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Foie Gras Off the Menu for Canadian Festival Dinner

Foie Gras Off the Menu for Canadian Festival Dinner

Outrage by animal activists over foie gras has led to a sudden change of menu for the Winterlude kickoff dinner in Canada on February 4th.

The National Capital Commission had originally slated celebrity foie gras chef Martin Picard to serve the kickoff dinner of the winter festival in Ottawa. Winterlude is an annual celebration of winter in Canada that involves ice skating, ice sculptures, and other cultural and family events spread over three weekends in February.

Picard was chosen to serve the kickoff dinner at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, a move which raised ire from animal activists and those opposed to the “delicacy” of foie gras, which Picard specializes in.

Foie gras is “fat liver” in French, and comes from a duck or a goose that has been force-fed to such an extreme that its liver gets engorged to between six and ten times its normal size. Force-feeding of the animal involves it being restrained by a farmer while a metal tube is shoved down its throat, filling it full of corn mash from a mechanical pump.

Foie gras producers however, insist that the animals aren’t harmed by the process and that it is an entirely painless and gentle endeavor. Astoundingly, they can almost always say this with a straight face.

Foods like foie gras and veal demonstrate to the public the horrifying barbarity that human beings are willing to blithely inflict on animals in the name of a culinary specialty or a cultural tradition.

Sadly, however, these foods become single-issue campaigns for many activists who feel that by virtue of the novelty of the production process combined with the expensive delicacy status of the meals make these foods somehow worse than other animal foods. 

They may be more surprising, they may seem more alien to you culturally, but morally is there a real difference between the misery of a duck with a tube down its throat for the sake of a fancy French delicacy and a pig hung upside down by a chain with its throat cut for good old American bacon?

We can and must be horrified by foie gras. We must allow ourselves to be disgusted by cruelty, wherever we find it practiced, regardless of whether it’s a duck, a pig, a person, or a fish being tortured. What we cannot allow ourselves to do however, is draw distinctions and claim that certain forms of cruelty are “better” than others and make foie gras and veal the scapegoat for an entire animal agriculture industry that tortures and kills animals indiscriminately.

It isn’t a victory to have a foie gras taken off the Winterlude dinner menu if it’s simply going to be replaced by another kind of dead animal, even if its one we’re more comfortable killing. Shifting the suffering from one animal to another doesn’t eliminate the injustice, it simply redistributes it.

A boycott of foie gras is only meaningful in the context of a boycott of all animal products. Go vegan as a means to end injustice and misery, instead of simply moving it to a different animal.

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Photo: stu_spivack

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103 comments

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12:10PM PDT on Sep 20, 2013

Thanks for your article. Yes, ALL animals are precious and do not deserve to be exploited and eaten by people who selfishly use them while having recourse to so many other nourishing foods that involve no cruelty in the harvesting.

5:48AM PDT on May 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:31PM PDT on May 23, 2011

The writer hit it on the head when he said: "Foods like foie gras and veal demonstrate to the public the horrifying barbarity that human beings are willing to blithely inflict on animals in the name of a culinary specialty or a cultural tradition."

Is there nothing that some humans won't do when inflicting cruelty and suffering to satisfy their selfish need for a so called "delicacy"? Besides, it's a food that is terribly unhealthy to eat.

5:16PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

To place a metal tube in the manner of untrained persons can result in injury to inner organs within the mouth, throat, stomach et al. This catering to those who cater to such gross practices must cease.

5:12PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

Yes, it is a victory, we (I) am now aware. Awareness is king. Once known action can be strategized.
I look at it this way, these days, most of our human family force-feed themselves to some degree or another. I will definitely uncover information with a proactive search on this practice by including it in my investigations of all well-known and "out-there" animal abuse. I was taken aback when I recently learned of crush video and beastiality. Creative beings are in essence being destructive to the core being in all of us by presenting this to the public after overwhelming and widespread practice.

5:46PM PST on Feb 2, 2011

Sorry about that. Hit the r key by mistake for the e key in foie gras comment. So plse no attacks on spelling.

5:44PM PST on Feb 2, 2011

Wouldn't it be nice, if everyone who ordered foir gras, be required to watch footage on the inhumane & horrile treatment of the animals to obtain this "delicacy"??!! I wonder how many would cancel their order, or choose to turn a blind eye, once again???

7:26AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

This is a good start.

The best way to honor and protect animals EVERYDAY is to not eat them.

Fight cruelty with your fork; have compassion on your plate; increase social justice with every meal.

For more info about the *many* benefits of vegetarianism (and the many problems with the production and consumption of meat), please visit (and share) Eco-Eating at www.brook.com/veg

7:24AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Wow, that is sickeningly cruel. Until I read this article I did not know what foi gras really was. Who could do such a thing to an animal.

Cruelty-free is the only way to be :)

6:43AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Temos tantas e tantas coisas boas e gostosas para comer nesta terra abençoada e em outras terras alem mar... Ha muitos, muitos anos mudei o meu cardápio riscando do “MENU" as coisas que causam sofrimento a animais tão doces!!!! Um sofrimento tão atroz e provocado pela livre escolha e mão do homem! - Acredito que sempre é válida e nunca é tarde para refletir e verificar se há coerência entre o que sente, pensa e faz. –
We have so many, so many good things and yummy to eat this blessed land and other land and sea ... . many, many years I moved my menu scratching of "MENU" things that cause suffering to animals so sweet!!!! So atrocious and suffering caused by the free choice and hand of man! - I believe that is always valid and it is never too late to reflect and check for consistency between what we feel, think and do.
sincerely

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