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Animal Rights Activist Being Sent to Jail: “The Animals Have it Far Worse.”

June 8, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Amber Canavan is spending the month of July in jail. Her crime? Entering a foie gras facility, where tens of thousands of ducks are intensively confined and force fed through metal pipes, and rescuing two of them.

Amber Canavan entered Hudson Valley Foie Gras to document and expose the cruelty

Amber Canavan entered Hudson Valley Foie Gras to document and expose the cruelty

“We still live in a world where people who commit the abuses are victims and those who expose them are criminals,” said Ms. Canavan. “I don’t want to go to jail, but my time there will be a cakewalk compared to what animals are forced to endure in foie gras factories.”

Ducks cower in fear at the side of their cage at Hudson Valley Foie Gras (photo: still shot from footage taken by Amber Canavan)

Ducks cower in fear at the side of their cage at Hudson Valley Foie Gras (photo: still shot from footage taken by Amber Canavan)

In 2011, Ms. Canavan and another activist whose identity she has protected paid a late night visit to Hudson Valley Foie Gras in upstate New York, the largest foie gras producer in the United States. While there, she documented the “deplorable” conditions in which the ducks are kept. The footage she captured was used in a foie gras exposé produced by the Animal Protection and Rescue League and narrated by actress Wendy Malick.

In February, the NY Times published a lengthy story about the incident, which linked to the video and informed readers about the “force feeding” required to produce this “controversial” dish. “I take comfort in the fact the NY Times article and the footage that I took have helped to expose the atrocities being committed against these animals,” said Ms. Canavan.

Excerpt from NY Times story about Amber Canavan and Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Excerpt from NY Times story about Amber Canavan and Hudson Valley Foie Gras

After several weeks of intensive care, the two ducks rescued by Ms. Canavan recovered from their injuries and are “flourishing” at a sanctuary, where they have access to fresh air, proper care and water for swimming. Ducks and geese are aquatic animals, but they have no access to water in foie gras factories.

Ducks are aquatic animals but have no access to water in foie gras factories. These two ducks were rescued by Amber Canavan.

Ducks are aquatic animals, but they have no access to water at Hudson Valley Foie Gras and other foie gras producers. These two were rescued by Amber Canavan.

The campaign to expose foie gras cruelty and hold restaurants that serve it accountable has intensified in recent years. Since 2014, activists in the U.K. with Hertfordshire Animal Rights and London Vegan Actions (LVA) have compelled at least 10 restaurants to stop selling foie gras. In recent months, LVA has staged provocative disruptions inside of establishments that refuse to remove the “delicacy of despair” from the menu.

Amber Canavan will complete her jail term at the end of July, but her punishment won’t stop there. For the next five years, an order of protection – a penalty intended to protect victims of stalkers or domestic violence – will prevent her from campaigning against Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Ms. Canavan hopes that the court’s breach of her civil liberties and “heavy-handed” jail sentence backfire by triggering activists to convince as many restaurants as possible to drop foie gras.

Your Turn

Amber sacrificed her safety, freedom and financial security to expose the plight of animals exploited and killed for foie gras. Now, she needs help. Please make a tax deductible donation to her legal defense fund.


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London Activists Stage Provocative Disruptions Inside Restaurant that Serves Foie Gras

May 22, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

If you own a restaurant in London, you’d better think twice before serving foie gras. That is because London Vegan Actions, an animals rights group that “turns actions into victories,” could very well disrupt your diners – over and over – until you take it off the menu.

Disruptions inside of restaurants have triggered much debate within the animal rights community. Some activists say that loud disruptions alienate the target audiences; others argue that they prompt customers to consider what – or who – they are eating and that they trigger exasperated restaurants to stop serving the most controversial of foods.

Security guard expels one of the activists who staged disruption inside of Sketch

Security guard expels an animal rights activist who staged a disruption inside of Sketch, a restaurant in London that sells foie gras

After four weeks of disruptions, the restaurant Sketch, the group’s current target, continues to sell foie gras, and London Vegan Actions is showing no signs of backing down. After all, they argue, “you cannot even legally produce foie gras in the U.K. due to the cruelty, which is why 16 countries have banned its production.” Protests are planned on May 22nd and May 23rd.

Sketch restaurant is the target of animal rights protests because it sells foie gras

Sketch restaurant is the target of animal rights protests because it sells foie gras (photo: Karen Robinson, The Guardian)

Activists show video of foie gras production inside restaurant

Activists have displayed video of foie gras production inside of Sketch

A van filled with police officers arrives at at foie gras protest at Sketch restaurant in London

A van filled with police officers arrives at at foie gras protest at Sketch

In late April, Alexis Gauthier, the chef and owner of Gauthier restaurant, decided to take foie gras off of his menu after London Vegan Actions staged three disruptive protests.

Alexis Gauthier, the chef owner of Gauthier Restaurant in London, is dragged back into restaurant as he asks protesters if they are wearing leather shoes.

