Protests, petition to get rabbit off the menu

Camden couple rallies in defense of rabbits

By Jenna Lookner | Jan 21, 2013
Photo by: File photo Bernard the bunny was up for adoption in February 2011.

Camden — A Camden couple wants local restaurants to stop serving rabbit and they're taking steps to make their dislike of rabbit-on-the-menu known.

Jan. 19, Wendy and Ray Andresen spent about two hours between noon and 2 p.m. outside Long Grain on Elm Street in Camden holding picket signs discouraging diners from eating at the popular Asian restaurant because rabbit sometimes appears on the menu there, said Long Grain employee Alicia Richardson.

Richardson said she received a call that Wendy and Ray Andresen and their friend Merrill Tucker of Camden, were outside Long Grain protesting. In response, Richardson and her friend Caroline Wilmot responded by making their own sign that read "we support local agriculture."

Richardson said Long Grain does not regularly serve rabbit and it only appears on the menu as a specialty item periodically. On Saturday night at the conclusion of dinner service, the Facebook page for Long Grain announced the restaurant had sold out of rabbit curry that day.

Wendy Andresen said Long Grain "used to be one of [our] favorite restaurants" before they began serving rabbit as a special. She said that special first came to her attention in December and it catalyzed her pursuit of a campaign against serving meat from the animals.

She has in the past posted fliers on local bulletin boards around Easter encouraging humane treatment of rabbits. She added she is a vegetarian and said the protests she spearheads are "totally peaceful," with no gory photos on her picket signs.

On Jan. 17, Camden Police officers visited the Andresens' home to issue a written warning for harassment and trespassing which Andresen said stemmed from two visits she made to Long Grain to strongly encourage owner Paula Palakawong to remove rabbit from the specials menu for good. Andresen said she spoke with Camden Police prior to protesting on Jan. 19.

Long Grain is not the only local dining establishment the Andresens are concerned about. Other restaurants that serve rabbit including Natalie's and Fromviandoux, both located in Camden, have been part of the Andresen's campaign against serving rabbit meat. Wendy Andresen said Jan. 21 she also intends to speak with staff at Francine Bistro and a number of restaurants in Rockland.

She said conversations with Natalie's co-owner Oscar Verest and a chef at Fromviandoux were both "very cordial."

Wendy Andresen said she and other protesters do not intend to negatively impact local businesses with their effort.

"We are completely in support of local restaurants, we mean them no ill will," Wendy Andresen said.

Earlier in January some local restaurateurs expressed concern about poor reviews of their restaurants, based on menus that include rabbit, had been posted to travel websites including tripadvisor and Yelp.

The reviews have since been removed, according to Brian Hill of Francine Bistro.

Andresen said she has written online reviews in the past regarding her concern about rabbit on restaurants' menus. She was unable to confirm recent reviews were written by her without seeing them, she said.

Wendy Andresen said she has a pet rabbit who runs free in her home. She said he is clicker trained and does tricks, he hangs out with her dog and expresses affection much the same way a dog would, she added.

"[The rabbit] is the light of my life," she said.

She explained that four million American households presently have pet rabbits and that they are the third most popular household pet after dogs and cats.

"We want them to have the same opportunities for love and affection as dogs and cats, they are capable of forming deep, affectionate bonds," said Andresen.

The Andresens currently have a petition circulating to encourage restaurants to stop serving rabbit.

She said her petition to stop the use of rabbits for food has received signatures both online and in person. The online petition had received 119 signatures on Jan. 21, but Andresen said she has received more than 200 total signatures. See the online petition here.

A signature and statement from Maine State Director for The Humane Society Of The United States Katie Hansberry on the online petition strongly encourages the exclusion of rabbit meat from the table, and states that rabbits suffer "the worst slaughter abuses."

