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We’re working with Michelin to take whales off the menu

Julia Pix

Julia Pix

Julia Pix is WDC’s head of engagement. She delivers our public campaigns and supporter communications.

As we prepared to launch our Change The Course campaign, urging Michelin to stop endorsing restaurants that serve whale meat, we had an early breakthrough. Senior Michelin staff travelled from Paris to London to meet us, and following on from our constructive meetings, they are keen to work with us. Now, we need you to show them that the public supports their willingness to improve global food chain security in the restaurant industry.

When you hear the words 'Michelin Stars,' I imagine you think of exclusivity, sophistication, and top-notch quality. Michelin has long held its place as the arbiter of culinary excellence, influencing chefs worldwide and setting aspirational standards. What might come as a shock is that the Michelin Guide recommends restaurants in Japan, Norway, Greenland and the Faroes that have whale meat on the menu, and even rewards some with a prestigious Michelin Star.

Whale meat dish in fine dining resturant
Whales don't belong on a menu.

Michelin's defenders might argue that it is neutral on issues like whaling, focusing on the quality of the food being served. But in today's world, where consumers actively seek socially responsible and sustainable options, such neutrality seems outdated. Leadership in the culinary world extends beyond exquisite flavours and presentation; it requires a commitment to responsible and ethical practices. By taking a stand against promoting restaurants serving whale meat, Michelin will align itself with the values of a forward-thinking global community.

Help Michelin Change The Course. Together we can take whalesoff the menu. Sign the letter at whales.org/changethecourse
It's time to change the course.

Change The Course

Our mission is to stop all whale and dolphin hunts, and one effective strategy is to end the demand for their meat - if no one eats it, the hunts are less likely to continue. Iceland’s last minke whale hunter, for example, stopped hunting because it was no longer profitable.

Help Michelin change the course ticket

Will you support Michelin to change the course?

Why take whales off the menu?

The simple truth is there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea. Whales are intelligent, sentient, emotional beings and being chased by a boat and shot by a harpoon that explodes inside their body is a terrifying and agonising way to die. It’s common for more than one shot to be needed. Pregnant females are often targeted because they are slower and easier to shoot - this means the next generation of whales die with their mothers. While this alone is a good enough reason, there’s another compelling motive – to save our world.

Image showing two harpoon wounds in fin whale
20% of whales shot by a harpoon take between six and 25 minutes to die. Some can take two hours.

Eating whales is bad for the planet. They are climate giants and we need them to help tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. Whales are worth more to us alive in the ocean than dead on a plate; they help the ocean absorb more carbon and release more oxygen than all of Earth’s forests combined, they sustain fisheries and maintain marine ecosystems. And what’s worse is that many whale species served in restaurants are endangered, threatened or vulnerable. If we want to save our planet, we need more whales, not fewer.

We need whale poo ? WDC NA
When whales die they help lock away huge amounts of carbon

As they travel, whales act like gardeners of the ocean transporting vital nutrients around the world on a massive scale through their poo, urine, milk and when they shed their skin.

Why Michelin?

You might wonder how getting Michelin to help us take whales off the menu in fine dining restaurants will make a difference. Most of us don’t eat in Michelin-starred restaurants, and if we do, it’s a rare treat. But Michelin is hugely influential. Many of our TV chefs have a Michelin Star and it’s the dream of aspiring cooks on shows like Masterchef. In an era where food dominates TV schedules, celebrity chefs inspire culinary adventures, and food-related hobbies flourish, Michelin remains the gold standard. By persuading a globally recognised brand like Michelin to stop encouraging people to eat in restaurants where whales might be served, we’ll send a powerful message across the food world, that eating whales is unacceptable.

Whale meat sashimi
Michelin have an opportunity to lead the way in the restaurant industry.

Early success

In the build up to this campaign, we were working hard behind the scenes, including inviting senior staff at Michelin to talk with us, and offering our support and expertise to help them to do the right thing. After 18 months of encouragement, we finally had a breakthrough in February 2024 when we were invited to talk. We had a succession of extremely positive conversations and they told us they wanted to work with us.

Then, just last Friday, two senior members of the Michelin team caught a train from Paris to meet with us in London. We had an inspiring and constructive conversation. They expressed their commitment to promoting global food chain security which means ensuring sustainable and environmentally responsible practices throughout the entire food supply chain to preserve biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural habitats. Recognising that we need more whales in the ocean to sustain fish populations and maintain the natural balance of our world, they see this as an opportunity to take a leadership role in generating support for sustainability in the restaurant industry. Michelin are keen to continue working with us to explore how they can protect vulnerable, threatened and endangered whale species and they have invited us to join them next month, together with a variety of stakeholders, to discuss things further. We are optimistic that together we genuinely can change the course.

Let's show Michelin we support them.
Let's show Michelin we support them.

Help Michelin Change The Course

Now that we have an open dialogue with Michelin and we know they want to do the right thing, we need you to show that the public is behind them, encouraging them to make the right decisions. You are the driving force behind our campaign's reach, influence, and potential for lasting success. Michelin holds the power to shape the future of gastronomy by prioritising sustainable and ethical practices.  We need people worldwide to inspire Michelin to make this change and save whales.

Sign our letter to show your support – help Michelin #TakeWhalesOffTheMenu.

Please help us today with a donation

If you are able to help, every gift, whether large or small, will help take whales off the menu.

About Julia Pix

Head of engagement