Non-Veg Snobbery

All over the world gourmet foods due to their marketing hype of “superb luxury affordable by a select few” are consumed with relish by the snobbish. They include items such as caviar, oysters, bêche de mer (sea cucumber), salmon, tiger prawns, turbot (fish), fugu (Japanese puffer fish which is lethally poisonous if prepared incorrectly), loin/tenderloin/sirloin steak (horse/pig/cattle – particularly Kobe beef from Japanese Wagyu cattle), pâté de foie gras, bird’s nests, honey and truffles: all non-vegetarian, except for truffles (special tubers found at the root of chestnut and oak trees mainly in Mediterranean regions) which are gathered from the wild with the help of dogs or pigs, are usually fried in goose fat and used as a condiment for potatoes/eggs; now introduced as a topping on pizza.

Foreign companies and trade commissions have begun aggressively promoting their country’s products and exotic non-vegetarian foods have been widely introduced into India. Five-star hotels and restaurants organise food festivals focusing on cuisine from different lands and serve up a cornucopia of gourmet foods for “discerning customers” willing to pay whatever be the price. They utilise the services of foreign chefs and imported ingredients including meats like veal (calf meat) and beef, as well as unsuspected non-vegetarian items like cheese containing calf rennet. It is surprisingly how these items are passed off when calf slaughter is prohibited in India. Also magazines such as Hello get away with publishing recipes for veal.

The Indian arms of sea food trading entities sell a wide array of seafood products in ranges such as raw frozen, ready to fry and marinated. The “fresh frozen” (contradicting words) category consists of products like Atlantic salmon, Alaska Pollock, sear fish steaks, barracuda steaks, squid rings, scampi, black tiger prawns, silver and black pomfrets.

Beauty Without Cruelty was glad to have been instrumental in influencing the Government of India to eventually prohibit the import of shark fins, and the export of shark fins of all species of shark in 2015. Soup made of shark fins is considered a Chinese delicacy. “Finning” is catching, hacking off, and keeping the shark’s fins, and throwing away the amputated living shark’s body back into the water.

For years BWC wrote many protest letters to the Government about pâté de foie gras (paste made of diseased liver of ducks, geese or guinea fowls) imported from France and sold in India. Shockingly, till 2008 when BWC objected, pâté de foie gras was also found on the menu for First Class passengers on Air India flights.

The process of producing foie gras is called gavage and is extremely cruel: the birds are force fed two-
three times a day with a funnel pushed down their throats. A tube fed by a pneumatic or hydraulic pump could also be used to force food down the bird’s oesophagus. Those that survive the force-feeding resulting in their livers becoming 10 times their normal size and their abdomens expanding so much that they are unable to stand, walk or breathe normally, are after 100 days of torture slaughtered for their diseased livers to be made into pâté de foie gras.

Foie gras has been banned in many countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Israel and Argentina. And, in July 2012 American animal activists managed to ban its sales in California; earlier the cities of Chicago and San Diego banned it. Beauty Without Cruelty therefore hoped that the Government of India would also ban it. Eventually, that’s what happened: BWC wrote to the new Prime Minister, in response to which the Government of India promptly prohibited the import of Foie Gras in July 2014.

Foie gras is produced in France, Hungary, Bulgaria, USA, Canada, China, Belgium and Spain. In 2014 with the view of dodging China’s ban on import of foie gras, a French firm set up a farm to produce it within the country.

A market is also being created for other exotic meats of animals such as that of turkey, snail, crane, quail, partridge/tittar, migratory birds, bustard quail/bater/lava, pelican, grey leg goose, flamingo, common pochard, egret, monitor lizard/ghorpad, emu, ostrich (volaise), kangaroo, wallaby, pangolin, peacock, rabbit, hare, deer (venison), porcupine, wild boar, bison, dolphin — name them and they are made available as novelty foods. One doesn’t need much imagination to realise the conditions under which these poor creatures are specially bred, housed and slaughtered (in India or abroad), or, if they come under the purview of the wild life laws, illegally hunted and sold at exorbitant prices for the table.

Do not patronise establishments that serve such disgusting non-veg gourmet foods.

For detailed information on Gourmet Foods please read

Please see Non-Veg items on Menu Cards to know what it says and what it means

Page last updated on 16/03/15