Melanie Leo-Daigle is the manager at Fresh Off the Farm in Rockport. She said Wendy Andresen stopped by the natural food store during the week of Jan. 15 asking employees to sign her petition. While Leo-Daigle said she did not have a personal interaction with Andresen, she heard from her employees that Andresen had politely asked for signatures, explaining her position that rabbit should not be served in local restaurants. None of the employees at Fresh Off the Farm signed the petition, said Leo-Daigle.

"Our store remains politically neutral, we've learned over the years that no matter how we view things personally Fresh Off the Farm remains a neutral ground," she said.

Leo-Daigle added that Fresh Off the Farm does sell rabbit and can special order the meat for customers on request.

"We definitely advocate for them to be local and humanely raised, but what people choose to eat is their choice. It wouldn't be right for us to sign [the petition] and then sell [rabbit]," she said.

Andresen said she doesn't want to cause trouble.

"The whole things makes me incredibly uncomfortable," she said of picketing and petitioning. "I am willing to suffer through the discomfort because it's something I really believe in."

While Andresen said she is not focused on other meat animals, she added the meat industry creates pollution equal to that generated by the transportation industry.

"Meat is an optional part of your diet, that's kind of an aside, it's not my focus. I want rabbit off the menu and off the specials," she said.

Andresen called the consumption of rabbit meat "unethical" and said that her response to contentions that stopping the service of rabbit in local restaurants would hurt local farmers is all about ethics.

"Sometimes it requires a change of your lifestyle to live ethically, the only difference between a meat rabbit and a pet rabbit is opportunity," she said.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at jlookner@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (36)
Posted by: Linda L Post | Jan 26, 2013 07:02

In order to eat rabbit or any other animal you have to stop a beating heart. Thanks for just spewing more rhetoric instead of answering the question about killing babies.  Not vilifying anyone just asking a question. Your postings seem to indicate you think anyone that eats meat is ignorant and would see the "light" if they only read your recommendations. Wonder how the Eskimos could have survived without eating meat or is this just progressive thinking for today's world. I don't like the idea of eating lambs but don't attack those that do



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 25, 2013 22:05

Hi IVS, vegans & Co

P-L-E-A-S-E Me believing stuff published online . . . .

There may be a lot of hearsay going around but you can corroborate facts by talking with the Camden Police Department. About Paula playing the victim and then crying to the police; all I can say is that your friends are lucky this is Maine and not Texas.

 



Posted by: Ben Ellison | Jan 25, 2013 20:01

Long Grain is serving lightly curried rabbit tonight, and it's delicious. And if you ask, you may find out that the wondrous wait staff can do a synchronized bunny hop. Good times!



Posted by: Ingrid Van Steenberg | Jan 25, 2013 19:38

Just wondering, Glen, David, et al., if you believe everything you read online verbatim.  It would be interesting to know what really happened, but I doubt that there's enough in this article for anyone to figure it out.  I do know that it's really easy to play the victim and point the finger and go crying to the police even when there's no legitimate cause.  I have met Ray Andresen briefly, and I have a hard time imaginging him as menacing.  I suppose though, if they were wearing bunny suits at the time....

And no, Linda, humans are not more important than animals.  They are just another kind of animal.  But how in the world do you tie abortions to eating rabbits?  Isn't this just another way to villify people you simply don't agree with?

 



Posted by: Linda L Post | Jan 25, 2013 14:15

Just wondering how "vegans" in general feel about taking the life of an unborn human? Are they all pro life and if not  that seems to me very hypocritical.  Humans are more important than animals



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 25, 2013 12:37

Ann,

You seem to post that your superior by "attacking" people who CHOOSE to eat meat.  JUST SAYIN'



Posted by: glen r thompson | Jan 25, 2013 07:42

My- my, Miss Flagg -  "we (vegans do not thing (sic.) we are superior"  and then you proceed to do exactly that.  All I can say is "my-my".



