Quebec restaurant, Côté-Est, has had a seal meat burger topped with foie gras as an option on its menu since 2012, but a Facebook post from animal advocates has now sparked outrage over the burger.
While I’m no fan of burgers made out of anyone’s meat, a burger made from seal and foie gras is undeniably hideous. Foie gras (translated “fatty liver”) is produced by force-feeding geese and ducks with tubes inserted down their throats. Their livers become engorged, and many of the animals become unable to stand or suffer organ ruptures. Killed for their pelts and meat, seals are clubbed to death and skinned.
So, when a tourist posted about the burger in a Facebook group called “Defend animals and nature” (in French) last month, needless to say, the group members weren’t happy. The outrage has spread, and Côté-Est has been hearing it. Owner of the restaurant, Kim Côté, says they have received comments and private message on their Facebook page, which they subsequently removed from Facebook. Côté says they have even received death threats.
“We called the police to let them know what was happening. You never know, they are extremists. To go so far as to send death threats, threats to come damage our restaurant… it’s pretty intense,” said Côté according to Huffington Post.
The restaurateur is also a hunter himself, and has responded to advocates’ claims that many of the seals killed in Canada’s seal hunt are babies by saying that it is illegal to kill baby seals. However, it is legal for the hunters to kill harp seals who have shed their white baby coats, meaning that seals who are only weeks old are legally killed. Côté adds that the meat used in his burger is federally inspected and legal to be sold.
Adding insult to injury, the restaurant has named the $18.00 burger the “Phoque Bardot,” named for the French word for seal and actress and animal activist Brigitte Bardot, who has long opposed the seal hunt. Bardot has also spoken out against foie gras.
Conservation organizations are also criticizing the restaurant’s choice of burgers. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society spoke with Ecorazzi about the culinary cruelty. “Canada should be ashamed of this ongoing slaughter. As a Canadian, I see nothing funny about thousands of baby seals being clubbed to death every year for their fur and now, apparently, to make burgers and sick jokes. The restaurant Côté-Est may think it’s tongue-in-cheek, but it’s actually a knife from the jaw to the belly in order for seal clubbers to rip off the pelts of innocent baby seals – nearly half while still alive and fully conscious – whose only ‘crime’ was being born in Canada,” said Susan Hartland, Administrative Director, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA.
Côté-Est says that the burger will remain on their menu, despite the public outcry.