Animal rights group Vegetarians International Voice for Animals started a campaign against U.K. store Harvey Nichols for selling reindeer meat, and the publicity led to a spike in sales.
VIVA feels there are a host of problems that make the Swedish delicacy unfit to mass produce.
According to the animal rights group, when reindeer are herded to be farmed, they are frightened. Because the furry creatures are highly susceptible to stress, they can be adversely affected by the snowmobiles and helicopters used to guide them.
VIVA’s website states: “The suffering can be so great that their muscles can literally waste away.”
The group also constructed an email for protesters to send to Harvey Nichols. In the letter, VIVA lambasts the department store not only for “popularizing so-called ‘exotic meat,’” but other crimes against nature, like killing wolves and lynxes – the natural predators of reindeer – to keep the population high for farming.
Harvey Nichols responded to the requests in a statement, saying, “Reindeer is growing in popularity in the U.K. … The reindeer we stock is farmed in Sweden and complies to EU legislation.”
VIVA’s efforts had a surprising effect: the previously unknown treat was publicized, and promptly sold out of stores.
The expensive, sold under the “Edible” brand ($23 for only 6.7 ounces), can no longer be found online or in Harvey Nichols stores because reindeer meat lovers flocked to stores, afraid that their delicacy would be sold no longer.
A spokeswoman for Harvey Nichols, Constance Cooper, spoke to MSNBC about the rise in demand.
“[O]ur online stock has sold out due to the publicity and demand we've received," she said via email.
She added that mostly likely, there would be no more of the “Edible” brand until the new year because of the scarcity of reindeer.
"It's a seasonal product and stocks are limited so we will not be restocking prior to Christmas," said Cooper.