Posted by: Ed Allen | Jan 24, 2013 21:28

if you dont want to eat rabbits go somewhere that dont serve them.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 24, 2013 08:45

Hi vegans,

You may not think yourself superior to other animals but you certainly feel superior the the rest of us human beings. Stating that your philosophy is better than others is soooo arrogant.

 



Posted by: Ann M. Flagg | Jan 24, 2013 08:29

Glen, vegans never defend the taking of animals lives for food, legitimate business or not. You may be a proponent of a plant based diet, but you are not a vegan, not by any stretch or manipulation of the word. I am a member of several vegan groups, I am more than happy to have you join, if for nothing more than to let you hear the reason behind our philosophy. Oh and just to clarify, we (vegans) do not thing we are superior, that is why we don't take the lives of animals for food, it's people that do that practice species-ism,  I would suggest you all watch Earthlings but like most flesh eaters, you prefer to remain disconnected to not interfere with your wants, certainly not needs, for meat.  http://earthlings.com.  And Edwin, your comment is the typical angry response of a guilt ridden meat eater that knows better. I was that way once, til I made the connection. There is so much out there in the way of literature, films, health information, it's ridiculous and archaic to think we need meat to survive when it fact, cruelty aside, it's killing us and this planets resources. Watch Earthlings...if you dare. It's free and it's not called The Vegan maker for nothing.  And Ben, humane slaughter? I doubt the animals find it humane. Is that like kind and gently rape?  The words and phrases we use to assuage our guilt....oh and lastly again to Edwin, how are vegans hypocrites by living by our ideals? To me a hypocrite is someone that loves their dog and eats a pig, which is proven to have the emotional capacity of a 3 to 5 year old child Think about that next time you are eating your bacon. Who's the hypocrite now?  Not even going to get into the health aspects of the typical American diet laden with meat, but it's pretty apparent, it isn't doing anyone any favors.

 



Posted by: glen r thompson | Jan 24, 2013 07:57

Ann Flagg - I fail to see a connection of being a vegan and defending a legitimate business acting totally within the law.  Your logic defies logic.  Even though you hold a very small minority opinion  you find superior to others  doesn't make you the enlightened one.   Except, maybe, in your own mind.



Posted by: gregory b hatt | Jan 24, 2013 07:03

Almost vegan ?  Is that like being a little bit pregnant ? Long Grain is the best thing to open in Camden in a long time.They employ  local girls,the food is great and healthy,and the atmosphere in the restaurant has a certain energy.Go there on a friday night and you will see what I mean.Enjoy !



Posted by: Ann M. Flagg | Jan 23, 2013 23:45

 

 



Posted by: Ann M. Flagg | Jan 23, 2013 23:15

wow where to start? Well first of all rats are rodents and rabbits are lagomorphs and Glen I am a vegan and I have a hard time believing that any vegan supports the eating of any sentient being. I have to call b.s. on your claim. I have 9 rescue bunnies and they are amazing loving creatures. Why do people claim to "love" animals but still eat them? You can't. Eating meat is not a choice, it's certainly not a choice for  the animal and I suggest everyone watch "Earthlings" then tell me that eating animals is ok. There is nothing ethical about killing a sentient living creature. Would you be okay with eating dogs because certainly in many other cultures that is common. Evolve please.



Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Jan 23, 2013 08:13

Today's BDN has Andresen listed as "almost vegan", that's sor t of like almost a meat eater isn't it?  The bunny whisperer needs to get a life and once again folks from away attempting to tell us what is best for us. 



Posted by: glen r thompson | Jan 22, 2013 15:04

Ingrid Van Steenberg - Perhaps you missed high school Civics or never read the Constitution.  There is a difference between voicing an opinion and harassing other people and their legal business practices.  I'm perplexed you are unable to see that.



