Animal Equality is an international animal advocacy organisation that is dedicated to defending animals through public education, campaigns and investigations. Animal Equality works to achieve long-term social change, where all animals are treated with compassion and respect.
An overwhelming majority of Brits support a foie gras import ban – 79% of those who expressed an opinion – according to a YouGov poll conducted in June 2018*. This is up from 77% in June 2017.
This rise in support for an import ban coincides with increased awareness about the invasive force-feeding process behind foie gras. In the same 2018 poll, 65% of respondents were aware of the animal welfare concerns over foie gras production, up from 61% in June 2017. It is clear that when people know the brutal reality behind this ‘delicacy’, they believe it has no place on our shores.
Rachael Maskell MP supports a #FoieGrasFreeGB
The 2018 poll also revealed that fewer than 1 in 10 Brits (9%) consumed foie gras in the past 12 months, and the majority of those who did ate it only once (3%) or twice (2%) in the year. After learning how foie gras is produced, 22% of those who had consumed it in the past 12 months said they will no longer eat it and 12% said they would reduce their consumption.
Perhaps surprisingly, consumption was highest in the younger age groups, with 87% of 18-24 year olds and 86% of 25-34 year olds not eating it in the past 12 months, compared to 93% for those 55+. This coincides with lower awareness of how foie gras is produced in the younger group (only 46% of those 18 to 24 were aware) compared to older respondents (76% of those 45+ were aware).
Justin Tomlinson MP shows his support for a UK import ban on foie gras
Last month Defra Minister George Eustice confirmed that there are no barriers to a foie gras import ban under WTO rules as foie gras production is incompatible with our domestic animal welfare laws. We would therefore be free to implement an import ban on the day we leave the EU.
We will continue to pressure the Government to commit to a ban which takes effect the day that we leave the EU. Add your voice – sign the petition!
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,120 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 20th June 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
One year ago we launched our campaign for a #FoieGrasFreeGB and it is hard to believe just how much closer that prospect seems today.
In just 12 months we have amassed over 88,000 signatures on our petition calling for a foie gras import ban post-Brexit. This is largely thanks to the compassionate celebrities who have supported us and shared the petition, including Ricky Gervais, Evanna Lynch, Chris Packham, Amanda Abbington and Peter Egan.
We have made great political progress as well. Soon after we launched the campaign, Kate Hoey MP put forward an Early Day Motion calling on Parliament to ban foie gras imports. This helped put the issue on politicians’ radars. In the following months we worked with animal-friendly MPs from all parties to push it up the political agenda.
In February 2018 Labour announced that it would ban foie gras imports as part of its Animal Welfare Plan, and just a few days later Michael Gove – Secretary of State for the Environment – said that he would also consider it after we leave the EU. As encouraging as Mr Gove’s statement was, we are calling for an import ban to be passed now and enacted on the day that we leave the EU. This disgustingly cruel trade should not continue even one day longer than necessary!
So we persisted. On 29th March, marking one year until our departure from the EU, we delivered 70,000 signatures to Defra calling for a foie gras-free Great Britain – with the help of Bill Oddie, Britain’s best-known birder. Despite torrential rain, we were also joined by MPs Andrea Jenkyns, Sandy Martin, Sir David Amess, Kerry McCarthy and Baroness Jenny Jones.
In May we brought animal welfare experts Professor Donald Broom and vet Emma Milne, who lives in France herself, to Parliament to outline the severe welfare problems inherent in foie gras production and why Britain must end its import.
Two weeks ago Henry Smith MP led an adjournment debate in Parliament where he made a passionate and powerful speech calling for an import ban, which you can watch below. He received strong support from Heidi Allen and Kerry McCarthy, who both highlighted our current double standards for allowing the import and sale of a product that causes such great animal suffering that its production is banned under our own welfare laws.
