Did India Really Just Make a Historic Move in the Foie Gras Debate?
Amazon might think that selling foie gras is acceptable, but India is sending the world a message: it isn’t.
While California is the first state to ban foie gras in the United States, India has one-upped The Golden State by becoming the first country in the world to ban the importation of the foie gras. The historic ban is effective immediately, but we have to wait and see if the ducks and geese really get justice.
India‘s Foie Gras Ban
India is setting a new precedent across the globe. Around a dozen countries like Israel, Germany and England may have banned the production of foie gras first, but India is the first country to ban importing the dubious delicacy.
In a 2012 campaign against foie gras, animal advocates from Animal Equality got the ban moving by issuing a complaint to the country’s government. As part of that, Animal Equality presented to India’s Minister of Commerce a whole range of persuasive reports and reviews including those from the European Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations. As an aside, this story highlights why animals need whistle-blowers and why the US’ ag-gag laws are 100 percent unconstitutional.
What‘s So Bad About Foie Gras?
The fatty liver delicacy isn’t new. According to Enjoy Foie Gras, foie gras is an aristocratic delicacy that dates back to the ancient Egyptians 5,000 years ago. We’ve come a long way since then, and there are several reasons why we shouldn’t entertain foie gras.
According to Stop Force Feeding, while a duck’s normal liver weighs 50 grams, the foie gras industry requires a duck’s liver to weigh a minimum of 300 grams. The fatter the liver, the better.
Achieving this 300 gram minimum usually requires force-feeding. During the two or three daily feedings, a metal tube is forcefully shoved into the animal’s throat whereby it pumps two pounds of corn mass into the birds stomachs. Next, foie gras producers add oil and water to the mix to swell the birds up to 30 percent of their ideal body weight.
Some birds do more than swell. There are known cases where ducks and geese have actually exploded. Other birds have suffered ruptured livers, damage to their throat and esophagus and indescribable pain and suffering. The birds are also kept in unsafe, unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
The below video takes us behind the scenes at a foie gras farm. Please be aware that it contains very distressing images of animals being force-fed and having their throats slit. Viewer discretion is advised:
It takes a lot of food to make livers expand 12-times their healthy size. Producing excessive amounts of the main ingredient — corn — has devastating environmental consequences. Stop Force Feeding highlights that because of elevated corn production the environment is exposed to excessive amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, ammonia and greenhouse gases–and that’s not to mention the estimated 8,000 gallons of wasted water, pesticide runoff, manure, and slaughter waste (e.g. blood, bodily fluids, etc) that spread into our water, soil and air.
Surprise, surprise, medical research shows that foie gras may not be as healthy as once believed. According to Dr. Michael Greger’s report in One Green Planet, foie gras has contaminated protein fibers that can trigger diseases linked to amyloidosis, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Wait and See About India‘s Ban
Despite the known horrors of the foie gras industry, some believe that there are worse things. As reported in Niti Central, for some, the foie gras bans raise issues about the government’s role in our personal food choices. The article claims that individuals should be able to make choices that are morally sound without the government.
Indian chefs in upscale restaurants certainly agree that the government shouldn’t intervene. Like California chefs in 2012, Indian chefs are annoyed with the new ban. As reported in Indian Express, Executive Chef, Manish Mehrotra, is skeptical. As Chef Mehrotra explains, “Beef is traditionally a banned meat in the country but you still have plenty of menus offering Kobe or Angus fillets.” Plus, many European countries insist that there are ethical ways to produce foie gras with wild birds, even if these birds are much leaner than their force-fed counterparts.
California Chefs Found Loopholes
We really have to wait and see how serious India is on its commitment to the ban. Despite the 2012 ban in California, chefs are still serving up the fatty liver delicacy. As Reuters reports, chefs from Napa Valley are giving away the diseased and expanded liver pate for free because the ban doesn’t prohibit giving the goose away for gratis or transporting foie gras into the state. While a Facebook campaign has been launched, opponents of the California ban are willing to take their cause all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and no doubt some supporters in India will likewise want a fight.
Do you think India has what it takes to ban foie gras for good? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Ingrid Taylar