Posted by: glen r thompson | Jan 22, 2013 14:53

It may not be "such a crime.....have an opinion you disagree with..."  Correct, but it is a crime to harass a legitimate business obeying the law.  I am a vegan and also happen to have a wonderful white rabbit; but, I support Long Grain 100%.  After all, this is America.  Appears to me Paula Palakawong has a legitimate suit against Mr. & Mrs. Andresen  for harassment and disruption of a legal business and the possible loss of patrons.  I hope she pursues this to the fullest.  If the Andresens feel they have a gripe, they need to try to change the law and not go around disrupting businesses.  I don't know where they are from; but, this is how it is done in America.



Posted by: pat putnam | Jan 22, 2013 10:30

Why do people feel the need to make personal attacks rather than just expressing their opinions here?



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 21, 2013 21:58

Hi IVS

Some other time we could discuss at length what some American people [miss]-understand by "freedom of expression."

Specifically in our present case let me quote from the article: "On Jan. 17, Camden Police officers visited the Andresens' home to issue a written warning for harassment and trespassing which Andresen said stemmed from two visits she made to Long Grain to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE [my caps] owner Paula Palakawong to remove rabbit from the specials menu for good.

So it seems that the Andresens' believe in their unrestricted freedoms with total disregard to our rights. In other words; their way or the highway.

 



Posted by: Ben Ellison | Jan 21, 2013 20:39

No, Ingrid, what I'm saying is that discussing a Village Soup article is quite different than picketing a business. You tried to equivocate the two.



Posted by: Maine DOC | Jan 21, 2013 20:35

If every person who protests in regards to the food others eat would put thier energy to fight child abuse this world would be a better place.   Value human life.... 



Posted by: Ingrid Van Steenberg | Jan 21, 2013 19:41

So Ben - are you saying that what the Andresens are doing would be okay if you weren't so fond of the object of their picketing?  Come on, folks, get your personal opinions (and egos) out of this.  Whether or not you agree, these people have a right (for now) to voice their opinions. 



Posted by: Ben Ellison | Jan 21, 2013 19:13

"If you don't like what the Andresens are saying - couldn't you have just not read the article?"

 

Sorry, Ingrid, but that doesn't make sense. The Andresens picketed Long Grain; we're just talking about it on a web site. I, for one, often respect picket lines and will always listen to the protesters. But I find it hard to imagine a local business that's sweeter or more authentic than Long Grain and I'm gratified that the consensus opinion here is more or less "silly stuff". This may be a little hard to hear for the Andresens but hopefully it will encourage them to explore new horizons.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jan 21, 2013 19:11

Ingrid,

This article is news.  As for not voicing our opinion, it's one thing to stand by what you believe and carry on with your life.  It's another to total disrupt businesses and post negatively on website's.  These are small businesses who rely on the local people to keep them going.  It does seem as if the Andresen's are giving these businesses a hard time because they have rabbit on their menu every now and then, which is not ok.  If you don't like something, fine.  You don't have to hurt other people and/or businesses because you don't agree.  Picketing is one thing but for them to go into the businesses and talk with them, well, in my opinion, that is overstepping the bounds.  I don't imagine I would ever order rabbit if it was on the menu of a restaurant that I went to.  Not because I had a pet rabbit but because it's just not my thing.  But I won't raise a fuss over it and tell them they had to take it off the menu because I didn't like it or didn't eat it.  Seems like they have gone overboard.  K, we now know that they don't eat meat and have a pet bunny and are visiting restaurants who sell rabbit on the menu. In my opinion, the Andresen's could be thinking of something really constructive to do with their time than telling restaurants to take something off their menu because they don't eat meat and have a pet rabbit.  I am still shaking my head wondering how much time this couple has on their hands.



Posted by: John Falla | Jan 21, 2013 19:01

This was not posted by John Falla, by the way. My name is Kim Polky.



Posted by: John Falla | Jan 21, 2013 18:59

We have a farm and are raising pigs, cows and chickens. It's easy to become fond of some of the farm animals,  but they are being raised for food for us and other families. I think this is complete silliness to think they should be telling others what they should eat or not eat. What business is it of theirs??  Find a different hobby, people.....