Henry Smith MP Adjournment Debate on the banning of foie gras imports - YouTube
We were extremely encouraged by the response from the Minister George Eustice who confirmed that our departure from the EU does present an opportunity for a foie gras import ban and that we would face no barriers under World Trade Organisation laws. Sadly, he stopped short of committing to a ban, so our campaign continues!
Animal Equality has today released shocking scenes of animal abuse filmed on Fir Tree pig farm in Lincolnshire, which is owned by Elsham Linc – one of Britain’s largest pig producers.
The investigation, which came on the back of an anonymous tip-off, revealed serious and repeated violent abuse of the animals by several members of staff, including:
• Kicking pigs in the face and head, often violently and repeatedly, with over 100 incidents
of kicking recorded in 10 days
• Jabbing pigs repeatedly with the tines of a mucking out fork
• Transporting an injured pig in the bucket of a tractor and hitting it repeatedly (by
kicking and with a gate) when it couldn’t move into a pen
• Spraying marker paint directly up a pig’s nose
• Slamming gates on pigs’ heads
• Hitting pigs in the face and head with heavy plastic boards (pig boards)
• Workers laughing about the abuse and swearing at pigs
• Leaving a ‘downed’ pig without veterinary care for 48 hours before shooting it
Beaten for Bacon - YouTube
Investigators made multiple visits to Fir Tree Farm – which holds 10,000 pigs – between 1st- 27th April, 2018, and placed hidden cameras in the buildings where violence had been reported. They also documented dozens of pigs with severe tail biting wounds, some critically infected, as well as many heavily scarred pigs and several with hernias.
Animal Equality has passed all of the evidence to the RSPCA, which is investigating. We understand that several workers have been dismissed and we expect them to face the full force of the law for this sickening abuse which, without the courage of the whistleblower and our investigators, would still be happening today.
Consumers can help end this cruelty by trying the increasing variety of plant-based foods available in shops and restaurants - which are often healthier than meat as well as cruelty-free. Check out www.loveveg.uk to get started!
This is the third time that Animal Equality has filmed workers violently abusing animals on British farms. In 2016 a worker on Pyrland dairy farm in Somerset was filmed slamming newborn calves to the floor and kicking cows in the face just hours after they had given birth. He pled guilty to two cruelty charges in April 2017. In 2012 two workers were filmed beating piglets to death with a metal bar on Harling Farm in Norfolk. Both men pled guilty to cruelty charges and one was sent to prison for 18 weeks.
On Wednesday 2nd May, we held a reception at the House of Commons in support of our campaign for a Foie Gras-Free GB, calling for an import ban of this cruel delicacy when we exit the European Union.
Henry Smith MP, our host for the evening, opened the event with a warm welcome and encouragement for the campaign, which he thinks has “a very good chance” of success.
Dr Toni Shephard, Animal Equality’s UK Executive Director then explained the background to the campaign using evidence from a 2011 investigation filmed in France and Spain, highlighting the devastating plight of ducks and geese used in the production of foie gras.
Emma Milne, the TV veterinarian, author and animal welfare campaigner spoke passionately about why Foie Gras is so inherently cruel and should therefore be banned in this country. She now resides in France so also spoke of the growing movement there against foie gras.
Finally, Professor Donald Broom, Colleen Macleod Professor of Animal Welfare (Emeritus) at the University of Cambridge gave a detailed account of the process by which foie gras is produced, taking us from birth to slaughter. It’s not only the practice of gavage (or force-feeding) which causes pain and suffering to millions of, primarily, ducks but also the appalling conditions in which they’re kept and obvious fear when approached by the workers. He also debunked some of the arguments for foie gras, such as tradition.
We were grateful to have many of our supporters there, including donors, volunteers, journalists, sector colleagues Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, HSI UK, Animal Aid, and FAIRR, the actor Peter Egan, and MPs Sir David Amess and Kerry McCarthy, in addition to the speakers mentioned above.
