‘It’s supply and demand – and the cruelty is debatable’: Pub director refuses to take foie gras off the menu

The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden
The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden

A restaurateur has hit back at the animal rights campaigners who are planning to protest outside of his country pub on Saturday because he sells foie gras.

Alvin Michaels, one of the directors of the Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden, accused them of ‘blackmail’ in a statement issued to this website this morning.

The Bricklayers Arms at Flaunden. PNL-140209-095006009

The Bricklayers Arms at Flaunden. PNL-140209-095006009

Mr Michaels decided it was time to get across his side of the story after Hertfordshire Animal Rights issued a press release about its protest plans yesterday

Today, Mr Michaels said the group has pursued the Bricklayers Arms through a negative campaign on social media, threatening phone calls and demonstrations outside of the restaurant.

He said: “I thought that this issue deserved some serious thought as fois gras raises some interesting moral and philosophical questions.

“I am puzzled that I have been singled out when foie gras is widely available on the shelves of many supermarkets, restaurants and local stores all over the UK.

The Bricklayers Arms at Flaunden. PNL-140209-095028009

The Bricklayers Arms at Flaunden. PNL-140209-095028009

“Animal welfare, sustainable, humane and ethical farming practice should be everybody’s concern.”

He said the Bricklayers Arms is ‘passionate’ about sourcing products from local farmers and suppliers who recognise and respect the humane treatment of their animals.

The country pub – which dates back to the 18th century – features in this year’s Michelin Guide and won the AA’s Rosette 2014 and Best Herts Pub awards.

It was named Restaurant of the Year by The Foodie Square Guide and Hertfordshire’s Dining Pub of the Year by The Good Pub Guide.

The Bricklayers Arms also became the regional winner Publican Magazines’ Freehouse of the Year and Food Pub of the Year titles.

Referring to the production of foie gras, Mr Michaels said: “There is plenty of evidence on both sides of the argument.

“For every study that says it is harmful to feed waterfowl through tube-feeding, there seems to be equal evidence that states that it isn’t.”

He said there is an argument that the physiology of waterfowl protects them from any ill-effects from overfeeding.

The theory suggests that left to their normal state, overfeeding would occur naturally to sustain them through long flights and hard winters.

Mr Michaels said: “And what about choice? Let’s not forget the law of supply and demand. I have been serving foie gras to my customers for the past 11 years.

“Finally, if one bows to the pressure of blackmail, (and there are many cases of convictions of animal rights activists for similar offences), what will the next campaign be about? Chicken? Beef? Lamb? Seafood?

“We have long been and are a nation mainly of meat, game and poultry consumers.

“Until that changes we will continue to serve a wide range of quality produce, lovingly sourced, prepared and served to our clientele.”