By David Hewitt
From the get-go, I want to stress that I love my late father. I miss him more than words can say.
However, I need to bring forth a child-hood memory about him, with a very specific duck theme, to get this article rolling. I’m quite sure he wouldn’t mind.
When I was a kid, my parents would from time-to-time take me out to Sunday-lunch at a nearby village, Bewdley, in England. Bewdley is a quaint Georgian town that straddles the River Severn and has a beautiful duck population. Often times we’d feed the ducks before we headed off to the restaurant – something the three of us loved to do.
Now at that age, I wasn’t a vegan (although of course I wish I had been), but I did pick up on the one time Dad went on to order duck in the restaurant. With the innocence that only 8-year olds have, I delivered a zinger without really knowing that I was doing so:
“Dad, why did you feed the ducks earlier and say how pretty they were but now you want to eat one?”
Cue lots of awkward inter-parental side-ways glances, while Dad went somewhat flushed from the collar up, as I tried to hold my knife and fork the right way and longingly eyed up the dessert-trolley.
Out of the mouths of babes, right?
My late father’s cognitive dissonance aside, our aquatic based feathery-friends truly get a raw deal. Somehow, humanity has, with it’s usual breath-taking arrogance and uncanny ability to make stuff up, peddled the sanitized myth that ducks and geese get a better deal than chickens.
Chickens get an awful deal. But so too do ducks and geese – it’s just that their carnage has a lower profile.
Horrifically, over 30 million ducks are killed each year to be eaten. That’s 81,000 a day. Human deaths in any way at 81,000 a day would be booming headlines for months. Ducks? “Meh, just another animal related statistic and there’s plenty more where they came from.”
The poor birds are held in cramped, unsanitary duck-farms, never to see the light of with an ultimate fate of death. Nothing more than a commodity to be used and abused.
As if that wasn’t obscene enough, how about the monstrosity that is Pate de Foie Gras? Ducks and geese are force fed pound of grain a day, with the forced insertion of tubes down their throats, to cause a gross swelling of the liver. When swollen enough, the bird is slaughtered and the liver turned into pate.
This is an abomination.
But the misery-fest doesn’t stop there, oh no. Humanity’s ability to inflict suffering on it’s animal neighbours is almost limitless. Live-plucking of geese for down, the softer inner layer of feathers, is a wide-spread practice. This is a terrifying and extremely painful process for the birds to go through and is utterly devoid of any ethical merit.
Consequently, this too is an abomination.Chances are, at least 50% of bedding products advertised as “containing real down” were from live-plucked birds.
So, a discerning customer committed to cruelty-free purchases, the best thing to do is to avoid all products containing down and leave nothing to chance.
And then of course, there’s the issue of eating duck eggs. Like any bird egg, you’re eating a particularly unsavoury waste product. Then there’s the fact that duck eggs are laden with even more fat and cholesterol than chicken eggs. All of which should be irrelevant in any event as humanity shouldn’t be “choosing” to consume bird eggs in the first place as a. the eggs really aren’t there to be taken in the first place (who hands out that right?) and b. it reinforces the widely held misconception that all animals ultimately are simply a “thing” or a “product” to be exploited remorselessly.
My 8-year old self knew deep-down that how we treat ducks and other birds was wildly unfair. 40 years later, and it’s still wildly unfair. It truly boggles the mind to think how these nightmarish foods and products were ever dreamt up in the first place. However, tragically, they were. And it is only through a full embrace of veganism that these horrors can one day be stopped for good.