Almost 75,000 people have already signed the Animal Equality petition calling for a Foie Gras-Free GB, and 77% of respondents in a YouGov Poll carried out in June 2017 were supportive of a ban. Furthermore, Michael Gove MP has indicated that he is willing to halt the import of foie gras, and Labour has included this as a pledge in their recently published Animal Welfare Plan. We are therefore in a strong position to make this dream a reality come March 2019.
As part of Animal Law Week, Sharon Nuñez discusses defending animals around the world in a talk at Harvard Law School.
Animal Equality's co-founder and president, Sharon Nunez, joined Harvard Law School students at this year's Animal Law Week. As an organization working hard across eight countries, Animal Equality wanted to share our strategic approach. We aimed to share the situation of animals in the countries we work in and what we are doing to help them.
Currently, more than 56 billion farmed animals are raised and killed for food every year - and this figure doesn't even include fish. While more than 94% of farmed animals killed for American consumers are chickens!
A disparity exists between the number of farmed animals killed each year and the number of resources available to help them. More donations are given to animals killed in shelters, for fashion, and in labs. However, farmed animals suffer at staggeringly higher rates than these animals.
Animal Law Week at HLS | Sharon Nuñez, "Defending Animals Around the World" - YouTube
Animal Equality is an Effective Altruist organization, so our goal is to assure each and every person who supports our work, staff, volunteers, and donors, to be assured that we are doing as much as we can to reduce as much suffering as possible.
Even when images are obtained secretly and show shocking, but legal conditions, they may be published – this very important verdict was passed by the German Federal Court Of Justice in Karlsruhe today. The company Fürstenhof GmbH had filed a complaint against the publication of such an investigation after the German TV station MDR aired images from an organic egg farm in 2012 – images that revealed the truth behind the supposed "organic idyll".
Despite the fact that the company is certified as "organic", the pictures were devastating: hens with purulent inflammations and emaciated bodies – clearly visible because the birds barely carried any feathers on their bodies. In between them were dead animals. The German TV station MDR published images, obtained by the German organisation Animal Rights Watch (ARIWA) from an organic egg farm which is part of the farmers group Fürstenhof GmbH, in 2012. The ensuing litigation was finalised today by the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe: a verdict speaking in favour of press freedom and investigative journalism, but also of consumers' right to know the truth behind the livestock industry and animal welfare.
Following the distribution of the investigation, Fürstenhof tried to inhibit any further release of the recordings. It sued the MDR for omission. Up to the Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, courts ruled in favour of the company. The recordings had been made secretly and showed conditions that were legal for the most part. They were largely in line with EU eco-legislation – despite the obvious suffering of the animals.
“Organic” also means animal suffering
During the appeal hearing at the Federal Court of Justice last March, it became apparent that the secretly taken recordings of livestock farms could be justified, according to the assessment of the Karlsruhe judges. After all, these conditions that have been uncovered and continue to be uncovered by the investigations of animal rights organizations such as ARIWA may be legal, but they by no means correspond with the images of the happy animals the industry is promising the consumer through advertising.
Animal welfare is of public interest
Today's judgment of the Federal Court Of Justice was clear: The pictures from the farm may be distributed, as the publication corresponds to the legitimate "interest of the public in general" and the "right to freedom of speech and media". Furthermore, the Federal Court Of Justice announced that the recordings of the investigation "inform the viewer correctly": "The TV station’s coverage is critically discussing the mass production of organic animal products, considering the aspects of consumer information as well as animal welfare and shows the discrepancy between the image many consumers believe in, given by producers or producer groups such as the applicant [Fürstenhof GmbH], of highly ethical production standards on the one hand and the actual production circumstances on the other."
Chris Packham, Ricky Gervais and Evanna Lynch also join calls for an import ban
Britain’s best-known birder and national treasure, Bill Oddie OBE, joined MPs and Animal Equality campaigners to call on Michael Gove to ‘Make Britain Foie Gras-free’ as we handed over 70,000 signatures backing an import ban post-Brexit. The event was held on March 29th marking exactly one year until our departure from the EU.