An angry customer at Gauthier accuses protesters of wearing leather shoes as his dining companion attempts to drag him into the restaurant

Foie gras, which is often described by activists as a “delicacy of despair,”  is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size. The pipes are inserted 12″ down their esophaguses three times daily in the weeks leading up to slaughter.

Gavage, force feeding

Gavage, the process by which the birds’ livers are fattened, is French for force feeding.

In 2013, the U.S.-based advocacy group Mercy For Animals used hidden cameras at the nation’s largest producer to document the abuse inherent in foie gras production:

London Vegan Actions isn’t the only group in the U.K. advocating on behalf of battered ducks and geese. Hertfordshire Animal Rights stopped the sale of foie gras at seven U.K. restaurants in 2014.

Your Turn

Please ask Sketch to take foie gras off the menu by sending an email to info@sketch.london, tweeting or posting a message on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

 


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California’s Foie Gras Ban Has Far Reaching Implications

October 15, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In a major victory for ducks, geese and their advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the California law banning the sale and production of foie gras. The Court’s decision sends a strong message to other states that they can, as  California Attorney General stated, pass laws that “prohibit the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare.”

Force feeding

Force feeding

Described by activists as a “delicacy of despair,” foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size. The pipes are inserted 12″ down their esophaguses three times daily in the weeks leading up to slaughter.

In 2013, Mercy For Animals used hidden cameras at the nation’s largest producer to document the abuse inherent in foie gras production:

The fight to ban foie gras has taken many turns. In Chicago, a 2006 ban on the sale of foie gras was reversed in 2008, representing a major setback for activists who lobbied tirelessly in support of the law. In England, on the other hand, the group Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at least six restaurants since August.

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in London

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in London

The Artisan Farmers Alliance, a trade association for America’s three foie gras producers, is working to curb bans on foie gras by “educating the public about our centuries-old farming practices” and by “defending the rights of consumers to make their own decisions about food.” Of course, it is the job of activists to defend the ducks and geese from animal exploiters who spin cruelty into freedom of choice.

Your Turn

Please sign the current petition to ban the production and importation of foie gras in Europe.


Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Shortest Animal Rights Campaign In History?

September 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Eight hours after an animal rights group asked its supporters to leave comments opposing foie gras on the Facebook wall of The Sopwell House, the well-known hotel and spa in England announced that it will remove foie gras from its restaurant’s menu. It was that easy.

“We have reconsidered our offerings, and this dish will now be removed by our Executive Head Chef. Kindly note that it will take a couple of weeks for our menus to be reprinted. However, please be reassured that we are no longer serving foie gras.”

Sopwell House ends sale of foie gras

Sopwell House to remove foie gras from menu

In response to the news, Hertfordshire Animal Rights spokesperson Tod Bradbury said, “We would like to publicly thank Sopwell House for listening to the concerns of the public. Foie gras does not belong in a civilised society – it is undeniably cruel. We hope Sopwell House can be an inspiration to other purveyors of foie gras in the area.”

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size.

foie gras force feeding

Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at five restaurants in England since August and intends to continue its campaign until the region is foie gras free. In the United States, the production and sale of foie gras were banned in California in 2012. A similar ban was passed in Chicago in 2006, but it was overturned in 2008.

In his 2011 book The Foie Gras Wars, Chicago Tribune reporter Marc Caro profiled the Humane League of Philadelphia’s multi-year campaign to stop the sale of foie gras in local restaurants. According to activist Nick Cooney, who ran the campaign, between 80% – 85% of the targeted restaurants ultimately removed foie gras from the menu.

foie gras wars

Your Turn

As evidenced by the victories in England, California and Philadelphia, grassroots activism works. If you live near a restaurant that serves foie gras, then you can employ the same tactics used by Hertfordshire Animal Rights and the Humane League to campaign against the sale of foie gras. To learn more, please watch Farm Sanctuary’s undercover investigation of a foie gras farm.


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Victory: Renowned Restaurant Takes Foie Gras Off the Menu

September 16, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

A well-known restaurant in England that accused animal-rights activists of blackmail for protesting its sale of foie gras has taken the “delicacy of despair” off the menu.

The owner of the Bricklayers Arms stands by his right to sell foie gras based on “the laws of supply and demand,” but he will no longer serve it because of the “hatred that has been directed at the pub via social media, email and phone calls” and a six person protest in front of the restaurant on Saturday.

Photo: hemeltoday.co.uk

Photo: hemeltoday.co.uk

Hertfordshire Animal Rights, which organized the campaign, thanked the owner for removing foie gras in spite of the fact that he is unwilling to acknowledge that force feeding ducks and geese through a tube inserted down their throats until their livers expand to 10 times their natural size is reason alone to take it off the menu.

Opinion

Author Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The success of Hertfordshire Animal Rights’ anti-foie gras campaign gives credence to these words of wisdom which have inspired and galvanized activists to fight for the animals, even in the toughest of circumstances.


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