Due to animal welfare concerns, King Charles III prohibits foie gras from Buckingham Palace and all royal palaces. Could a mycelium-based foie gras substitute for the animal product?
The animal protection organization Peta has confirmed that King Charles has banned foie gras from all royal homes.
When he was the prince of Wales, the King withdrew the contentious cuisine from his royal homes. Now, according to Peta, the Royal Household has confirmed in a letter that this policy has been extended to Buckingham Palace and all other royal houses.
As a token of appreciation, the organization will send the King a gift basket of faux-foie gras prepared by vegan chef Alexis Gauthier.
King Charles' decision to reduce the size of the monarchy could be bad news for the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward.
A Peta spokesman stated, “As Prince of Wales, King Charles withdrew foie gras from his royal homes. For foie gras, ducks and geese are force-fed until their livers swell up to ten times their normal size before being murdered.
“Peta has now obtained assurance that His Majesty's humanitarian policy extends to Buckingham Palace and all other royal homes,” the statement reads.
Elisa Allen, vice president of Peta, stated, “Peta invites everyone to follow the King's example and omit foie gras from their holiday menus and beyond.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment, however, it is believed that the policy has been at the palace for several years. Foie Gras can be imported and sold within the United Kingdom, but its manufacturing is prohibited.
After Brexit, the United Kingdom had planned to prohibit its imports, but these plans are now expected to be abandoned. Peta is also advocating for the King to use animal-friendly faux fur instead of ermine fur garments during his coronation next year.
As Prince of Wales, the next King of England was a prominent advocate for animal welfare and withdrew foie gras from royal banquets. Additionally, he intends to keep two meat-free days per week to lessen his dietary environmental impact.
Foie gras production, but not sale or import, is now prohibited in the United Kingdom. At Balmoral, Sandringham, Windsor Castle, Hillsborough Castle, and Buckingham Palace, foie gras is prohibited.
Eliminating foie gras from the menu
Animal-rights organizations, such as PETA, have released heartbreaking undercover footage demonstrating how inhumane it is to force-feed birds to fatten their livers. Overfeeding leaves birds with holes in their throats, and many die prematurely due to damaged organs.
While the production of foie gras is obviously unpleasant, chefs cherish animal products. It has been the subject of a protracted legal struggle in California, where foie gras remains unavailable.
In 2012, California outlawed the manufacturing of liver obtained using inhumane means and forbade restaurants from selling or distributing it. However, the rule was invalidated in 2015 on the basis that the Poultry Products Inspection Act makes the regulation of food additives a federal responsibility.
In 2017, the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in California voted unanimously to reinstate the foie gras prohibition. In 2020, however, this court permitted Californian consumers to purchase foie gras produced outside of the state. Most recently, in May 2022, the court upheld this decision while rejecting objections to the 2012 statute.
To maintain momentum, PETA wrote a letter to United States President Joe Biden this week, requesting that he follow in the footsteps of King Charles by prohibiting the cruelly derived animal product before the holidays.
If King Charles can ban diseased livers from suffering birds from Buckingham Palace, we hope that President Biden would follow his example and ban foie gras from the White House, said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.
“Extending the holiday spirit of giving to geese and ducks would set a compassionate example for the entire country, and PETA will gladly give the President and his chefs some delicious and luscious imitation foie gras to sample,” she said.
Vegan foie gras on the rise
There is a vegan version of nearly anything today, even foie gras. The Better Meat Co. of California, which produces vegan goods utilizing Rhiza, a fast-growing, fungus-derived microbe, is one startup addressing the need for a kinder foie gras.
Instead of force-feeding birds, The Better Meat Co. of Sacramento, California feeds Rhiza a starch such as potatoes — or other upcycled agricultural byproducts — which then undergoes microbial fermentation to produce a meat-like base that can be used in a variety of applications, such as alternatives to beef, chicken, fish, caviar, and, as it turns out, foie gras.
Paul Shapiro, the co-founder of The Better Meat Co., addressed Buckingham Palace in a letter expressing gratitude for King Charles' historic ban on foie gras.
Shapiro remarked, “This compassionate ruling will undoubtedly create an important precedent and urge others to do the same.” “Although force-feeding birds to manufacture foie gras is prohibited in many countries and in my home state of California, I am pleased to inform you that it is now feasible to have the same delightful pleasure of foie gras without the use of birds. The Better Meat Co. has pioneered a process of microbial fermentation that produces a mycelium-based foie gras that satisfies the most discerning gourmets.”
Shapiro hopes that King Charles would consider serving cruelty-free foie gras from The Better Meat Co. in royal palaces to demonstrate that decadent foods may be enjoyed without harming animals.
Shapiro tells VegNews that other international leaders should follow in the footsteps of King Charles by eliminating foie gras from their official menus. “By harnessing the power of microbial fermentation, The Better Meat Co. can manufacture a poultry-free foie gras that is both delicious and compassionate for the royal palaces. Indeed, it is a delicacy worthy of a king.”
And if King Charles accepts, he will not be the first person to consume The Better Meat Company's vegan foie gras. Employees at the LinkedIn headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, experienced The Better Meat Co.'s take on foie gras and vegan turkey prepared using the same microbial fermentation magic earlier this year.