Unless you’re a vegetarian, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider eating rabbit instead of chicken, beef, ham, or turkey. The United States, however, still has the Easter Bunny syndrome! Europeans, especially the French, Italians, Spanish, and Germans eat a lot of rabbit meat. If we can ever get over our prejudices here in the US., eating rabbit makes a lot of sense.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that RABBIT IS THE MOST NUTRITIOUS MEAT KNOWN TO MAN.
Here are the nutritional facts taken from USDA circular #549. Pound-for-pound, rabbit meat has FAR MORE PROTEIN and LESS FAT than other meats. If you do consider eating rabbit meat, you’ll not only be spending less for food, but you’ll have the extra health benefit too!
PROTEIN: Rabbit has the highest percent protein of all meats. Protein is needed in the diet for healthy cellular processes and functions. The body needs protein for tissue development, repair and maintenance. For overall health and proper functioning, the human body must have protein.
FATS: Rabbit has the lowest percent fat with 4.5%. Most meats are high in fats. Unfortunately they are high in the most undesirable fat which are the saturated fats. If you break down the fat into its components of saturated and unsaturated, 63% of rabbit’s 4.5% fat is unsaturated, the “Good” Fat. This information can be found in 4-H publication 4-H-1510.
CALORIES: Rabbit meat has 795 calories per pound of meat compared to chicken at 810, veal at 840, turkey at 1190, lamb at 1420, beef at 1440 and pork at 2050. The lower the calories of a food, the greater impact it has on a positive diet. Amazingly rabbit meat is less than half the calories of pork, and about one half the calories of lamb and beef.
CHOLESTEROL: The wrong types of cholesterol leads to many types of heart problems. Red meat and pork are equally high and are often discouraged in low cholesterol diets. Those who want to continue to eat some form of meat should consider rabbit which is lower in cholesterol than chicken. Above is a chart on this nutritional aspect of rabbit meat from a study by Alabama A&M University 1989.
Farm-raised rabbit meat is an all white meat and mild in flavor, without having the “gamy” flavor often associated with other animals such as water fowl or deer. It is almost cholesterol free and low in sodium and therefore very heart patient friendly. The calcium and phosphorus contents of this meat are more than any other meat. Phosphorus, along with calcium, helps in bone health and also helps to regulate fluids.
Rabbit meat also has other vitamins and minerals in it, which are needed by the body in small amounts. These include iron, copper and zinc. Iron is important in the production of red blood cells and the distribution and absorption of oxygen throughout the body. Copper is necessary for cellular growth and development and is taken in through diet since the body cannot produce this mineral. Zinc is important to boost the immune system and calcium absorption.
Rabbit meat also contains selenium and potassium. Selenium works as an antioxidant to remove free radicals before they can do damage to your body. Some types of cancer, as well as the ravages of aging, can be battled with selenium. Selenium is also very important in maintaining good thyroid functioning and supporting a healthy immune system. Potassium helps with fluid regulation and helps remove salts from the body.
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is another nutrient found in rabbit meat which is important to keep the digestive track healthy. It is also important in breaking down protein and fats. Another nutrient, Vitamin B12 is necessary in the proper function of the nervous system. It is also needed in the production of protein and red blood cells. Rabbit meat has also been recommended for special diets such as for heart disease patients, diets for the elderly whose metabolism has slowed and digestion is compromised. Low sodium diets, and weight reduction diets, because the meat is easily digested, has been recommended by doctors for patients who have trouble eating other meats.
So in conclusion, rabbit meat compared to all other meats, wins hands down.
To summarize here are the benefits of rabbit meat:
- low in cholesterol
- low in calories
- low in saturated fats
- high in protein
- low in sodium
- all white meat
Note: We are not doctors and you should check with your physician before consuming rabbit meat.
Here’s a few hints and tricks about cooking and eating rabbit meat.
Rabbit meat can easily be used in most recipes that call for chicken, turkey and veal. For safety reasons, be sure to always cook rabbit until it reaches 160 degrees F.
- A rabbit weighing 5lbs. should provide between 2.5 – 3.5 lbs. of meat and make approx. 6 portions: 2 saddles, 2 thighs and 2 front legs.
- Rabbit meat freezes very well, cooked or raw.
- Rabbit meat can be grilled, roasted, braised, fried or barbecued.
- It takes between 60-90 minutes to cook rabbit meat at 325F (160C).
- As rabbit is a lean and all white meat, it is important to baste it often when roasting to prevent it from drying out.
- Excellent rabbit seasonings may include parsley, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, lemon-grass, coriander, and basil.
- Rabbit meat may be soaked in a marinade of sugar or honey, red wine, or olive oil seasoned with herbs.
- When roasting whole, use butter or lard with pork back fat. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep the meat moist and tender. You can bone the main body and fill with a stuffing. Be sure to baste the rabbit frequently during cooking.
- Before cooking, marinate the meat in wine or olive oil, with aromatic vegetables and seasonings. This helps tenderize the meat.
- You should poach or braise young rabbits and stew or casserole the older ones.
- To roast a rabbit, rub it down with olive oil and chopped herbs and place it in a roasting pan. It may then be baked just like a chicken, at about 350 degrees F. (A two pound rabbit takes about 1 – 1 1/2 hours to cook at this temperature.)
- For braising rabbit, begin by browning the rabbit in a little olive oil. Then place the meat in a pot and cover it about a quarter of the way with water. Then cover the pot and allow the meat to simmer for about an hour.
- For stewing rabbit, chop the rabbit meat into small pieces (about one inch square). If desired, roll in flour or seasonings. In a preheated pan with a little olive oil added, brown the meat on every side. Place the meat in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Cover the pan with a well-fitted lid and simmer for at least two hours, or until meat is tender. Add vegetables to the last hour of cooking.
- For sauteing rabbit, make thin cuts of the meat (no more than one inch thick). First, preheat a pan and add a small amount of olive oil. Place the rabbit in the pan and brown both sides, cooking until it reaches 160 degrees F.
Good Luck and Happy Eating!
PLEASE NOTE: In order for us to provide healthy and disease free New Zealand White rabbits, we maintain a CLOSED RABBITRY. Potential buyers will, however, be able to view enough of the building’s interior to observe the rabbits and the conditions they live under. We’re sorry, but no outside rabbits, dogs or cats may be brought onto the property. Thank you for understanding.
THANK YOU for visiting the Crossroads Rabbitry web site; home of Quality New Zealand White Rabbits.