Episode 23: Cruel & Unusual: Veal, Foie Gras, Octopus

There are a variety of ways to raise animals for consumption — and while some would argue we shouldn’t be eating animals at all, others advocate rooting out the cruelest practices, the ones that cause the most suffering. But how do you measure cruelty? Do some animals deserve to suffer less than others because they’re especially cute or smart? And does your right to enjoy a fancy or delicious meal trump the right of an animal to not experience extreme cruelty? In this episode, we look at three controversial foods — veal, foie gras and octopus — and the campaigns launched by animal rights activists to stop their production and consumption. These foods and the animals they come from have a lot to teach us about the ethics of animal agriculture — opening up deeper questions about whether we should be eating animals at all.

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“It's not as though [foie gras] is a fringe issue, right? This is something that if you ask any person walking down the street, you know, ‘Is this okay with you?’ — you're going to get overwhelming opposition ... So many of these issues, there are people who might not know what [a food] is or how it's made, but once they do know, it's hard to support it.”

Cheryl Leahy

Executive director, Animal Outlook

Episode guests:

Daisy Freund

Daisy is vice president of farm animal welfare at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Cheryl Leahy

Cheryl is the executive director of Animal Outlook, a national nonprofit animal protection organization.

Elena Lara

Elena is a senior research and public affairs advisor at the international farmed animal welfare organization, Compassion in World Farming, where she focuses on marine life.

FoodPrint resources:

Additional resources:

Top photo credits from left to right:

By fahrwasser/Adobe Stock
By Studio23/Adobe Stock
By iMarzi/Adobe Stock