(Bloomberg) -- Swiss food giant Nestle SA is starting to sell vegan foie gras in Switzerland and Spain to ease the conscience of gourmands worried about animal welfare this festive season.

Traditionally, the pâté is made by force-feeding ducks or geese through a tube to make their livers fatty. The animals can also be tricked into fattening themselves up voluntarily, but they still need to be obese for their livers to make the rich and greasy paste. 

Culinary purists, especially in France where the foie gras label is only used if the birds were force-fed, may balk at Nestle’s “Garden Gourmet Voie Gras” which combines soy with flavorings like miso, truffle oil, and sea salt. But a backlash against the delicacy, and falling consumption, suggests tastes are changing as consumers prioritize ethics and health.

At 7.95 Swiss francs ($8.43) for a six-serving 180-gram jar, the vegan option is cheaper than a traditional duck liver foie gras, and slightly healthier, Nestle said. 

The launch from the world’s biggest food company is a mainstream push for consumers to accept cruelty-free revamps of very traditional meat products. Smaller companies are already offering meat-free alternatives to foie gras in Switzerland, which imports around 200 metric tons of the stuff each year. The Voie Gras product will be sold in 140 branches of Swiss retailer Coop, which hasn’t sold traditional foie gras in two decades.

Foie gras production is banned in many countries, including Switzerland and the UK. Campaigners have also been pushing for the imports of the controversial delicacy to stop. 

Animal rights groups say female ducklings are often killed or left to die because only males are used to produce foie gras.


--With assistance from Claudia Maedler.

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