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Animal welfare should be part of Grand Débat for majority of French

media A French Gendarmes vehicle stands parked near a pig farm in Pouldreuzic, western France on March 16, 2017 as they follow up on allegations of animal abuse by animal rights association L214. FRED TANNEAU / AFP

The nationwide consultation in France known as the Grand Debat has focused so far on issues like purchasing power and inequalities between social classes. But an opinion poll published Friday shows that 55 percent of French people want animal welfare to be on the agenda too.

France is often seen as a country that values animals for their gastronomic, rather than intrinsic, value.

But an IFOP opinion poll commissioned by the Fondation 30 million d’amis founded by Brigitte Bardot suggest that culture is changing.

Data showed that 55% of the French want issues like intensive farming, hunting and the use of animal fur to be raised in the Grand Débat.

83% of respondants said they were in favour of ending intensive farming, more than 9 out of 10 say they’re opposed to trade in animal fur and 69% are opposed to hunting.

73% want a ban on the corrida in France and 67% want wild animals to be banned in circuses (as is the case in 23 EU countries).

Overall, 78% of people questioned considered that President Emmanuel Macron’s policies didn't take animal protection sufficiently into account.

Stop abandoning pets

Every summer between 60,000 and 100,000 pets are abandonned according to the SPA.

The Stéphane Lamart animal rights group says the government should tackle the issue by, for example, making it impossible to buy animals on credit from pet shops or farms or introduing tax breaks if you agree to sterilise your cats and dogs.

Growth in veganism

Studies show sales of vegan and vegetarian products in France increased by 24 percent over the last year. The meat-free market was worth €380 million in 2018 and is set to keep growing..

This is partly due to increasing consumer awareness of the negative health effects of eating too much meat, concerns over a growing number of food scandals, along with an increased sensitivity to animal welfare noted the Xefri study.

Radicalisation of the vegan movement

But for some the growing interest in defending animal rights has gone too far.

In the autumn last year, French butchers wrote to the government asking for protection against militant vegans after a string of attacks on butcher and fish shops.

The French Federation of Butchers accused militant vegans of trying to shut down the country's traditional meat-eating culture and "impose" their lifestyle on the majority of people.

Vegetarians and vegans remain marginal in France however. A survey in 2016 estimated just 3 percent of the French were vegetarians.

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