Nestlé becomes latest brand to launch vegan version of foie gras

1 Dec 2022

Foie gras, a traditional staple of Christmas dinner across France and other European countries, has long been a controversial delicacy. Now, Nestlé has become the latest company to create a cruelty-free vegan version under its Garden Gourmet brand.

The Swiss group’s Voie Gras product – which, according to Garden Gourmet, is cheaper and healthier than traditional foie gras – was developed at Nestlé’s R&D centre in Germany, using vegetable fats and soy protein combined with miso, yeast, toasted sesame, mushroom powder, and white truffle scent.

Nestlé becomes latest brand to launch vegan version of foie gras
Garden Gourmet Voie Gras dished © Nestle Switzerland

From this week, the 180 g product will be available at a select number of Carrefour group stores in Spain and Coop stores in Switzerland.

“At Garden Gourmet we want to continue leading the flexitarian lifestyle,” said Ignacio Rosés, culinary director of Nestlé Spain. “Spain is the second country with the highest consumption of foie gras worldwide. In recent years, however, its consumption has decreased due to greater concern for animal welfare, among other reasons.

“In this context, we have worked to be able to offer an alternative that is vegan and that will revolutionise the Spanish table this Christmas, the time of greatest consumption.”

A controversial delicacy with implications for animal welfare

Foie gras – which, under French law, is defined as the liver of a duck or goose fattened by gavage (force-feeding) – has long been controversial owing to concerns around animal welfare.

In the UK, King Charles III has officially banned foie gras from all royal residences because of animal welfare concerns. As thanks, the animal rights group PETA sent the monarch vegan faux gras made by Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier.

It is a reaction to a market where health-conscious consumers are choosing to balance indulgence with a clear conscience.

According to Statista, foie gras consumption in France rose to 300 g per capita in 2010, before decreasing to reach an estimated 207 g in 2020.

Its production has been banned in Switzerland for decades; the country is one of the largest buyers of French foie gras, importing 200 tons a year. However, those volumes have been falling in recent years.

Speciality brands catering for cruelty-conscious consumers

Garden Gourmet joins established specialty brands in the space such as Gaia, which describes its Faux Gras as a “delicious alternative” to the traditional dish; its ingredients include nutritional yeast, potato starch, tomato pulp, coconut oil, champagne, sea salt, truffle, and spices.

Garden Gourmet's Voie Gras © Nestlé SwitzerlandGarden Gourmet's Voie Gras © Nestlé Switzerland

The company also makes a cranberry version as well as a larger, 1 kg Faux Gras with Small Mushrooms, which also includes tofu, cooked rice, and vegetables.

French startup Aberyne produced a plant-based foie gras last year, which is now distributed throughout France and Spain. Its Foie Green product uses cashew nuts, miso, sesame puree, coconut oil, cocoa butter, xanthan gum, nutritional yeast, dehydrated mushroom, salt, black pepper, and allspice. Alongside its traditional Foie Green, it also offers truffle, bilberry, and Espelette pepper varieties.

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