Posted by: Ingrid Van Steenberg | Jan 21, 2013 18:47

So, David, does the freedom of speech enjoyed by US citizens mean nothing to you?  Can't you see the irony in saying "If they don't like it, they should just not order it."  If you don't like what the Andresens are saying - couldn't you have just not read the article?  And all of you who are saying the Andresens surely have better things to do - like contribute to the community.  Maybe you should assess how much they do before getting on your high horses.  You might be surprised.

BTW - many vegans don't wear leather.  And why is it such a crime for someone to have an opinion you disagree with while it's perfectly okay for you to dump on them for it?  Seems like a double standard to me.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jan 21, 2013 18:23

W & R

Get a life!

It is tiring and sickening having to listen [again!] to vegans riding on their high horse telling us omnivores that they have better ethics than us. Yeah, right! And as for the assertion that meat is optional for humans . . .  I am sure you got this "fact" from a vegan website.

I rather consume local "everything" than some of your veggies that have been flown around half the world after poisoning the local farmers with all kinds of chemicals.

Please leave us omnivores alone. You just had your 15 minutes of fame. Now go and do something good for our local community!

 

 



Posted by: DANIEL DATES | Jan 21, 2013 17:32

Thank you , Lonnie, Cindy and Cynthia,   If you don't like it, don't order it. Seems to me, that  the time spent picketing could have been spent doing something A bit more constructive.



Posted by: Edward Myers | Jan 21, 2013 17:30

People have fish in tanks for pet's, however, most restaurant's serve fish. What is the big deal?



Posted by: Lonnie Morton | Jan 21, 2013 15:48

Come on, you have little to do if your out there picketing restaurants because they serve rabbit.  Rabbit is a good source of lean protein and has been eaten for centuries.  If you don't like an item on a menu just don't order it.  In today's economy restaurants have to be creative and offer different dishes to get people in the door.  Don't stand out in front of these establishments with your hooting and hollering and your stupid signs. Leave these restaurants alone and let them make a living.  What's next turkey burgers?



Posted by: Cindy Gerry | Jan 21, 2013 15:30

I don't think loving an animal puts you on a high horse, but I do think that just because someone has a pet rabbit and because they love it,  they  choose to picket a local small business (and a restaurant)  is kind of petty (pardon the pun).  Rabbit as a food is sold in plenty of places.  I don't really see the difference between rabbits, cows, chickens, turkies, mutton etc...  Nor do I think that eating meat is unethical.  It is a choice.  I find it ironic that many vegans wear leather, makeup, use products containing lanolin, drive a car with leather seats  etc.  But god forbid any of us unethical humans sink our teeth into a piece of meat.  The hours spent outside Long Grain could have been spent in cooking a vegan meal for a soup kitchen, volunteering at an animal shelter, or giving blood. It seems sort of an act of convenience, not really dedication.



Posted by: Cynthia L Williams | Jan 21, 2013 14:56

I have a friend that used to keep a pet pig, does that mean everyone should stop serving pork too? If you don't like something on the menu then I suggest you don't order it or don't eat there, people need to stop trying to bend everyone to their will.



Posted by: Ben Ellison | Jan 21, 2013 14:54

Why can't rabbits be food for one person and pet for another? In fact, that seems to be exactly what's happening and, as for myself, I think I could enjoy a rabbit either way.

I guess I could understand a protest if the rabbits were being slaughtered inhumanly but I very much doubt that. As best I can tell, all the restaurants and suppliers mentioned in this article have done a wonderful job of bringing reasonably ethical, healthy, and tasty food to our area. Please leave them alone,  Ms Andresen.



Posted by: Laura Libby-Campbell | Jan 21, 2013 14:13

Why is loving an animal as a pet considered being on a high horse Eddie?



Posted by: Edwin Ecker | Jan 21, 2013 13:43

A rabbit is only a rat with better PR,so get off your high horse you hypocrites and leave us meat eaters alone!!



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