I don’t really have an opinion on whether foie gras is “really” inhumane or not (I can’t imagine it’s particularly enjoyable for the geese), but this review of a new book on the subject makes a valid point:
Face facts: If you oppose foie gras, even if the only thing you’ve ever done about it is to make a dinner companion feel guilty, and you still eat conventionally raised meat, you’re a raging hypocrite and a silly one at that. The eggs you ate for breakfast, the cheese that came on top, and the bacon on the side, all of it is produced using methods more torturous than the ones employed on a good foie gras farm. Animals on a typical farm these days are confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, much less do any of the things they’d normally do in nature. And in order to keep them at least somewhat healthy and functional despite those conditions, which tend to make them stressed and unhappy, their bodies are altered to keep them from harming themselves and their fellow animals — chickens have their beaks trimmed, pigs and cows get their tails docked.
None of that would excuse bad practices employed in the production of foie gras, if indeed any were used. But the typical farm conditions do go to a deeper point, one Caro explores thoroughly in his book: These wars are not, ultimately, about foie gras at all. They’re being waged by vegans who believe that all meat eating inevitably involves torture but who are smart enough — and disingenuous enough — to focus on a product the average person might never eat, one that can easily be portrayed as a decadent luxury enjoyed only by fat cats who could not care less about animals.
Whatever the merits of the case against foie gras (like I said: I’m agnostic), I think the focus of any movement for animal protection should be on the billions of animals who suffer on factory farms, not on a luxury item enjoyed by relatively few people.
Relatedly, HBO recently aired a documentary called Death On A Factory Farm. I haven’t seen it, and I imagine it makes for somewhat harrowing viewing, but what it depicts is likely to be far more typical than a plate of goose liver.