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Why I Changed My Name to Support the Fight Against Foie Gras

My name is StopFortnumAndMasonFoieGrasCruelty.com. Seriously – that’s what it says on my driver’s license. I’ve asked everybody, from my parents to my mail carrier, to start calling me by my new moniker.

It’s not that I have anything against the name my parents gave me (Abi Izzard) – it’s just that I do have something against foie gras and the fact that Fortnum & Mason, which trades on its British heritage, continues to sell a product so cruel that its production is banned in Britain.

Foie gras is uniquely cruel in that it is one of the few “foods” that is produced by intentionally inflicting illness on animals. Birds raised for foie gras are force-fed up to 2 kgs of grain and fat every day via a pipe that is shoved down their throats. This causes the birds’ livers to expand to as much as 10 times their normal size, resulting in a disease known as “hepatic steatosis”.

The birds often suffer from internal haemorrhaging, fungal and bacterial infections and hepatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that occurs when their livers fail. They can become so debilitated that they can only move by pushing themselves along the ground with their wings. The birds’ feathers are dirty, their eyes are dull and lifeless, their breathing is laboured and many are too ill to lift their heads. Undercover video shot on a French foie gras farm shows birds trembling in fear as the force-feeding pipe approaches.

Although PETA has provided Fortnum & Mason with a wealth of scientific and expert evidence to show how cruel foie gras production is, the retailer continues to peddle this “torture in a tin”.

I’ve taken the unusual measure of changing my name in protest as it’s extremely cruel to force-feed birds massive amounts of food in order to inflict a painful and debilitating disease on them. My new name may earn me some weird looks, but an awkward moment here and there or the inconvenience of the added time it takes to sign my name is nothing compared to being clamped into a filthy cage or pen and having a metal tube shoved down my throat several times a day.

Whenever anyone sees or hears my name, it sparks a conversation about the cruelty of foie gras production and encourages people to visit the website that bears my name to find out how they can help convince Fortnum & Mason to stop funding goose abuse. Fortnum & Mason is one of the few British department stores that still sell foie gras: Selfridges, House of Fraser, Jenners and Harvey Nichols have all stopped selling and serving the diseased livers of ducks and geese. Please, Fortnum & Mason, let me have my name back – stop selling foie gras!

About StopFortnumAndMasonFoieGrasCruelty.com

Abi Izzard is a Special Projects Coordinator at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Foundation, the UK affiliate of the world's largest animal rights organization. In September 2011 she changed her name by deed poll to StopFortnumandMasonFoieGrasCruelty.com in a bid to pressure the department store to cease stocking foie gras.

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  1. Good on you!

    The mere fact that Foie Gras is illegal to produce in the UK, should be enough to ensure the illegality of it. I just checked the Fortnum and Mason website in which they said they source their fatty diseased goose liver from only two farms with the highest of welfare standards…

    Even if you take the goose out for a five course dinner, how can you argue that shoving a steel pipe down their throat after dessert and purposely overfeeding them can ever be considered humane?

    It’s sickening and people that choose to ignore it and look the other way make me sick.

  2. Well, I agree with your aim but disagree with you only going through PETA to put pressure on Fortnum & Mason. Unfortunatly because PETA (of which I see you are a member) is infamous in those circles for such campaigns, making your effort sadly ignorable. Try other means as well, perhaps collate some serious non-bias evidence and present it to the EU commission as currently lawful animal cruelty to try to get the process banned in the whole of Europe – your mentioning of it being unlawful in the UK but being made in France suggests this would be an avenue of action.

    Good luck – and I genuinly hope they don’t try to sue you for defamation because sadly businesses tend to get uppity when underhand trading methods are highlighted.

  3. This is a little crazy, but inspirational at the same time. It’s great that she has done something so extreme to help these animals!

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