PETA Guide to Ethical eating
The animal rights group looks at the real story behind some popular foodstuffs
\nFoie gras is made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of ducks and geese who have been cruelly force-fed. Force-feeding begins when the birds are between 8 and 10 weeks old. Ducks and geese raised for foie gras are subjected to gavage—every day, up to two kilograms of grain and fat are forced down the birds’ throats through a feeding tube. The mortality rate of birds raised for foie gras has been found to be as much as 20 times higher than that of birds raised normally, and carcasses show wing fractures and severe tissue damage to the throat muscles. Israel, Germany and other European nations have prohibited the production of foie gras, and force-feeding birds is prohibited in the U.K. and in Switzerland.
\nEvery day, fishers catch sharks, cut off their fins, and throw the still-living sharks back into the ocean to bleed to death. This happens to millions of sharks every year around the world, just so that their fins can end up in a bowl of soup. Sharks are being pushed closer to extinction—95 percent of many species’ populations have been killed since the 1970s.
\nWhile both male and female chickens can be raised for meat, only females can produce eggs, so every year, millions of male chicks are disposed of by being shoved into plastic bags and left to suffocate or being macerated live. They cannot be raised profitably as “broilers” or “fryers” because they have not been engineered to produce a lot of muscle. Conditions at egg factory farms are atrocious. Cage floors are made of wire mesh so waste falls from the upper tiers onto the chickens below. A single cage holds five to six hens packed tightly together, which doesn’t allow the birds to even spread one wing. Hens today lay about twice as many eggs per year as hens laid several decades ago, before factory farming. To keep the birds from harming each other in the packed living conditions, chickens have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade, without any painkillers.
\nScientists have determined that lobsters, like all animals, can feel pain. Also, when kept in tanks, they may suffer from stress associated with confinement, low oxygen levels, and crowding. Most scientists agree that a lobster’s nervous system is quite sophisticated. Anyone who has ever boiled a lobster alive knows that when dropped into scalding water, lobsters whip their bodies wildly and scrape the sides of the pot in a desperate attempt to escape.
\nMany fish who are used for caviar production are only stunned before they’re slit open and have their ovaries extracted, as some believe that caviar tastes best when it’s harvested from a live animal.
\nKopi luwak is made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet. To make this coffee, the civets are typically snatched from their homes and life in the wild to be imprisoned alone in tiny, barren cages. They're deprived of everything that is natural and important to them, including freedom, exercise, space—even real food. They bite at the cage bars, turn in circles, and go insane from being imprisoned with no escape. In the wild, civets climb trees to reach the ripe fruit, but in captivity, they are just fed bins full of coffee berries, far more than they would ever eat naturally, leading to nutrient deficiencies. While kopi luwak is often advertised as "wild–sourced," farmers told a PETA Asia investigator that it would be nearly impossible to produce exclusively wild–sourced civet coffee and that the industry knowingly mislabels coffee from captive animals.