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Fois Gras. Objecting isn’t as simple as you might think.

January 9, 2012

Over the past year, I have found myself in many a situation wishing I hadn’t bothered bringing up the argument that is Fois Gras. You see, I know my argument is solid but it’s incredibly hard to put it forward verbally. So let me try in writing.

First off, let me make a few things clear. I have & would again eat Fois Gras. I am, currently, of the opinion that it is ok for us as humans to prepare the dish of Fois Gras in the manner in which it is currently prepared in France & other parts of Europe. This is to say, by force feeding a Goose or Duck so the liver of the bird expands to 3 times the size thus making the liver far richer in taste when it comes to slaughter. Yet, I don’t believe everyone should share this view. I will go into more detail in just a second but ultimately, I believe there is no middle ground on this argument.

Of course the nature of Fois Gras is controversial. No one likes to hear about any creature being force fed. Our instincts kick in & we believe this rather unusual farming process is cruel & should be outlawed. However, & this is the key point, we still believe it is ok to farm & kill animals simply to satisfy our own taste buds.

For many decades now, we have learned to live without the need for meat in our diet. I’m not suggesting we all do. But those vegetarians amongst us have learned to form a diet made up of many proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins & minerals. Some of the healthiest people in the world are vegetarians so it’s pretty clear that if we wanted to, we could all – in the UK certainly – become meat-free eaters.

But we continue to eat meat. Why? Because we want to. Therefore, as it’s not illegal to farm & kill animals to eat, we deem it socially acceptable to do so. We think this, because this is what was decided many years ago (probably due to necessity rather than choice at the time) & this is has been passed down to us via generations & generations. Fair enough.

However, at some point in life, we decided between us that as humans, we are more important than animals & therefore our need for meat is greater than an animal’s need to live a full life. This point of view is shared today, in the year 2012. Let me repeat this. We decided it is ok to farm & kill an animal’s life short (often in their prime), because we as humans prefer to eat the dead meat of an animal than live off vegetables, fruit & vitamin supplements. Again, fair enough, I don’t have an issue with this.

My issue, however, is when someone pipes up & says assumingly that while it’s perfectly fine to farm an animal & kill it for its meat because the human race decided it preferred the taste of dead animal than that of things of the earth that don’t require killing, it is apparently horribly barbaric & – of course – wrong to force feed a bird corn via a tube. The line – for most people – seems to be categorically drawn firmly between these two acts. This is what I question. The placement of this line. The line being – I presume – our moral conscience.

Surely you’re either against the killing or harming of all animals for meat eating purposes or you’re not against anything at all as long as it makes something taste nicer. How is there a line halfway or 90% of the way up this continuum? It’s ridiculous when you properly think about it. People are outraged that a bit of discomfort comes to a bird in the lead up to its death. If anything, they should be outraged at the death part. The bit where we as a society say “yes, it is ok for us humans to kill a perfectly healthy animal in its prime just so we can vary our food choice on a daily basis”.  By accepting the above statement you have morally chosen the corridor to head down. The corridor down which you believe animals are beneath you in society. Don’t try & head down the other corridor that fights for the animals right to a comfortable life before its untimely & unneeded slaughter. That corridor is insignificant & tiny in comparison to the one you chose earlier.

And don’t talk to me about responsible farming where animals get looked after up until the point of slaughter. If I told you I was farming & slaughtering humans you’d say I was mental & call me barbaric. Would your view change if I told you I was looking after them very well up until the day they were due to die? No of course not. It’s irrelevant. It doesn’t make a difference.

I never really got this responsible farming concept. Is this something we as a society came up with to make ourselves feel less guilty about the fact we still farmed & killed animals for no survival need at all? I think it is. And because we have all had this taught down to us through generations & generations, it’s ingrained in us. We don’t know why we think it, but we just do.

That’s why we think the concept of Fois Gras is wrong. It’s not something we’ve grown up with (especially in the UK). If you were French, I’m sure you’d have a different view. Just like if you were Korean & I told you eating Dog was ok.

Let me get this straight. Causing temporary discomfort to a bird is unacceptable. Yet, killing it & eating is perfectly acceptable. Really?

As I said before, whilst I may seem to take the moral high ground in my argument at times, I am someone who has taken that big wide open corridor that most other people took that said it was ok for us to kill & eat animals for our own pleasure (not necessity, pleasure). However, I also question this rather natural & instinctive negative reaction we all have towards the process of Fois Gras.

There’s no middle ground here. There’s no fence. You either believe it’s ok to kill animals for our own (food) pleasure or you don’t. I don’t believe there’s a line you insert to make yourself feel better.


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One Comment
  1. Jac Robb permalink

    Slaughtering animals for meat, swiftly, painlessly and humanely is one thing – force feeding an animal to the point where it suffers pain and discomfort is completely different.

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