Holiday Reindeer Meat Sales Bring Protests Against 'Eating Rudolph'

Getty Images

A supermarket chain in Britain intends to sell reindeer meat for the holiday season, although some object that the idea of "eating Rudolph" violates the Christmas spirit.

The Lidl chain, which has 600 stores in Britain, said they tried out deluxe diced Siberian reindeer meat in 2010 and quickly sold out, with most stores selling all their reindeer within a week.

"The demand from our customers has been huge," Clare Norman, a PR manager for Lidl, told ABC News. "We aim to offer our customers a wide variety of traditional Christmas products, as well as those they may not have had the opportunity to try before."

Reindeer meat sells for £7.99 for 500 grams, or about $12.80 for 17.6 ounces of meat.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, howver, argue that eating reindeer at Christmas goes against the spirit of the holiday.

"No one likes the idea of eating Rudolph at Christmas," said Ben Williamson, a spokesman for PETA.

The charity group Viva! has also spoken out against Lidl's campaign. While eating reindeer is not uncommon in parts of the world, Justin Kerswell, Viva!'s campaigns manager, says that it's not just the spirit of Christmas that is being damaged by the promotion.

"Apart from the significant welfare issues around industrialized reindeer production, you can now add the systematic destruction of wild animals, such as wolves, to protect commercial reindeer herds," he said. According to Kerswell, bears as well as endangered wolves are shot in order to protect reindeer herds.

Norman at Lidl denied reindeer sales hurt the environment.

"We only source products that meet our high standards of food safety, hygiene and animal welfare while never compromising on quality," he said.

Norman said that Lidl's reindeer come from one of the world's largest herds in Siberia, "herded by indigenous nomad-farmers with reindeer farming playing an enormous cultural and economical part in the lives of the people in this region."

Reindeer will be hitting Lidl's shelves on Nov.7.