Rabbit meat in need of a hat-trick: from tradition to innovation (and back)
Abstract Consumption of rabbit meat traces back to the ancient civilizations that prospered around the Mediterranean. Due to their small size, rabbits have mostly been included in traditional meals for direct consumption, with little historical urgency to develop preservation methods. Therefore, rabbit-based dishes are widespread throughout Europe, but few processed products are found. Despite its longstanding culinary value, an overall decline in the consumption of rabbit meat is discernible. As for all meat, this is related to a complex assemblage of contemporary anxieties about health, animal welfare, and the environment. Also, specific categorial dynamics are at play because rabbits have superimposed roles (e.g., livestock, game, vermin, and pets). For instance, their aspect of cuteness seems to interfere with their acceptability as a food. To counter the declining consumption of this valuable meat, reassuring discourses are required to point out its historical merit in health and culture (“story meat”). Also, its distinctive sensorial traits, nutritional profile, and technological properties should be valorized.