ALDF and Regal Vegan have victory in “humane” foie gras case! »
Update!: I’m late to the party as usual: ALDF dropped their suit when Hudson Valley Foie Gras removed all mentions of “humane” from their site!
ALDF is waging a groundbreaking war against foie gras producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras and had a nice victory last week!
Today ALDF won a major victory in the false-advertising case against New York-based producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG). The U.S. District Court of Northern California denied HVFG’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that HVFG, the largest foie gras producer in the nation, violated the federal Lanham Act and California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Laws, by claiming to be “the Humane Choice.”
ALDF’s co-plaintiff, Ella Nemcova, operates a Brooklyn-based company, The Regal Vegan, which produces a legitimately humane, plant-derived foie gras alternative called “Faux Gras.” HVFG’s manipulative marketing tactics unfairly encourage consumers to buy its force-fed foie gras instead of cruelty-free products like The Regal Vegan’s. ALDF’s lawsuit also marks the first time a humane competitor has brought forth a federal case, using false advertising laws, alongside an animal protection group.
Today’s victory dismissed challenges to the legal standing of The Regal Vegan as a humane competitor and agreed that the groundbreaking case is actionable. While the court denied ALDF’s standing as co-plaintiff its other claims may go forward.
A foie gras company calling itself the humane choice? I don’t even know what to say about that except that terrible people say ridiculous things, I guess.
As the above states, Ella Nemcova is a plaintiff—she’s the creator of vegan crack, also known as faux gras. You know I love that stuff! I got an email from Nemcova a few weeks ago with some more info on the case:
Now, ALDF is planning to add sizzle to their case, in court and the public arena, by bringing in Temple Grandin, the animal science expert who created the more humane slaughter house and who was profiled in award-winning 2011HBO biopic.The foie gras lobby has used Temple in the past, claiming she assisted with certifying the product as humane. But now, she is setting the record straight. In a first-of its-kind statement provided to ALDF Grandin made clear her opinion of the product:
“Regarding foie gras production, force feeding is a procedure which is highly questionable from an animal welfare standpoint. If the bird’s metabolism is sufficiently overloaded with force fed grain, death losses will increase. One of my biggest concerns in animal welfare is biological system overload. This occurs when an animal’s physiology is pushed to a point where it starts to break down and the animal develops metabolic diseases and other problems that can severely compromise welfare such as lameness, heart stress, loss of body condition, death losses, mobility problems or abnormal behavior.”
California court rules selling banned foie gras isn’t “free speech” »
Turns out that selling foie gras products in California after the state ban took effect last July is still illegal. Or at least it’s totally not free speech, as La Toque restaurant in Napa unsuccessfully argued. Per our pals at Animal Legal Defense Fund:
In a ruling by the Napa County Superior Court, the Sonoma County-based ALDF successfully defeated La Toque’s anti- SLAPP (a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion which aimed to allow their continued illegal sale of force-fed foie gras products as a “protest” protected by the freedom of speech. The court denied La Toque’s motion and agreed that illegally selling foie gras is not protected by the freedom of speech.
Despite the state ban, ALDF’s undercover investigations have revealed that La Toque routinely sells foie gras, the enlarged livers of force-fed birds, in clear violation of California Health and Safety Code § 25982. The lawsuit alleges that La Toque aims to circumvent the law by calling its actual sales of foie gras “gifts.”
Nonsense! And now they have to stop. It’s been fully 13 years since the ban passed and a year since it was implemented, and people are still crying about it. Like there aren’t 10 million other meals to make out of tortured animal bodies. Come on, you whiny babies.
Your Vegansaurus of course thinks the Regal Vegan’s Faux Gras is tops, but none of us has ever even tasted overstuffed goose liver—because we’re not total jerks. Foie gras is banned in California! Accept it and move on!
[photo of Périgord geese by JanetandPhil via Flickr]
PETA President Bound and ‘Force-Fed’ During Protest »
Hi everybody, did you hear about this recent PETA UK demo? I’m interested in what you think about it. Details:
PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk caused enough of a scene outside British retailer Fortnum & Mason to make Britons drop their brollies in a colourful protest for PETA UK.
Showing what geese on Fortnum & Mason’s foie gras farms endure, a man bound Ingrid with ropes and pretended to shove a pipe down her throat. The pipe was attached to a funnel packed with grain, and fake blood oozed down her face to represent the mouth and neck wounds that geese sustain when they are gouged by the pipes.
In order to fully replicate how foie gras is produced, Ingrid would have had to be force-fed several times a day for weeks, until her liver had swelled to up to 10 times its normal size, when it would then be sold as a “delicacy.”
Until Fortnum & Mason stops the goose abuse, PETA UK vows not to stop the grotesque protests.
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! WOOHOO!
