With the holidays season, it is all the agribusiness industry that sets in motion. Industrial have to respond to the overabundance of products from animal exploitation. If in average a French person, for example, throws 20% of food to the trash, during the holidays season, this figure goes up to 80%. Besides waste, the ethic question is still at heart of discussions. Exploitation, animal suffering, threatened species… Christmas is not a party for animal.
Foie gras: a high-end suffering
Since the 80s, the foie gras consumption in France was multiplied by 5. The rise of the standard of living significantly favored the expansion of this food so dear to the French culinary heritage, so much so that France became at the same time the first consumer and producer worldwide of foie gras. With a permanent growing demand, the intensive production methods have little regards for animal suffering. Therefore, the growing production was also accompanied by growing criticism and shocking videos causing the madness of advocates of the animals when it comes to unhuman fabrication methods.
The liver of females being too small, at birth, only male ducklings are selected for fattening. Thus around 35% of young birds would be wiped out immediately, most of the time crushing. Once the selection is done for ducks and male geese, the fattening torture begins. A pneumatic pump injects up to 1 kilogram of pulp daily directly into their stomach for 2 to 3 weeks. In order to improve the performance and so that their liver grows more, the animals are stranded in narrow cages. This way, animals gain weight very easily. Their liver, more and more fat and ill, will reach at the end of the fattening process around ten times its initial volume. Despite this plight, four French out of five ‘cannot live without’ foie gras at Christmas. Given the enthusiasm for foie gras and the strong reactions caused by videos shot by associations (specially the one from L214) many alternatives have emerged.
Salmon: the extravaganza
In 2016, 72% of French thought that salmon was a staple for holidays and this figure is constantly growing. According to the Union for French smoked salmon, France is the first ranked in smoked salmon consumption in Europe with close to 37 000 tonnes per year in front of Germany and Great-Britain. Given the overconsumption, the Atlantic wild salmon stocks are at a very low and dangerous level.
Pollution, overfishing, aqauculture… Since the 19th century, the overexploitation of salmon saw the disappearance of the species in many regions worldwide. Often praised as being a source of omega 3, salmon is actually harmful for he health. Under an artificial luminous stimulation and fatten during breeding, salmon contains traces of sanitizers and antibiotics that can have harmful long-term effects on the health.
From an ecological point of view the intensive fishing has a destructive effect on marine resources. Last October, Norway, global leader in salmon breeding announced the opening of the first offshore aquaculture farm in the world. Built in China, the structure of 250 000 cubic meters capacity, will receive 1.1 million of salmons. At the 2050 horizon, the biggest producer of the world hopes to multiply by five its current production.
Face aux conséquences écologiques et animalières, on peut trouver l’alternative que représente le saumon végétal en grande surface. Les algues sont aussi un bon moyen de remplacer les produits de la mer pendant les fêtes. Leur goût iodé rivalisera avec les traditionnelles huîtres, de quoi se faire plaisir sans cruauté.
Massive picking: snails will soon be an empty shell
In average in the hexagon, 424 million snails are eaten every year. At Christmas, two thirds of the French production are consumed and for the cause: France, biggest consumer of the world of these gastropods has difficulties in responding to the demand. The Burgundy snail, main species in the hexagon to be transformed into 150 million of prepared pieces was wiped out amongst others by pesticides and weed killer and also by the partial loss of their habitat.
Since the 20th century, the species also suffers from massive picking which has as a direct consequence to make Burgundy snails a threatened species.
Recycling vegetal litter, such as dead wood or poisonous mushrooms, snail is yet essential to ecosystem and is also a precious indicator of soils quality. Nevertheless, the illegal picking in France does not weaken and is considerably putting the species in peril.
What is hiding behind the key piece of holiday meals?
In this festive period, it is almost 2.5 million of turkeys that are killed and then eaten. Traditional key piece of the meal, its consumption was multiplied by 6 in 30 years leading to an overexploitation that violates the animal’s welfare rules. The PETA association confirms and regret that “in French slaughterhouses in 2015, 48 892 000 turkeys were bred and killed as well as 28 288 000 guinea fowl. 97% of these turkeys lived in farms where the density was 8 birds per square meter”.
Beak-trimmed very young, these poultries fattened intensively which modified their growth and caused many fractures because of their excessive weight. Confined in batteries, turkeys only lived for 15 weeks before being killed. Considering this suffering, solutions are possible. The Seitan (vegetal food made from wheat protein) is a great alternative to poultry.
If animal exploitation is in significant increase during holidays season, the fight for animal suffering is permanent. According to the United Nations for nutrition and agriculture, the meat industry would be responsible for 14,5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide! Choosing a vegetal alternative is therefore an ethical choice as well as an ecological gesture.