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One foie gras foe vandalized 7 eateries, Web poster claims

Obscenities spray-painted on signs, doors, windows in downtown Austin.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Photos of vandalism against Austin restaurants that serve veal and foie gras have been posted on the Internet, underscoring an ongoing local battle between animal rights activists and restaurateurs over the meats.

Seven downtown restaurants, far more than previously were made public, were defaced with obscene, spray-painted slogans late July 2 or early July 3, according to the posting. The eateries are Aquarelle, Eddie V's Edgewater Grille, Fleming's, Restaurant Jezebel, Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Spaghetti Warehouse and Truluck's.

Foie gras is duck or goose liver that has been fattened through force feedings of the animal. Veal is the meat from beef calves that critics long have complained are not always treated humanely.

"We didn't know it was the same person doing all this," David Tripoli, an executive with the Truluck's restaurant chain, said Monday. "We thought it was a random act."

It was not random, according to the Web site, which showcases the photos of the damage.

"Certain restaurants in the downtown Austin area were vandalized with graffiti by an local animal rights activist," the posting states. "The incident occurred sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Here are some photos from the incident."

The statement does not say whether the vandal and the Web poster are the same person.

Only two of the acts of vandalism, at Jezebel and Aquarelle, were reported to police, according to a spokeswoman for the Austin Police Department.

Tripoli, who said this was the first time Truluck's has been painted with graffiti of that nature, said the restaurant staff assumed it was an isolated act, most likely by an inebriated person.

After learning that six other places were involved, Tripoli called the mass vandalism disconcerting.

"That's unacceptable," he said. "Everyone has a right to express their opinions, but that kind of behavior isn't going to help the cause."

Noah Cooper, who has been leading an anti-foie-gras campaign for Central Texas Animal Defense and has contacted several restaurants urging them to stop serving it, agreed.

"We're taking a much more positive approach, trying to work with restaurants rather than vandalize their property," Cooper said.

"It's just not helpful. We have tried very, very hard to show restaurants that we're not trying to put them out of business or cause any damage. We just want them to remove one dish."; 445-3859





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