Good news: A judge has rejected the foie gras industry’s attempt to put a hold on California’s new law banning the force-feeding of ducks (and selling products from force-fed ducks).
More good news: North America’s largest foodservice distributor, Sysco, is the latest food giant to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs.
In response to the gestation crate debate, the National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was seriously quoted in the National Journal this week saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” (No, this isn’t a quote from 30 years ago—it’s July 24, 2012. Seriously. Yes, I know.)
Amazingly, USDA put out a newsletter this week including a mention of the health and environmental benefits of Meatless Monday. This of course drew immediate outrage from the meat industry and its allies in Congress (Rep. Steve King from Iowa tweeted that it was “heresy”), prompting USDA to immediately remove the newsletter and announce that it wasn’t properly vetted. Lots of coverage on this, though the national AP story put it best when it aptly concluded, “The USDA often promotes the beef industry by encouraging Americans to eat meat.” (NPR and NY Times had good coverage, too.)
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
Ag industry trade journal Feedstuffs had a nice look at our campaign that’s getting big food retailers to call for an end to gestation crates for pigs, noting: “As HSUS and other activist groups gain momentum and credibility with food distributors and retailers, the pork industry seems to be stuck in a rut.”
I was glad to be on CNN Headline News this week with the always-fantastic Jane Velez-Mitchell discussing both the victory in Rhode Island (we just passed laws there banning veal/gestation crates and cattle tail-docking) as well as the federal hen protection bill. (Speaking of JVM, did you know you can meet her in person at the Taking Action for Animals conference in DC?)
NPR’s had a fascinating series on meat and America this week, including the release of a new poll showing that nearly 40 percent of Americans are eating less meat than three years ago, and more than half of those people cite animal welfare and/or the environment as a reason for their cutback.
Finally, this Sunday, the long-awaited law banning force-feeding ducks for foie gras (and the sale of it) takes effect. The LA Times editorial board has a good message for the chefs whining about not being about to sell products from force-fed birds: “Get over it.”
Video the week: Not as funny as normal, but a good reminder of how amazing the world can be.
The California foie gras ban finally takes effect (after eight years of fruitless searching for a “humane alternative” to gavage) in less than a week! Dana Goodyear wrote a brief post for the New Yorker about a protest of one of those creepy last chance foie gras dinners chefs are putting on here, this one in Los Angeles; the quote is from Mark Peel of Campanile and it is rich.
Did you know that foie gras protesters are actually victimizing people who eat foie gras? Victimizing! Is there anything more ridiculous than a defensive omnivore? Yes: an omnivore getting defensive about a nonsensical, disgusting luxury food.
But don’t worry, California foie gras-lovers; chefs can still serve your precious food, as long as they don’t sell it, which Bloomberg reports some chefs are totally planning to do. Or they might charge a preparation fee to customers who bring in their own foie gras! FREEDOM!
Paul Shapiro presents: Tyson Foods exposed and Safeway gets on the humane train! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
Greetings from Denver, where I just conducted one of three HSUS press conferences today announcing the results of our latest factory farm investigation (the fourth agribusiness facility HSUS has exposed in 2012 so far).
This investigation reveals truly appalling cruelty to pigs at a Wyoming gestation crate confinement operation that supplies Tyson Foods. Please watch and share this important new exposé.
This comes on the heels of the joint announcement by Safeway and HSUS just yesterday that the country’s second largest grocer is now formulating plans to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
(And BTW, did you hear that? No? It sounded to me like the sound made when the legislative leadership in California delivers a smack-down to those who want to keep force-feeding ducks for foie gras legal in the state.)
You didn’t share that investigation link yet? Do me a favor and please do…pigs will thank you.
P.S. Video of the week: Yep, you guessed it.
Paul Shapiro presents: debating ducks, changing climate, and funny felines! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
Amazingly, even though they’ve had more than seven years to find an alternative to force-feeding, a small gaggle of foie gras enthusiasts in California are trying to repeal the upcoming July ban on the force-feeding of ducks for foie gras (and the sale of products from force-fed animals). I did a 20-minute debate about this on Southern California’s NPR affiliate yesterday, and an hour-long debate on Northern California’s NPR affiliate today.
Speaking of feeding, as far as what we’re feeding ourselves, the title of the Forbes article says it all: “Eating Less Meat Is World’s Best Chance For Timely Climate Change, Say Experts.” Meatless Monday recipes, anyone?
Some good news: HSUS’s Smithfield exposé video yesterday won a 2012 Webby Award! (The Webbys are kind of like an Oscars of online content.) We’re psyched.
Finally, last week’s video was the double-dutching dog. This week it’s the treadmill-loving cats.
