Animal activists of Active for Justice, among whom are students from Wageningen, posted in front of two Wageningen restaurants that still serve foie gras this weekend. Foie gras is French for fatty liver. The streets were empty, but the protesters were calling out on their megaphones: ‘Foie gras is animal abuse and must stop.’
A protest in Utrecht last month by Utrecht van Active for Justice against foie gras on the menu got out of hand. A group of activists occupied the French Bistronome Des Arts for some time. Seven protesters were taken into police custody. They were released with a warning last week.
The thirty activists that turned up in Wageningen on Saturday evening intended to prevent a repetition of ‘Utrecht’, says spokesperson Ruud (‘no last name, please’). ‘We want to keep it civil, which is why we stay on the public sidewalk’.
The ‘flip side’ is that the guests at restaurant Beau notice very little of the protest against ‘goose liver and granny smith’ (side dish, 22 euros), which is on the restaurant’s menu, because there is a parking lot between the sidewalk and the restaurant, which is private property. A waste of a good protest? No, they are sure to be heard inside, say the protesters, who have come to Wageningen from all over the Netherlands
Loud attention seeking, says Steff de Groot of the WICC Hotel, which is home to restaurant Beau. And unnecessary, as the activists had already received a reply to the letter sent by Active for Justice. ‘It will be removed from the menu, as there are enough delicious alternatives, Hotel WICC has indicated’, says De Groot. ‘Just not right away, but with the new menu in less than two months.’
The protesters at restaurant Diels in the Vijzelstraat are able to come closer. They hold their signs up in front of the windows, but the atmosphere is friendly. The guests at Diels continue their meal unfazed and simply look away. Anyone wishing to enter can do so freely.
‘We could consider removing the dish from the menu’, says the owner of restaurant Diels, responding to the demonstration (‘an act that led mainly to laughter inside’). But this protest makes it a lot easier for us to decide not to do so any time soon.’
In response to the question of whether the criticism is justified, he replies: ‘we hardly sell this dish, it is not prohibited, and yes, we are aware of animal welfare.’ As far as the owner is concerned, the protesters were in the wrong place. ‘Let them protest for a change in legislation in The Hague next time.’
Foie gras hotline
Active for Justice has a foie gras hotline on its website. People can fill out a form to report restaurants that serve foie gras. Next month’s protest calendar is empty. This Saturday is proof that menus have a habit of changing. ‘We were set to visit four restaurants’, says spokesperson Ruud. ‘But only two still have it on the menu.’
He is positive about the demonstration in the deserted streets of Wageningen. ‘It is all about awareness, and we will continue until it is removed from every menu.’
This article was previously published in De Gelderlander / Jaap Rademaker