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Wolfgang Puck Stops Serving Foie Gras

In a good news/bad news story, Wolfgang Puck has removed foie gras from the menus of his restaurants. That’s the good news, as force feeding ducks and geese is hideously cruel. The bad news is that more people will be feeling better about eating the other animals Puck sells and slaughters (his lobsters are killed by cutting them in half while they’re still alive) because he has jumped on the “happy meat” bandwagon with the help of the Humane Society and so-called progressive animal welfare standards, a la Certified Humane and Freedom Food.

Perhaps the most telling part of the story is Puck’s statement that he believes the quality of the (possibly-less-tortured) food is better and that “our conscience feels better.” Unfortunately, the clear(er) conscience often leads to an increase in the consumption of animal products.

Update: Kudos to the New York Times editorial, “Mr. Puck’s Good Idea,” for pointing out that foie gras and veal aren’t the only cruelly-produced foods. Unkudos to the same editorial for saying Puck “will help advance Americans’ knowledge that they can eat well and do right at the same time.” They can. They can go vegan.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by

    carlottavaldez

    on #

    He also vowed to go mostly organic.

  2. Comment by

    Gary L. Francione

    on #

    Mary Martin makes an important observation about the “happy meat” movement, which is being actively promoted by many of the large animal organizations.

    The “happy meat” movement is a disaster.

    First of all, animal welfare reform does little, if anything, to provide significant protection to animal interests. Indeed, for the most part, these welfare reforms do little more than make animal use more efficient and more profitable for producers. For a discussion of this problem in a particular context, see my essay on the campaign for alternatives to the gestation crate.

    Second, these reforms merely make people feel better about continuing to exploit animals and may even increase net suffering. If we are exploiting 5 animals at a level of 10 units of suffering, decrease suffering by 1 unit and increase consumption to 6 animals, we have gone from a net of 50 units of suffering to a net of 54 units of suffering. If we decrease consumption by 1 animal, we have a net decrease of 10 units of suffering.

    Third, the “happy meat” movement is fundamentally inconsistent with an animal rights message. Although it is always better to do less harm than more, that does not mean that we should be promoting less harm as morally acceptable (particularly when welfare reforms have little practical effect in terms of reducing harm). It is better not to beat X in addition to raping X. But raping X without beating X does not make the rapist “morally conscientious.”

    Just as the women’s movement does not promote “humane” rape, the animal rights movement ought not to promote “humane” animal exploitation. I discuss this issue further in this essay.

    It’s a zero-sum game. We have limited time and resources. To the extent that we spend time and money on welfare reforms, we do not spend those resources on abolition and vegan education. To the extent that we spend movement resources on promoting “cage-free” eggs, we do not spend those resources on educating people about not eating eggs at all. It is better to be clear on the message and put resources into vegan education.

    By the way, foie gras is certainly horrible, but no more horrible than many of the other animal products that we eat, including those sold by “happy meat” hucksters like Whole Foods.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University
    http://www.animal-law.org

  3. Comment by

    tumadoireacht

    on #

    i have it on good authority that geese and ducks queue up with cries of anticipatory delight to be gavaged. one could illogically extend some vegan arguments to the yeasts and cultures that form the basis of some vegan foods-are we being cruel to tofu and tempeh? beer? plants even?
    there is merit in educating and encouraging meat eaters to minimize cruelty. lobsters can be killed quickly and humanely, as can most eaten animals. there is equal merit in pointing out the health and eco benefits of low meat or meat free diets to the unconverted. anthropomorphisation is responsible for misdirected energy and funds in similar organisations such as greenpeace. as woody allen pointed out nature is one enormous restaurant where consumption of ones neighbours is normal. recent proposals to convert food(sugar and corn) to car fuel are as bad as herring to fertilizer schemes of 30 years ago,and may be worth more attention.

  4. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Wow, tumadoireacht, my misguided anthropomorphisation [sic] almost had me convinced you were a rational, thinking being. I’ve gotta be more careful with that thing.

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