NEWS AND COMMENT: Did you realise that the well-known dish that the French love, frogs’ legs in garlic, are the product of mass animal cruelty? That’s what animal activists have said at the world’s biggest celebration of frogs legs in Vittel, eastern France. It is their annual frog fair.
99% of the frogs legs eaten in France come from Vietnam and Indonesia as the French have only a handful of frog farms and it became illegal to capture wild frogs in France for their legs in 1979.
3,000 tons of frogs legs are imported into France annually. If it is illegal to capture wild frogs in France under the law, why do they so eagerly accept the same cruelty and worse in Vietnam and Indonesia? Isn’t that the worse kind of two-faced hypocritical behaviour from an entire nation?
Animal activists state that the seven tons of frogs legs eaten at the Frog Fair involved the killing of 350,000 frogs in Vietnam and Indonesia. And they say that the harvesting of the frog legs is inherently very cruel because they dismember the frogs while they are still alive and discard the body. Therefore, the frogs die a slow and painful death.
The French environmental association, Robin Des Bois and Pro Wildlife, its German counterpart, question whether the visitors to the fair know how their tasty snacks are produced.
The organisers of the fair say that it is a very traditional aspect of their lives and should be kept. Charlotte Nithart, spokeswoman for Robin Des Bois, said that there is nothing traditional about “torturing and importing hundreds of thousands of frogs from Vietnam, 12,000 km from France.”
In defence, Franck Perry, the mayor of the Vittel, said, “If we followed the logic of these people, we’d also have to stigmatise snail, calf’s head and tripe sausage fairs. In fact, this is part of a much wider debate on the consumption of meat.”
Comment: It is more than a debate about the consumption of meat. It is about the inherent cruelty of many aspects of farming (and ‘harvesting’ wild animals). All of it should be done away with. You can’t defend animal cruelty perpetrated against frogs in Vietnam by stating that there are other areas of animal cruelty in other areas of farming. That doesn’t work.
Frogs legs keeps the area in question going. It is a long-standing tradition and historically the French are frog eaters said the chairman of Vittel’s Brotherhood of the Frog Leg Tasters.
Also, animal activists say that eating frog legs harms local ecosystems in Vietnam and Indonesia. They say that this is partly because non-native species of frogs in frog farms escape into the wild and spread at the expense of native species. And also, frog farms are reservoirs of bacteria.
Comment: for me, the outstanding aspect of the story is the simple fact that hundreds of thousands of frogs are being dismembered alive to obtain their legs for consumption mainly in France (in Europe, 75% of frogs legs are consumed in France). That is unacceptable by any standards of morality. And it seems to me that France has passed the buck on animal cruelty to a couple of Asian countries where animal cruelty is more acceptable. Vietnam is known for its cruel cat meat businesses.