MPs Andrea Jenkyns, Sandy Martin, Sir David Amess, Kerry McCarthy and Baroness Jenny Jones joined the event to show their support for a ban.
Animal Equality has documented the extreme suffering of ducks and geese on dozens of foie gras farms in France and Spain and launched the petition in June 2017 after a YouGov poll found overwhelming support for a UK import ban on foie gras - 77% of those who expressed an opinion*.
Bird enthusiast Bill Oddie OBE said: “Whenever Britons call themselves ‘a nation of animal lovers’ I have assumed this means that we prefer our creatures healthy, well cared for and – in most cases - alive. There are few more grotesquely cruel so called ‘traditions’ than the production of Foie Gras, which entails what amounts to prolonged torture of living geese and ducks. We may not produce it in Britain, but we certainly consume it. You can buy foie gras in Britain’s affluent food stores and expensive restaurants. It is often referred to as a ‘gourmet delicacy’. It is in fact an abomination. Definitely NOT the food of a nation of animal lovers.”
The campaign is also backed by naturalist Chris Packham who said: “To imagine so many ducks and geese enduring a lifetime of cruelty and misery so a few people can eat a pate made from their diseased liver is mind-blowing, and terribly sad. UK imports of foie gras must be banned.”
Last month actor Evanna Lynch urged her Instagram followers to sign the petition, saying: “Foie Gras is a brutally cruel practice that needs to be stopped!”
Comedian Ricky Gervais also encouraged his fans to support the campaign and generated nearly 25,000 signatures in 72 hours.
You can still add your voice to the call for a #FoieGrasFreeGB at www.animalequality.org.uk/foie-gras. When we reach 100,000 signatures we will deliver them directly to No. 10.
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,079 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 7th June 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Each year, hundreds of millions of chickens suffer tremendously on farms that raise chickens for McDonald’s menu items. These birds are bred to be so unnaturally big their own legs can’t support their weight. They are crammed into dark sheds and trapped in filth, unable to engage in most natural behaviors. These horrific conditions are unacceptable.
The chickens raised and killed for McDonald’s live miserable lives. They grow so large so fast that their legs can’t support their own bodies. Neither can their organs - the birds often suffer heart attacks as a result of their unnatural rapid growth. These birds, bred for their parts such as “breasts” and “wings,” suffer leg deformities and constant pain so severe they can barely walk.Tens of thousands of oversized chickens are crammed together inside dark sheds without much room to move. Rarely able to engage in most natural behaviors such as perching, pecking or dust-bathing, these normally-curious baby birds rot in boredom.
The birds’ litter is rarely changed, forcing these chickens to sit, eat, and sleep in their own waste. Because the birds are too heavy to lift off the ground, the ammonia-laden litter burns the birds’ bellies, causing feather loss and boils. The putrid air stings the birds’ eyes.
As one of the world’s most notable brands, McDonald’s has the power to eliminate the cruelest farming practices used by its producers and reduce the suffering of millions of birds.
Urge McDonald's to improve the lives of chickens by signing THIS petition.
Animal Equality has joined a coalition of groups to educate the public about the cruelty endured by the millions of chickens in McDonald’s supply chain. We will be organizing grassroots activities, online and on the ground, to show McDonald’s that its consumers overwhelmingly support the company eliminating the cruelest farming practices used by its producers to reduce the suffering of animals.
We invite anyone interested in helping these animals to join our national network of volunteers called “Animal Protectors.” Animal Protectors take small, easy online actions--such as sending emails or making social media posts--that add up to a big difference for animals. Please sign up HERE.
Today we have released our latest investigation which reveals scenes of severe animal suffering on a Dorset farm supplying ‘Big & Fresh’ eggs stocked by major UK retailers. Hidden camera footage reveals the caged hens were only checked-on once in four days by farm staff, a clear violation of welfare laws.
