Let me start off by saying I am not a vegetarian or vegan. That being said, I may not be a dedicated PETA advocate, but I’m totally down for animal rights too. I’m the first one to pile my plate with hot dogs and steak tips at the family barbecue, and there’s nothing I appreciate more than a perfectly (medium rare) seared steak, but I also think Sea World is evil, and organic, grass-fed beef is the way to go. But let’s get back on point, this article is all about the one particular meat product that I will never eat again, and that is foie gras.
For those of you who don’t know what foie gras is, it is a luxury french dish made from fattened duck or goose liver (“foie gras” literally translates to “fatty liver”). I know, sounds kinda gross, but I can’t lie, I tried it before a few years ago (prior to my knowledge of its preparation) and thought it was pretty damn good. It is typically sold whole or prepared as a mousse or pate and is a famous french delicacy that is definitely an expensive menu item at any restaurant.
I’m not trying to confuse you, as delectable as it may be, foie gras should not be prepared or eaten at all in my personal opinion. The reason behind my stance on banning this french cuisine dish is purely based on its preparation. We all know that not all animals we consume are housed and cared for humanely before they are slaughtered and I understand that injustice, but when I learned about the process of creating foie gras in this video I was truly appalled. The process of preparing the ducks and geese for slaughter is not only inhumane but completely unethical.
DISCLAIMER: this description and the photos may get a little graphic.
Essentially, the above photo is how ducks are prepared prior to slaughtering. To create foie gras, ducks and geese are crammed into tiny living quarters that make your Manhattan shoe box apartment seem like Barbie’s dream house. Then, the males are selected one by one to have a metal pipe shoved down their throats as they are force fed up to 3 pounds of grains and fat into their stomachs. That would be like someone force feeding you 45 pounds of dry food every day. As I’m sure you can imagine, these poor creatures aren’t feeling that lovely “now I have a food baby let me nap until dessert” feeling you get after a big dinner. Having dry grain shoved down their throats to the point of internal bleeding, lacerations, and disease is a fate all ducks and geese at foie gras farms are at severe risk of.
You may be curious, why are these animals force fed so much food? Why can’t they just use the liver of a goose or duck that eats normally? The answer to that is liver size. If they are not force fed absurd amounts of food all day their liver is far too small for the foie gras industry requirements. Force feeding causes their liver to swell nearly ten times the size it should truly be, which to me sounds like it must be incredibly painful for the animal. Many ducks and geese die from this force feeding before they are even ready to be butchered.
And what happens to those sweet female ducks? Since they are useless to the foie gras industry they are often tossed into grinders alive to be made into cat food. Charming.
I know the description is graphic, but to understand how horrible the process of creating foie gras is, you need the straight up facts.
Immediately after learning about the cruelty behind foie gras, I wanted to research what was being done about it. I was interested to find out that force feeding to enlarge the liver size of birds for foie gras is completely banned in the state of California as well as fifteen countries across the world.
Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck is one of the most famous advocates who refuses to serve foie gras entirely, having stopped serving it in 2007 as a part of an animal welfare program. Him along with many other celebrities, such as Kate Winslet, have used their voice to expose the brutality behind foie gras. The French-born Chef Albert Roux stated once that foie gras should come with a warning so that “people know what’s being done to the animals,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Yes, many food processes are cruel and there are dozens of other blatant issues with the food processing system that also need to be addressed, but for me the horrifying process behind foie gras needs to be put to an end. If fifteen countries can agree that it’s so wrong that it must be banned entirely, than there’s clearly a pressing issue here.
Though there are few farms that raise geese for foie gras in a more humane, natural way, the vast majority do not. So next time you go to order that foie gras pâté, hopefully you’ll think of these lil cuties and give it a second thought.