It took just two protest demonstrations for activists from England’s Bath Activist Network (BAN) to persuade the owner of a new restaurant to stop selling foie gras.
“We are pleased this was done in an amicable way,” said a spokesperson for BAN. “We are not against people eating meat and do not want everyone to be vegetarians, although that would be good. It is more about the additional cruelty in foie gras, which is just unnecessary and has no place in civilized society. The amount of support we get when we hold these protests shows most people agree with us.”
The culinary extravagance known as foie gras, the “fatty liver” of male ducks and geese, is created by grossly manipulating an animal’s body to provide a fleeting gustatory pleasure to the palate. The foie gras industry uses an invasive technique to force-feed ducks and geese until they have become so obese their livers are engorged with fat. The diseased livers of the slaughtered birds are considered a delicacy in many high-end restaurants, which have attracted protests from outraged activists who regard foie gras as a frivolous appetizer inseparable from the egregious abuse of animals.
Following the two-hour demonstration on Friday, which involved 14 activists, restaurant owner Hein van Vorstenbosch decided to take the pate, imported from France, off his menu, even though it was popular with his patrons. Friday’s protest was the second time BAN had targeted the Minibar.
BAN was formed in the fall of 2006 and also campaigns on environmentalism, anti-globalization, food issues, pro-peace and gender. Earlier this year, BAN protested outside Bath’s Beaujolais restaurant, prompting it to stop selling foie gras.
Two for two. Not bad!
Interested in combating foie gras in your area? US activist Nick Cooney uses these tools:
• postcards to city council members from their constituents (signed at tabling venues)
• letters from local free-range duck farmers supporting a ban on foie gras
• meetings with council members and pledges from restaurateurs not to sell foie gras
• petitions signed by business owners in favor of the ban
• emails, faxes and letters to legislators
• endorsements from other animal groups in the city.
Nick and his fellow activists use the Internet to identify restaurants offering foie gras. “Many upscale restaurants have their menus online,” he says, “and there are thousands of restaurant reviews online for every city. It’s not hard to find restaurants that serve foie gras.” He also uses resources offered by national groups like Farm Sanctuary, which keeps track of businesses selling foie gras, and looks at menus posted outside restaurants.
“We have tried contacting restaurants in advance through letters or phone calls,” Nick says, “but typically this doesn’t yield any results. Letters are usually ignored, and so far phone calls have not led anywhere. So we organize evenings of demonstrations ― usually on a Friday or Saturday, as that is when the most customers are dining out. We’ll have one individual go into the restaurant and ask to speak with the manager or owner about the issue. He or she will inform the owner that we would like to set up a meeting to discuss the issue with them, but that if they are not willing to meet with us we will be protesting the restaurant.” Nick reasons that the restaurants are not making much profit from foie gras, which is used to showcase a chef’s talent and attract hard-core foodies.