Jeanette Winterson responds to Rabbit-gate on As It Happens


When British writer Jeanette Winterson posted photos on Twitter of a rabbit she trapped in her garden, killed, and then skinned and cooked, she didn't anticipate how negative the online backlash would be.

The award-winning author of many books, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry, faced some heavy criticism from social media users and even lost some fans after sharing her rabbit recipe.

Winterson spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about the incident, saying she lives in the English countryside where she traps (humanely, she says) and prepares wild game for food. You can listen to the full interview here:

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Winterson said the area had recently become inundated by a "plague of rabbits," and some had developed a taste for her parsley bed.

"Normally we can all live and let live, but not when you wake up in the morning and you've got 50 rabbits on your lawn and they've started to chew their way through your garden."

Winterson didn't think it was a big deal and posted the images online because she found them amusing. Soon after, some Twitter followers were telling her she made them "sick," and that she "disappointed" them.

"I didn't find that picture at all upsetting," she said. "I find pictures of McDonald's hamburgers and factory-farmed chickens upsetting. I don't find the picture of a wild rabbit that's had a good life, that has been quickly killed and, I have to say, expertly skinned and ready for the pot, at all upsetting."

The author said she has "the highest respect for vegetarians" and that she was one herself for seven years, but mostly because it was harder to get ethically raised meat at the time. As a meat-eater, Winterson said it's more important to her how an animal is treated during its life than the fact that it is killed and cooked. 

"Would I be a better person if I went to the supermarket and bought a rabbit in a plastic bag?"

While the whole experience has surprised Winterson, she remains an enthusiastic participant on social media, where she enjoys the multitude of perspectives and viewpoints. And, indeed, some people have stuck up for her during the incident. But what about her former fans who have now publicly stated they will no longer read her books?

"Do you only read vegetarians?" Winterson asked.