'Cruelty-Free' Dining

Wolfgang Puck has announced he will no longer serve fois gras at his restaurants. The superstar chef is the latest to embrace "cruelty-free dining." Humorist Brian Unger applauds the move, but wonders whether "cruelty-free" can also apply to patrons.

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Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has 86'ed fois gras from the menu at all his restaurants. He's responding to a movement known as cruelty-free dining. But it's eaters and not the eaten that our Brian Unger is concerned with. Here is today's Unger Report.

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BRIAN UNGER: Crated veal, caged hen and force-fed ducks and geese - these and other hallmarks of dirty dining, the Humane Society hopes to end. But how can a restaurant call itself cruelty-free when a waiter rolls his eyes and scowls when you ask for tap water rather than bottled?

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UNGER: The abuse a patron must endure is staggering when they choose water from a spigot over purchasing for $10 two glorious atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen bonded in Fiji.

Complaining about a waiter - especially one who takes an order, forgets an order and charges you for it anyway - nothing feels more trivial and petty as compared to animal cruelty. But while we're sticking up for the eaten, let us not forget the eaters in this new era of the cruelty-free restaurant.

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UNGER: Restaurants should cease killing lobsters by cutting them in half while they're still alive, but that lobster should be served while the customer is still alive. If food takes longer to arrive than the Iraq War to end, that's inhumane.

Force-feeding duck or geese to the point where their livers swell up to 10 times their normal size is called cruel, but force-feeding humans 10 times their size dessert after they've eaten the entire right side of the menu is called Las Vegas.

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UNGER: Sows, hens and calves confined to crates that prohibit moving, turning around, walking for months on end - these animals will not be eaten. However, diners smooshed together at tables in restaurants so tiny they can eat off a stranger's plate is romantic. These people might as well stay home.

More vegetarian options will be offered on menus, and these vegetarian options - organic without pesticides, herbicides or fungicides - will be priced without shame.

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UNGER: More than anything else, a farm animal that is allowed to roam freely is a great improvement in animal welfare, because in the words of the preeminent Wolfgang Puck, healthier animals taste better - preferably after they're dead. And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

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