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UK Parliament Debates Import Ban on Foie Gras

In the heart of Westminster, animal defenders in the UK protested the importation of foie gras. Shortly after, Members of Parliament gave impassioned speeches, calling for the UK Government to heed public support for an import ban. The Parliamentary debate was featured in headlines around the world, including a front-page spread in The Times.
October 31, 2023 Updated: January 12, 2024
Foie Gras Signatures UK Foie Gras Signatures UK

In the heart of Westminster–London’s historical and political hub–UK animal defenders demanded an end to foie gras imports. 

While standing in front of the iconic Big Ben last week, protesters carried distressing video footage of foie gras production. They even displayed a ‘gavage tube,’ an instrument used to force-feed ducks and geese. 

Others distributed plant-based foie gras, meticulously crafted using a recipe from Michelin-starred French chef Alexis Gauthier. This sparked engaging conversations with onlookers who were outraged by the foie gras industry’s cruelty.

Moments later, Members of the UK Parliament (MPs) took a stand on this issue. MP Giles Watling passionately addressed Parliament, urging accountability for the Government’s failure to ban foie gras imports. Watling highlighted that King Charles himself had ceased serving foie gras at Royal residences. 

The Parliamentary debate was broadcast live on Parliament TV, with coverage appearing on the front page of The Times. The topic was also covered by The Independent, The Mirror, Yahoo, MSN, and other well-known outlets from the UK to Malaysia. 

What is Foie Gras?

Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is a luxury food produced by force-feeding ducks and geese to induce fatty liver disease. Workers repeatedly insert long metal tubes down the birds’ throats, pumping them full of calorie-dense food, and continuing this force-feeding for several weeks before slaughter. 

During investigations into foie gras farms in Europe, Animal Equality found birds with bloodied bodies and broken beaks, confined to cramped pens and wire cages. Animals in this industry often suffer from infections and organ failure. 

Foie gras production has been banned in the UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Argentina, Australia, and Israel. India became the first country to ban both imports and production in 2014. 

UK Government Fails to Address Public Concerns

While it has been illegal to produce foie gras in the UK for over ten years, businesses can still import it from other countries. By selling foie gras to UK consumers, stores and restaurants continue to profit from cruelty. 

Spanish Investigation Foie Gras

A 2023 YouGov poll showed that 86% of UK respondents (excluding the ‘don’t know’ responses) supported an import ban. Despite public opinion, the Government has shelved a bill which would have banned the import and sale of foie gras. It officially withdrew its support for the ban this year. 

Abigail Penny–Executive Director of Animal Equality in the UK–contacted her local MP, Giles Watling. Watling called a Westminster Hall debate to bring the matter to Parliament. 

Animal Equality and volunteers filled every seat in Parliament’s public gallery to show public concern for this extreme animal suffering. 

Members of Parliament Speak Out Against Cruelty

In his Parliamentary address, Giles Watling called out the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs for failing to consider both citizens and animals. Throughout his speech, he referred to a briefing prepared by Animal Equality. 

Referring to King Charles’ ban on foie gras in Royal residences, Watling expressed his desire to do the same in all Parliamentary buildings. Other MPs joined in the conversation. 

If we deem foie gras too cruel to be produced in this country, we should also agree that, by definition, it is too cruel to be imported.

Henry Smith, MP

With a nod to Animal Equality’s team in the gallery, another MP chimed in: 

Ducks and geese are sentient animals; they have feelings. Imagine all of us stuck in a cage with someone opening our mouths and stuffing stuff down our throats—God, how awful that would be! We have to get rid of this stuff.

Bob Stewart, MP

MP Ruth Jones of the opposition party explained that her political party had attempted to ban foie gras imports in 2020. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs denounced the “horrible cruelty” and claimed she would never purchase foie gras. 

The Government has claimed animal welfare is a “huge Government priority” and that it is gathering information for next steps on a ban. 

Take a Stand Against Foie Gras

While foie gras is legal in most US states, citizens across the nation have expressed their concerns about animal cruelty. 

California businesses can no longer produce or sell foie gras within its borders. Meanwhile, New York City passed a ban on foie gras sales in 2019. However, industry challenges have prevented it from going into effect. 

Animal Equality has joined citizens in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, to discuss foie gras bans with their city councils. Over 100,000 concerned citizens have even signed Animal Equality’s petition to ban foie gras across the United States. Will you join them today?

You can also take a stand against animal cruelty by replacing foie gras and other animal products with plant-based foods. Rediscover your love for food with the help of Love Veg, a free resource for everything plant-based. 

Duck in a foie gras farm

PROTECT DUCKS

Even before hatching from their eggs, ducklings communicate with their close‑knit families.

Protect these families by eating plant‑based and ditching animal products.


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