How Buying Down Feathers Supports the Cruel Foie Gras Industry
Ever heard of foie gras? It means “fatty liver” in French—and it looks as gross as it sounds. It’s also a product of cruelty.
To produce foie gras, workers ram tubes down the throats of ducks and geese at least twice a day and pump grain and fat into their stomachs. This force-feeding causes the birds’ livers to swell to up to 10 times their normal size. Many birds have difficulty standing because their swollen livers distend their abdomens, and they may tear out their own feathers and attack each other out of stress. The birds are kept in crowded pens suspended over their own waste and aren’t given any access to water to bathe or swim in.
Since foie gras is made from the livers of only male ducks, female ducklings—40 million of them each year in France alone—are considered useless to the industry and are tossed into grinders alive so that their bodies can be processed into fertilizer or cat food. Seriously awful.
I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t eat foie gras! I’d never support something like that!” But many people are supporting this cruelty without even realizing it. Here’s how:
Buying products made with down feathers can support the foie gras and meat industries, because many producers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers as well. Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds’ skin, mostly in the breast region. These feathers are highly valued by companies that make down jackets, pillows, and comforters.
What You Can Do to Help Birds
When you’re shopping, check the tags, and if you see “down” listed, put the item back on the rack! Making the compassionate choice to be down-free will also ensure that you aren’t supporting cruel foie gras production.
For more information on how to shop for animal-free, vegan clothing, check this out.