Paul Shapiro presents: Ducks in the newspaper and cats in bed with you! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
In an LA Times op-ed today, the chairman of California Democratic Party lays a strong smack-down on those who want to repeal the state’s upcoming ban on force-feeding ducks for foie gras.
Food service giant Sodexo reports on the Meatless Monday efforts in its cafeterias: “Of the 74 percent who offered Meatless Monday, the majority of providers, 76 percent, said that the campaign was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to implement and 65 percent said they will continue to promote the campaign with an additional 24 percent noting that they may continue.”
Speaking of, the Des Moines Register notes that demand for meat is falling due to many forces, including both the popularity of Meatless Mondays, as well as “a more powerful animal rights movement.” The article illustrates this by saying “Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, took his agency from its traditional role as protector of the nation’s dogs and cats into a political activist organization that has pushed, with partial success, referendums against animal confinements.”
(While on that topic, Michigan papers reported this past week on HSUS’s efforts to get Domino’s pizza to stop buy pork products from producers that use gestation crates for pigs.)
If that doesn’t make you love cats, this video of the week might get you closer.
Guest post: Support California’s foie gras ban! »
On July 1, the production and sale of foie gras will be illegal in the state of California.
There is only one foie gras farm in California, Sonoma Foie Gras. This place is a factory farm and a total nightmare for the animals that are tortured there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
In 2011, I was one of the Animal Protection and Rescue League’s (APRL) undercover investigators inside Sonoma Foie Gras. We documented horrific conditions. The ducks were absolutely TERRIFIED of humans. There were ducks that could not get up, and ducks that had difficulty standing walking and breathing. All of the ducks were panting, which is a sign of extreme stress. They were covered in their own waste, blood, and regurgitated feed. There were dead ducks inside the pens and ducks that were on the verge of death. We saw trashcans that were filled with dead ducks, thrown away like garbage. You can watch footage of our undercover investigation here.
Most people don’t support this cruel treatment of animals anymore. In the state of California, only about 300 restaurants are continuing to serve foie gras (less than 1 percent of all restaurants). Foie gras production is supported by only a handful of chefs who lack the creative vision to create delicacies that aren’t produced by extreme animal cruelty. Not only are these chefs continuing to serve foie gras, in spite of the impending ban, a small (but vocal) minority are holding foie gras benefit dinners and raising funds to try to overturn the foie gras ban. A couple of these chefs have even been so bold as to say that they’ll defy it. They’re acting like little children throwing a temper tantrum.
Opponents of the ban have given a lot of false information to the media lately. A few chefs have stated that they’ve been to foie gras farms and have seen ducks running up to be fed! Are you kidding me? The ducks at Sonoma Foie Gras were TERRIFED at the very sight of humans!
Foie gras supporters have also stated that ducks would naturally gorge themselves. However, the particular breed of duck—a hybrid of Muscovy and Peking—used for foie gras production is not a migrating species, and these ducks would not gorge themselves. Moreover, even migratory ducks certainly wouldn’t gorge themselves to the point of organ failure, as is done in foie gras production. If ducks gorge themselves naturally, there shouldn’t be a need to force feed them, and there shouldn’t be a problem with a law against force-feeding.
Ban opponents claim to be working on a “humane” way of producing foie gras, but they’ve had eight years to come up with an alternative to force-feeding and they’ve come up with nada.
The San Francisco City Council, along with eight other city councils, including L.A. and San Diego, have passed resolutions calling on restaurants to stop serving foie gras. In that vein, I’ve started a campaign, United For Animals’ Foie Gras Fight, along with my fellow undercover investigators, to get foie gras cruelty out of the Bay Area! We’ve been organizing protests at Bay Area restaurants (mainly in San Francisco) that are serving foie gras and holding these ridiculous benefit dinners.
We have two recent victories under our belt: BayWolf Restaurant in Oakland (which removed foie gras from the menu four days after we protested there), and Taj Campton Place (which removed foie gras from the menu a few days before our scheduled protest). We need to keep the pressure on the restaurants that are continuing to serve foie gras.
The media have taken an interest in our cause, and have been sending crews to report on our protests, in which we seek to educate the public about the cruelty involved in foie gras production. We’ve recently done interviews with KTVU-2, NBC-3, CBS-5, and ABC-7.
If you would like to become involved in our campaign, and take a stand for the ducks that are tortured for this cruel delicacy, please check out our Facebook page, where you can find our upcoming events and links to our media coverage. You can also email me. We provide all of the signs, banners and leaflets. All you have to do is show up! It’s super easy and effective.
Dana Portnoy spends most of her “spare” time volunteering at Animal Place and Harvest Home Sanctuaries, baking treats for vegan bake sales, running half-marathons (to raise money for animals) and attending and organizing protests. She lives in the Bay Area with three rescued cats, who pretty much rule her life.