Animal Equality investigators visited Walston Poultry Farm (East Down site), near Blandford Forum in Dorset, four times between January and March 2018 and found:
· 80,000 hens in each giant shed, all locked in ‘colony cages’ stacked seven tiers high
· Many birds suffering from severe feather loss - some nearly bald - with red, raw skin
· Dead birds left in cages with the living, some being cannibalised
· Birds with visible wounds from being pecked by cage mates
· Dead birds left lying on walkways next to cages with the living
· Tubs holding dozens of dead birds left in the sheds overnight
· Failure to inspect all birds daily, in violation of welfare regulations
Caged hens suffering for Big & Fresh eggs - YouTube
Around half a million birds are housed in eight windowless sheds on this site, laying around 140 million eggs a year for the UK's largest egg producer – Noble Foods – which operates multiple brands including Big & Fresh (eggs from caged hens) and the free-range Happy Egg Company. Noble Foods is the subject of an ongoing campaign by The Humane League UK because it claims to put the welfare of its ‘girls’ first for Happy Eggs while simultaneously forcing 4.3m hens to suffer and die in cages for its Big & Fresh brand.
The best way to end the suffering of these hens is to leave eggs off your plate. Discover delicious egg-free foods and recipes at www.loveveg.uk
You can also help end the use of these cruel cages by signing the petition demanding that Noble Foods goes cage-free across all of its brands.
Send an even stronger message to Noble Foods’ senior management team by .
We have passed all of our footage, photographs and written evidence to Dorset Trading Standards which is charged with investigating on-farm welfare, as well as to the British Egg Industry Council which runs the Lion Code. Both have said they are investigating the farm.
Last autumn, Animal Equality’s investigators uncovered severe animal suffering and public health violations on Poplar pig farm – a Red Tractor certified farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Our findings made national headlines and more than 10,000 people have signed our petition calling on the Government to fully enforce UK welfare laws that prohibit many of the practices we documented on this farm (and several others).
Just one month after we released our investigation, Poplar pig farm applied for a permit to expand their facilities and raise a further 2,500 pigs every year. We sent our findings to the Environment Agency (EA) and urged them to deny the permit as Poplar farm had been shown repeatedly violating animal welfare and public health regulations. You also took action, with more than 1500 people writing to the EA to object to this permit.
Stop Poplar Farm expansion! - YouTube
Last week the Environment Agency announced their decision. Poplar Farm was given the green light to expand, causing even more animals to suffer. The Environment Agency permit specifically allows them to erect two new sheds, both with fully-slatted floors (FSF) throughout, to house an additional 2,506 pigs.
All of these additional pigs will be housed on fully-slatted floors, meaning that they will receive no manipulable enrichment such as straw or other suitable material, leading to boredom and aggression- which was evident in the bitten and scarred pigs we saw on Poplar farm. This type of pig housing system gets around providing enrichment (required by law) as the gaps allow the pigs waste to fall through. Enrichment would clog up the gaps and prevent drainage.
In Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, fully-slatted floors have been banned for several years because it is not possible to comply with the EU requirement to provide permanent access to straw in this housing system. It is therefore extremely disappointing to see new pig sheds continue to be erected in Britain with fully-slatted floors, let alone on farms where welfare violations have recently been documented.
Unfortunately there is no right of appeal with the Environment Agency; however, several MPs will be raising questions with Defra on this issue – specifically, why permits are still being issued to build pig sheds with fully-slatted floors when it is not possible to provide the legally-required enrichment in this system.
You can take action to help pigs today!
We are calling for the UK Government to properly enforce pig welfare laws and protect the millions of pigs languishing on British farms from enduring the type of unnecessary suffering we have documented at Poplar, and other farms. Join us and give pigs your voice!
The best way to help pigs is of course leaving them, and all animal products, off your plate. Sign up for delicious cruelty-free recipes and advice at www.loveveg.uk