The Sherwood Taipei, one of the city's most famous five-star luxury hotels, suffered major online criticism from netizens over reports that the hotel's restaurant served rabbit meat as part of its seasonal winter menu.
Online critics and rabbit owners posted their opinions on their Facebook pages and started a special event condemning the consumption of rabbit meat as cruel.
Online critics called for the hotel to halt the sale of rabbit meat and received 900 Facebook "likes" by 10 p.m. on Tuesday after going public earlier in the day. The event had 1,600 participants as of last night.
The Sherwood Taipei stated that their sale of rabbit meat was entirely legal and they do not plan to change their winter menu. The Facebook event boycotting the luxury hotel's sale of rabbit meat was started by a rabbit owner surnamed Lin.
Lin stated that she has owned rabbits for over five years and feels that they are members of her family. Lin believes selling and consuming rabbit meat is inconceivable and cruel.
"Could you take a cat or a dog you have raised and cook them to put on a table?" she commented.
The five-star institution has recently been promoting its winter menu at the Yi Yuan Chinese restaurant, which puts emphasis on specialty rabbit, snake, turtle, and other rarely consumed animals. The title of the dish featuring rabbit meat is a play on words "hopping hot pot".
Each pot retails for NT$1,600 (S$66) and requires prior reservation by guests, the hotel stated. The hotel also indicated that the rabbit meat comes from a supplier in Kaohsiung, however the hotel was unwilling to divulge which supplier they use.
The hotel claimed their decision to continue the dish in the future would depend on its popularity with customers.
The Executive Yuan's Council of Agriculture stated that there are currently only 35 locations in Taiwan that have a license to raise rabbits, with a combined total of 8,400 rabbits.
These rabbits are primarily used for animal testing and as household pets, while a slim minority are consumed, stated the council.
The council also said in their statement that the sale of rabbit meat is entirely legal despite public sentiment toward serving rabbit meat being quite negative.
Director of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Cheng Hsin General Hospital stated that rabbit meat, along with pork and lamb, belongs to the group of warm foods, and does not particularly supplement the body, but simply satisfies one's appetite.
The director reminded the public that those who have high-blood pressure or kidney disease should avoid eating too much of these meats, which may have adverse effects.