Rabbits and Easter

2 years ago my partner and I were driving home when we spotted a small white rabbit on the side of the road. It was a rural area with no houses in sight. It was late at night and it was 2 weeks after Easter. We pulled over and got out of the car thinking we would scare her into the woods away from the road. Once we saw that she was entirely white and clean and not afraid of us in the slightest, we realized that she was a domestic rabbit and likely dumped just moments before we spotted her. Having absolutely no experience with rabbits, but knowing that she would die within a few days if left on her own, we scooped her up in a big sweater and large shopping bag and took her home. What followed was the first of many frantic Google searches on rabbit care.

Renovation day. Binks enjoys new flooring.

Renovation day. Binks enjoys new flooring.

We initially thought that we would give her over to our local SPCA to be adopted, but once we learned how careless people tend to be with rabbits we couldn’t stand the thought of her living less of a life than what we could offer. We desperately hoped that our cats would accept her. They did within just a few days.

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What started as this…

Let Me Out!!

…Ended like this

Since adopting her we’ve learned that rabbits are routinely bred and sold for Easter and then a whopping 80 percent are abandoned within just a few months. And like in the case of Binks, the irresponsibilty is so extensive that people will dump them at the side of the road to die within a few days by cars or predators rather than own up to their abandonment at a shelter. The Easter rabbit problem is so widespread that rabbit rescue groups actually have campaigns along the lines of “buy chocolate rabbits instead.”

Binks reads Animal Liberation and encourages you to do the same.

Binks reads Animal Liberation and encourages you to do the same.

Rabbits require a lot of care. Their homes need to be cleaned everyday. They need fresh vegetables and hay everyday. And perhaps most importantly, they need to spend a minimum of 2-4 hours roaming freely everyday. Ideally, they can always roam freely and choose to go back to their digs when they see fit. They like to chew and dig, so bunny-proofing your house is a must, and even with some Binks-safing measures, we still find many items mysteriously chewed and need to fix or replace just about all of our baseboards. House rabbits live for 8-15 years and we spend much more time caring for Binks than we do our two cats.

Still, she’s an absolute joy. Her sensitivity and delicacy are heartwarming, and her spunk and demanding nature make us laugh everyday. It’s wonderful how much life she’s brought to our home, and devastating to think what would have happened if we hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.

Binks helps do laundry.

Binks helps do laundry.

Do not buy rabbits as pets. Learn everything involved in proper rabbit care and adopt from your local shelter.

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Plant Rights? Or Another Sorry Excuse to Eat Animals?

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear another carnist bring up some version of “plant rights” in an attempt to justify consuming animals – and that’s the key point here, in an attempt to justify consuming animals.

People generally have no problem letting house plants die, stepping on grass and flowers, using chemicals on their lawns, letting fruits and vegetables rot in the fridge, cutting down a tree to make a wider driveway, growing a vegetable garden and apple picking – but mention that you’re vegan or advocate for animal rights and all of a sudden these acts are made equivalent to slitting an animal’s throat.

To be clear, I do believe that we drastically underestimate the complexity and interconnectedness of all life on earth. The world would be a much better place if we afforded plants even a fraction of the sensitivity and concern that we’re capable of affording human beings. But this is a far cry from equating them with animals so that one can feel better about eating pig flesh instead of lentils.

Simply put, while plants respond to stimuli, they lack subjective awareness, a nervous system, and pain receptors. It is imperative that we love and respect all life, but that doesn’t mean that there are not fundamentally different life forms that warrant different treatment. There is a reason why we don’t avoid stepping on grass but do avoid stepping on a dog’s tail. There is a reason why we take children to pick apples and not to slaughterhouses.

It is also worth noting that besides the sentience/subjectivity/pain part of the distinction, anyone who is genuinely concerned with protecting all life forms from death, as though they are equal, ought to be moved by the fact that it takes up to 15 pounds of plants to produce just 1 pound of meat. Consuming animal flesh and animal secretions requires far greater amounts of plants to be killed than if we eat the plants directly. In short, someone eating an omnivorous diet is responsible for far more death of every kind of life form than someone who consumes plants directly.

If anyone in your life is still not convinced that there is a fundamental difference between plants and animals, that the fact that plants are complex life forms does not justify killing animals, then propose the following to them: “I’ll make you a deal – you watch a series of ‘humane’ slaughter videos and I’ll watch a strawberry harvest.” Checkmate.