Have you ever seen foie gras on a menu at a restaurant and wondered exactly what it is? Foie gras – or “fatty liver” – is made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of ducks and geese. The birds are force-fed until their livers swell to as much as 10 times their normal size.
Geese are usually confined to pens or group cages, and ducks are often crammed individually into shoebox-like cages which are so small that the birds cannot even turn around or stretch their wings. Because male ducks’ livers grow larger than those of females, only males are used by the foie gras industry. Female hatchlings are commonly thrown alive into electric mincers.
During the force-feeding phase, the birds are restrained while up to 2 kilos of grain and fat are forced down their throats two or three times a day via a pneumatic feeding tube. The massive amounts of food can rupture the birds’ internal organs, and regular insertion of a feeding tube can damage their oesophagi, making each force-feeding more painful than the last.
The birds’ grossly swollen, diseased livers cease to function normally, allowing toxins to build up in the birds’ systems and causing further sickness and pain. Many ducks suffer from foot infections, kidney necrosis, spleen and kidney damage, respiratory illnesses, bruised and broken bills and tumour-like lumps in their throats.
Foie gras production is so cruel that it is prohibited in more than a dozen countries, including Australia, Ireland and the UK. High-profile stores such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser have removed foie gras from their shelves, and Prince Charles has banned foie gras from Royal menus. Many top Australian restaurants also refuse to sell foie gras. But unfortunately, even though it is illegal to produce it here, foie gras is still sold throughout Australia.
What You Can Do
Never buy foie gras. Urge restaurant owners, gourmet food shops and caterers to sell vegan pâté instead. And order your free vegan starter kit today to find out more!
Posted by Claire Fryer