Animal Welfare

No, Foie Royale at Waitrose is not “guilt-free” or “very ethical”

I’m writing this in response to the recent Daily Mail article, “Waitrose sells ‘guilt-free’ foie gras that avoids force feeding geese by making the delicacy in a lab using the livers of dead birds”.

When you share the article via Twitter, this is what appears (screen grab taken from my personal account after I shared the article):

waitrose lab foie gras

This Daily Mail article is deliberately misleading. Guilt free? Laboratory-made version of foie gras? Ethical alternative? Surely I can’t be the only one who, upon seeing that headline, assumed the product was lab meat (i.e., made using cellular technology, in which no animals were harmed in the making in the product). Well, it turns out that the product, Foie Royale, is not actually “lab meat” in the sense of its common usage. No, this is a product that simply removed the force-feeding aspect of foie gras and instead, during the end process, does something to the liver of dead birds in a lab.

This is what struck me as soon as I saw this article: Isn’t it funny that the meat industry doesn’t want plant-based alternatives to use terms like “burger” and doesn’t want vegan or cell-based meats to use the term “meat”, and yet products like Foie Royale are clearly trying to take advantage of consumers by capitalizing on the lab meat trend? 

Note that this is not raised once in the article. Like almost every other article about animal products or animal agriculture, there is little objectivity. The Daily Mail’s article serves as propaganda for the product, not once questioning its claims of being “very ethical” or “guilt-free.” In the production of Foie Royale, ducks and geese are still raised on farms and they are still slaughtered for the product. The animals may not be force-fed or kept in cages as they are in the production of traditional foie gras, but this does not make the end product “guilt-free.” Individuals were still raised and killed for an unnecessary food product (and one that, I should point out, already has vegan alternatives). The company has the audacity to claim in its Twitter bio that it’s made from ducks and geese “living in freedom!” How are animals who are being raised for the sole purpose of slaughter “living in freedom”? If you’re killing animals then you’re not allowing them to live their lives freely with their own autonomy!

foie royale twitter bio

Foie Royale’s twitter bio as of 7/14/2019.

Foie Royale took seven years to get made at the Institute of Food Technology in Quakenbrück, Germany. So in almost a decade, this company couldn’t figure out how to remove traditional animal farming from its product. Sounds like a waste of money to me. Meanwhile, there are legitimate lab meat companies around the world that are working on actual guilt-free versions of meat, fish, and dairy products. These are the companies we should be supporting, not those that want to ride the wave of the lab meat movement while still exploiting and killing animals.

The featured image in this post is used under a Creative Commons license, and depicts how ducks and geese are raised in a traditional foie gras production farm. In most articles on foie gras, the image used is not of the exploited animal but of the end product, which helps normalize the idea that animals are ours to be used. I choose to show the animals who died for these food products so that people don’t forget the individuals who were exploited.

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