A Legacy for Animals: Sir John Gielgud’s Campaign Against Foie Gras

Posted by on April 14, 2019 | Permalink

One hundred and fifteen years ago today, a man with a heart of gold was born. Sir John Gielgud was one of PETA’s first celebrity supporters, helping to open hearts and minds to the plight of ducks and geese suffering in the foie gras industry.

On his birthday, PETA remembers the late actor and his lifelong commitment to ending animal abuse – which began decades before the animal rights movement became what it is today.

From winning Oscars to dominating the British stage, Sir John was a pioneer in countless respects, including by voicing PETA’s first-ever exposé of the cruel foie gras industry – and in a single take, at that.

Sir John seized every opportunity to speak up for animals, both in the UK and abroad, and was gracious and humble in becoming a spokesperson for a cause he cared about deeply. His work earned him a Humanitarian of the Year Award from PETA US on two occasions – first in 1994 and again in 1999.

His dedication to ending violence against geese and ducks in the foie gras industry was unfaltering. Sir John had a very special place in his heart for these birds – he knew and loved each of the ones who lived on the pond at his countryside home.

In one of his last actions, he successfully lobbied for the Smithsonian Institution to cancel plans to host a foie gras cooking demonstration.

What’s Wrong With Foie Gras?

Foie gras production is extremely cruel. Workers shove long metal tubes down ducks’ and geese’s throats several times a day in order to pump large quantities of grain into their stomachs. This causes their livers to swell to up to 10 times their normal size. In the final weeks of their lives, their livers press against their lungs, making it hard for them even to breathe.

When they’re eventually slaughtered, their fatty, diseased organs are sold as foie gras.

PETA’s Foie Gras Campaign

Thanks to dedicated campaigning by PETA and our international affiliates, countless supporters who have joined protests, and phenomenal support from celebrities like Sir John, hundreds of retailers and institutions have stopped selling vile foie gras.

Check out some more of our campaign highlights from over the years:

How to Speak Out Against Foie Gras

Nowadays, there’s such a stigma attached to foie gras that when a single person speaks out against it, that can be enough to persuade companies they’d be better off not selling it.

If you see foie gras on a menu or sitting on a store shelf, write to the business’s management and politely ask it to stop selling the diseased liver.

Here’s a sample letter that you can use when contacting companies: