PETA’s Heart-Rending Appeal To Michelin CEO
The group calling itself, "People for Ethical Treatment of Animals" or PETA has made a heart-rending appeal to the Michelin CEO, Michel Rollier, asking it to stop awarding stars to restaurants that have foie gras or shark fin soup on their menus. The appeal has been made in a letter that Lindsay Rajt Associate Director of Campaigns, wrote to Rollier. PETA’s Executive Vice President, Tracy Reiman, says in this regard, “Eating body parts of animals who were tortured can hardly be considered fine dining. Instead of rewarding restaurants that serve these hideous products, Michelin should disqualify them from its ratings.” Quite a harsh stand, some would say, but then for those who know how foie gras or shark fin soup come to being, this makes perfect sense.
1) Force-Feeding aka Foie Gras
Foie gras comes from liver of geese and duck, which are force-fed so as to increase the livers in size. For a while, the world has been witness to a debate over whether the production of foie gras is ethical or unethical. There are a lot of supporters of both sides of the story, therefore, it is all the more necessary that you derive your own conclusion after witnessing this video, in which Oscar-winner Kate Winslet describes what the ducks and geese have to go through, in order for their livers to land up at dining tables of expensive restaurants. In Winslet’s own words, “Foie gras is sold as an expensive delicacy in some restaurants and shops but no one pays a higher price for foie gras than ducks and geese…”
2) Cruelty a la Shark Fin Soup
There is a simple way to put this. Fishermen catch the sharks, strip them off their fins, and then throw them back into the water. Poor sharks eventually die because they are unable to swim. Shark fin costs up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong and its soup is seen as a status symbol in Chinese culture. The depleting shark population is a proof of the fact that more than 70 million sharks are stripped of their valuable fins every year so that people can show off their wealth by buying bowl after bowl of this soup. Pictures don’t do justice to the cruelty meted out to these creatures in the name of fine dining.
3) Experts Beseech Ban on Foie Gras Production
Some of the experts who have been witness to the cruelty to ducks and geese, said that the birds who are force-fed begin to show signs of illness within a short period. One such veterinarian, who accompanied a police raid on one such foie gras enterprise, said, “(Force-feeding) can injure the mouth and oesophagus…The birds appear to be ill; their eyes are dull and their feathers unkempt.” A large number of New York veterinarians have signed a statement to outlaw foie gras production, as they felt that, “animals in this condition would feel extremely ill… Foie Gras production, by definition, constitutes clear-cut animal cruelty.” Konrad Lorenz, Nobel Prize-winning goose expert, refused to read a report promoting the foie gras industry to the European Parliament. He said, “I felt hot with anger. My viewpoint towards the ‘expert opinion’ which further permits forcible fattening of geese…can be express briefly: The ‘expert opinion’ is a shame for the whole of Europe.”
4) The PETA Appeal
PETA said in its letter:-
- On Foie Gras: People around the world are increasingly associating foie gras with extreme cruelty to animals. California has banned the sale and production of foie gras (effective this summer), and force-feeding has been outlawed in more than a dozen countries, including the U.K., Germany, and Israel. World-renowned chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter have removed foie gras from their menus because of the cruelty inherent in its production. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI denounced foie gras production as a violation of biblical principles, HRH Prince Charles has forbidden it at Royal events, and numerous companies worldwide have stopped selling this “delicacy of despair.”
- On Shark Fin Soup: To meet demand for shark fin soup, fishers often cut the animals' fins off while they are still alive and dump them back into the water to slowly bleed or suffocate to death. In October, California's governor signed a bill banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins to protect the world's dwindling shark population. California is the fourth state in the U.S. to ban shark fin imports--Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have already done so.
5) PETA Wants No Michelin Stars
Rajt hoped that the Michelin CEO would “decide not to give the Michelin star rating to restaurants that still serve foie gras, such as Cyrus and L2), or to those that serve shark fin soup, such as Sun Tung Lok.” Taking its appeal public, the PETA Associate Director has asked people to write to her email id (LindsayR@peta.org) and register support.
6) Change is Coming
Over the time, people’s attitude towards cruelty-ridden dishes like foie gras and shark fin soup is changing slowly but steadily. Even religious leaders, like Pope Benedict XVI have come forward in their support of movement to stop exploitation of farmed animals. In a 2002 interview, Pope said, “... Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Meanwhile, luxury hotel chain, Shangri-La, announced recently that it would ban shark fin from all of its 72 hotels, worldwide.
PETA’s heart-rending appeal to the Michelin CEO has come at a time when public awareness against such animal cruelty is at its peak. Surely you can do without that expensive plate of foie gras or that bowl of shark fin soup because if you don’t then some duck or geese and some shark will lose its life to cruelty and you wouldn’t even be aware of it. Please give it a thought!
Video Courtesy: youtube.com