The traditional version of this pâté is made by force-feeding ducks or geese through a tube to make their livers high in fat. Animals can also be tricked into voluntarily gaining weight, but they still need to be obese for their livers to produce the rich, greasy paste.
Culinary purists, especially in France, where the “foie gras” label only applies if the birds were force-fed, might resist Nestlé’s “Garden Gourmet Voie Gras,” which combines soybeans with flavorings like miso, olive oil, truffle and sea salt. But a strong rejection of this delicacy and the decline in its consumption suggests that tastes are changing as consumers prioritize ethics and health.
The vegan option, which costs 7.95 Swiss francs ($8.43) for a 180-gram jar for six servings, is cheaper than traditional duck foie gras and slightly healthier, Nestle said.
The launch of the world’s largest food company is a massive push for consumers to accept new versions of very traditional meat products made without harming animals.
Smaller companies already offer vegetarian alternatives to foie gras in Switzerland, which imports about 200 metric tons of the stuff each year. The Voie Gras product will be sold in 140 branches of Swiss retailer Coop, which has not sold traditional foie gras in two decades.
Foie gras production is banned in many countries, including Switzerland and the UK. Activists have also been pushing for a halt to imports of the controversial delicacy.
Animal rights groups say the paws are often killed or left to die because only the males are used to produce foie gras.