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Vegan chefs and restaurateurs in the UK are being asked to join a discussion about plant-based foie gras, ahead of an upcoming ban on the spread made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese. Government officials will consult the food professionals on filling the gap in the market for the high-end product using sustainable, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients.
Foie gras is currently illegal to produce in the UK, but many luxury restaurants continue to import the product from countries like France. This is about to end, with an upcoming trade ban on the controversial spread, which is made from the fatty swollen livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed. To handle the gap in the market, the UK government hopes that F&B establishments will switch to plant-based alternatives.
Vegan foie gras
Government officials have asked vegan chefs and restaurateurs to advise the plan by offering their plant-based “faux gras” recipes, according to a report from the Guardian. Sources told the paper that chefs will be discussing how to recreate foie gras using vegan ingredients such as nuts and mushrooms as part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation process.
One of them is French chef Alexis Gauthier of two London establishments, Gauthier Soho and 123V, who decided to stop serving foie gras after he realised the cruelty behind the meat and dairy industry. At Gauthier Soho, the chef serves a “faux gras” dish made from lentils, walnuts, mushrooms and cognac.
This recipe is now being considered by the UK government as a potential replacement for foie gras dishes across the country’s F&B industry.
In an email sent to plant-based restaurateurs, according to the Guardian, Defra officials also invited chefs to share their “views on foie gras and the challenges and opportunities associated with ‘ethical’ alternatives.”
Foie gras innovation in food tech
Chefs aren’t the only ones coming up with alternatives to foie gras, with innovation bustling in the food tech industry to develop replacements for all types of animal proteins. One startup, based in France, is working on recreating foie gras using cellular agriculture technology, resulting in a final product that is identical to the real deal.
Gourmey’s cruelty-free foie gras is cultivated directly from the cells of animals, cutting out the need to farm, force-feed and slaughter ducks and geese and harvest their livers for the product. Because of foie gras’ naturally spreadable texture, it’s also easier to replicate using cell-based technology—it doesn’t require the need for complex scaffolds to create a whole cut slab of meat, such as steak.
New York-based Plantcraft, on the other hand, uses plant-based ingredients to create its range of pâté. Currently available for retail in the US, the brand uses green banana, golden linseed, grapeseed oil, legume-based protein and natural flavourings such as onion, garlic and cayenne pepper. In addition to being 100% vegan, the product is free from all the main allergens.
Lead image courtesy of Alexis Gauthier / PETA France.