New York City may ban foie gras on the grounds of animal cruelty, thanks to a bill introduced by Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Lower Manhattan).
If passed, the ban violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor, which includes a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail for each offense. “[Foie Gras] is not part of the diet of everyday New Yorkers,” Rivera told the New York Post. “Less than 1 percent of all New York City restaurants serve it. This is truly a luxury item.”
Rivera believes that the “timing is right,” considering the Supreme Court recently struck down a challenge to reverse California’s foie gras ban.
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“New York City has a long history of opposing animal cruelty, [yet] there are few factory farming practices crueler,” said Allie Feldman Taylor, head of the group Voters for Animal Rights.
The Cruel Nature of Foie Gras
The staple of French fine dining, which translates to “fatty liver,” has a controversial means of production that Riversa said the city has tolerated for “far too long.” To make it, ducks and geese are force-fed a high-fat diet via a metal feeding tube stuck down their throats until their livers expand.
Because of its inherent cruelty, California has had a ban in place since 2004, which gained media attention last December when e-commerce giant Amazon violated the law. Last April, Postmates agreed to stop deliveries of foie gras. Production bans are in place in several countries, including Argentina, Australia, Germany, the UK, and other EU nations.
Can Foie Gras Be Made Vegan?
An end to the animal-based foie gras doesn’t necessarily mean an end to a fatty pate.
Some chefs have found a way to make a cruelty-free version. NYC-based vegan French restaurant Delice & Sarrasin serves a tahini-based foie gras. Classically trained French chef Alexis Gauthier, owner of London’s Gauthier Soho, makes vegan foie gras from a blend of lentils, walnuts, shallots, and mushrooms.
The NYC foie gras ban bill is currently being reviewed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Rivera is confident that he’ll endorse it due to his “strong track record of supporting animal rights issues.”
Mayoral spokesperson Eric Phillips said that de Blasio’s office will “certainly review” the bill.