sacramento 4315 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA 95864 916.488.2800 Yes Steve.Papegaay
San Francisco - Franklin 1765 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109 415.674.0500 Yes Anie.Summerland "As long as we can get it." Meat Department Team Leader
San Francisco - Haight 690 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.876.6740 Yes Jen.Monaco "We'll see how it does."
San Francisco - Market 2001 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.626.1430 Yes Paula.Richmond
San Francisco - Noe Valley 3950 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
415.282.4700 Yes "Only the whole rabbit . . . I'm not sure how the cuts on that work."
San Francisco - Ocean 1150 Ocean Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
415.333.7400 Yes Omar.Ruiz "We have one left."
San Francisco - Potrero Hill 450 Rhode Island St
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.552.1155 Yes Jeremiah.Newman "Plenty. $10.99 a pound."
San Francisco - SoMa 399 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.618.0066 Yes "Yeah, the whole rabbit."
San Jose - Blossom Hill 1146 Blossom Hill Rd San Jose, CA 95118 408.266.3700 Yes Brett.Kassell
San Mateo 1010 Park Place San Mateo, CA 94403 650.358.6900 Yes Anthony.Celio "We're required by regional standards to sell it."
San Rafael 340 Third St San Rafael, CA 94901 415.451.6333 Yes Clarke.Pomeroy
San Ramon 100 Sunset Drive San Ramon, CA 94583 925.355.9000 Yes Allen.Culp "In the past there wasn't a farm that met our standards."
Santa Cruz 911 Soquel Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062 831.426.9901 Yes Seth.Wyland
Santa Rosa 1181 Yulupa Ave Santa Rosa, CA 95405 707.575.7915 Yes Chris.Farrar
Santa Rosa - Coddingtown 390 Coddingtown Mall Santa Rosa, CA 95401 707.542.7411 Yes Wes.Walston "I used to have a rabbit so when I saw that it was weird because, like, that's a pet." JC (Whole Foods Meat Department)
Sebastopol 6910 McKinley St Sebastopol, CA 95472 707.829.9801 Yes "It's $10.99 a pound."
Sonoma Sonoma Marketplace 201 W. Napa St. Sonoma, CA 95476 707.938.8500 Yes "I own two rabbits. So I understand. That's not something we would ever put out on our shelves." Joe (Whole Foods Butcher)
Walnut Creek 1333 Newell Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
925.274.9700 Yes Arnoldo.Elisea