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 pipes 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 also kept in tiny cages or crowded sheds.
Since foie gras is made from the livers of only male ducks, all female ducklings—40 million of them each year in France alone—are considered useless to the industry and are tossed into grinders live 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 and don’t even realize it. Here’s how:
Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds’ skin, mostly in the chest region. These feathers are highly valued by companies that make down clothing, pillows, and comforters.
Although most down and other feathers are removed from ducks and geese during slaughter, some terrified birds’ feathers are painfully ripped out by the fistful multiple times while they are still ALIVE. There’s no way to know if the products you purchase came from live-plucked birds.
All this suffering takes place so that companies can make money from selling down.
What You Can Do to Help
When you’re shopping, check the tag on every item you pick up, and if says “down,” put it back on the rack! Making the compassionate choice be down-free will also ensure that you aren’t supporting cruel foie gras production.