This post is a tribute to a very special rabbit along with a recipe to honor her. And who better to tell you about Fiona than her own Daddy? Gary Loewenthal, co-founder of Compassion for Animals and founder of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, is one of my vegan heroes who does so much to make this world a better, kinder place. In this moment, in this place, his voice speaks for Fiona and for rabbits everywhere:
Fiona was the light of our lives. The precocious five-pound bunny came to live with us in 2003, and we didn’t know what we were in for. She let us into her magical world, and she was the sweetest soul we’ll ever meet.
For eight and a half years, every night she would zoom into the TV room, jump on the futon to join my wife and me, enthusiastically toss her toys onto the floor (for which she would receive great praise), and proceed to engage in a prolonged grooming session with me. First she’d thoroughly wash my hands. Then she would put her head down, presenting her nose and forehead to me, so I’d pet her. She would repeat this cycle several times, then luxuriously (and demurely) flop between us and contentedly watch TV. These are evenings we’ll never forget.
She was very social. She loved hanging out with us. She was endlessly inquisitive. If we made a tunnel out of a cardboard box, she would thoroughly investigate it and run through it and around it. She would polish off a dinner-size plate of salad in two minutes, without stopping to take a break.
Each evening she’d allot some time to wrestle with a particular cardboard box – her nemesis – and from our vantage point we’d see two bunny ears and a box moving up and down and vigorously from side to side.
Over the years, our love for Fiona deepened. We had a comfortable routine that lasted until she was 10 years old.
It is one of the tragedies of life that our companion animals don’t live as long as we do. Death was fairly sudden for Fiona, for which we’re grateful. But after losing her, the pain was excruciating, and the upstairs of the house, which was designed for her end-to-end, had lost its spirit. It’s amazing how much zest and life a five-pound bunny brings to a household. Our days and nights were brightened with her in it, and we’ll always miss her deeply.
Shortly after Fiona’s passing, a friend suggested that I come up with a recipe incorporating her favorite foods. My wife and I are no good at creating recipes. But Rhea is! I asked Rhea if she was interested. Graciously – and within an hour of my asking – she had come up with Fiona’s Favorites Moroccan Salad.
As soon as I saw the picture and read the ingredients, I knew it would be my favorite dish ever – and it is. I was so touched by Rhea’s creative act of kindness. Not only is the dish delicious and deeply meaningful to us, but it is also a way we can share Fiona’s legacy with friends and family, and now with wonderful people all over the world.
There are countless rabbits waiting to be adopted into caring homes. Please note that rabbits should live indoors in a spacious and safe environment, they can live 10 years or more, they are not a good “starter pet” for kids, they typically do not like to be picked up, they require specialized vet care, and they require as much time and expense commitment as a dog or cat. But the effort is worth it. You will gain an incredible, magical, and often quite entertaining companion unlike any other (plus rabbits are naturally vegan). It is hard to describe the wonderful feeling when your bunny – the consummate prey animal in the wild – runs up to you to greet you and hang out with you.
For reliable information on rabbit care, visit the House Rabbit Society at www.rabbit.org and/or check out your local rabbit rescue group (such as Friends of Rabbits – www.friendsofrabbits.org – in the Washington, DC area, from which we adopted Fiona).
The last night of Fiona’s life – when her lung condition was far beyond what we had imagined – she washed my hands more thoroughly than she ever had before, as if to say “Thank you for a wonderful life.”
And thank you to Rhea for this beautiful, heartfelt, and downright delicious dish.
For the Parsley-Dill Dressing:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. dried dill
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup fresh parsley
For Fiona’s Favorites Salad:
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 Romaine heart (or leaf lettuce), chopped
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, grated
1 apple, chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
2 Tbs. slivered almonds
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbs. Kalamata olives, sliced
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
Combine the kale and lettuce in a large bowl. Pour the oil onto your hands and massage the greens until they are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, apple, raisins, almonds, cranberries and olives to the greens. Drizzle with the dressing. Serve with extra dressing on the side. Enjoy with your beloved bunnies.
“We are temporarily separated for only a short time. The silver cord that connects us through time and space can never be broken.”
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.