I have a terrible cold right now. Everyone else in the office has been wearing SARS masks when they talk to me so they don’t get infected by my cough of death. What’s worse is that I have a hole in my stomach, so I have to go to the hospital today to get a tiny camera at the end of a tube shoved down my throat. Not to be the most cliche person ever, but I can’t help but think, “This is nothing compared to what animals go through.”
The procedure I am going to undergo is pretty uncomfortable, but when I look at photos and video footage of ducks and geese used for foie gras, I realize that a few hours spent on a hospital bed is so trivial in the grand scheme of things. The term “foie gras” literally means “fatty liver.” It is the bloated liver of male ducks and geese who are force-fed enormous quantities of food until their livers expand well beyond their normal size. Workers ram pipes down the birds’ throats two or three times a day and pump as much as two pounds of grain and fat into the animals’ stomachs while the birds desperately struggle to get away. The pipes puncture many birds’ throats, sometimes causing them to bleed to death or suffer painful wounds. On some farms, a single worker may be expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day. Because of this rush, animals are often treated roughly and left injured and suffering.
Many birds have difficulty standing because of their engorged livers, and they may tear out their own feathers and cannibalize each other because of stress. Undercover footage taken at Sonoma Foie Gras shows rats eating the flesh of live ducks who are too bloated and crippled to defend themselves.
This torture lasts 12 to 21 days and causes the birdsâ€™ livers to bloat until they are up to 12 times their normal size. Because of the injuries and disease caused by force-feeding, the death rates on foie gras farms are between 10 and 25 times higher than the mortality rates on other duck and geese farms, and carcasses of animals from these farms show wing fractures and severe tissue damage to the throat muscles. For more information and to see what you can do to help, check out GoVeg.com.
The “R080T5 N0T R0D305″ t-shirt design was so popular that I made it into an avatar for all your interweb functions like livejournal or MSN. I also made two new ones that are the best thing since Chuck Norris jokes.