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Veal carcasses in the meat products sector of the Rungis International Market, France (2011).

Veal is the meat of calves, in contrast to the beef from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from an animal of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from young male beef cattle.[1] Generally, veal is more expensive than beef from older cattle.


Free-raised calves.

There are several types of veal, with terminology varying by country:

  • Bob veal, from calves that are slaughtered when only a few weeks old (at most 1 month old) up to 60 lb.[2]
  • Formula-fed ("white" or "milk-fed") veal, from calves that are raised on a milk formula supplement. The meat colour is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance. They are usually slaughtered when they reach 18–20 weeks of age, 450 to 500 pounds (200 to 230 kg).[3]
  • Non-formula-fed ("red" or "grain-fed") veal,[4] from calves that are raised on grain, hay, or other solid food, in addition to milk. The meat is darker in colour, and some additional marbling and fat may be apparent. It is usually marketed as calf, rather than veal, at 22–26 weeks of age, 650 to 700 pounds (290 to 320 kg).
  • Rose veal in the UK (generally called young beef in Europe), is from calves raised on farms in association with the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Freedom Food programme. Its name comes from its pink colour, which is a result of the calves being slaughtered at or after 35 weeks (8 months up to 12 months).[5]
  • Pasture-raised veal
  • Free-raised veal[citation needed] is from calves raised in the pasture with unlimited access to their mother's milk and pasture grasses. They are not administered hormones or antibiotics. These conditions replicate those of pasture-raised veal. The meat is a rich pink color. Free-raised veal is typically lower in fat than other veal.[citation needed] Calves are slaughtered at about 24 weeks of age.
  • Special-fed veal is from calves fed a balanced milk- or soy-based diet one fortified with 40 essential nutrients, including essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, dietary iron and other dietary minerals and vitamins. As of 2013, the majority of veal calves in the USA are special-fed.[6]

Culinary uses[edit]

Culinary uses
Boneless veal cutlets
Minced veal with garlic and shiitake on rigatoni

Veal has been an important ingredient in Italian and French cuisine from ancient times. The veal is often in the form of cutlets, such as the Italian cotoletta or the famous Austrian dish Wiener Schnitzel. Some classic French veal dishes include fried escalopes, fried veal Grenadines (small, thick fillet steaks), stuffed paupiettes, roast joints, and blanquettes. Because veal is lower in fat than many meats, care must be taken in preparation to ensure that it does not become tough. Veal is often coated in preparation for frying or eaten with a sauce. Veal Parmigiana is a common Italian-American dish made with breaded veal cutlets.

In addition to providing meat, the bones of calves are used to make a stock that forms the base for sauces and soups such as demi-glace. Calf stomachs are also used to produce rennet, used in the production of cheese. Calf offal is also widely regarded as the most prized animal offal.[7] Most valued are the liver, sweetbreads, kidney, and bone marrow. The head, brains, tongue, feet, and mesentery are also valued.


At birth[edit]

Newborn calves are given a varied amount of time with their mothers, which can be anything from a few hours to a few days.[8][9] Free-raised calves are raised alongside their mothers, and always have access to their mothers' milk.

The modern veal industry has strong connections with the dairy industry.[8][9] To produce milk, cows must be lactating, and in order to be lactating, they must get pregnant and give birth. Since only female calves can be used to produce milk, use of male dairy calves is limited, outside of breeding.[10][11]

The veal industry's integration with the dairy industry goes beyond the purchase of surplus calves. It also buys large amounts of milk byproducts. Almost 70% of veal feeds (by weight) are milk products. Most popular are whey and whey protein concentrate (WPC), byproducts of the manufacture of cheese. Milk byproducts are sources of protein and lactose. Skimmed milk powder, casein, buttermilk powder and other forms of milk byproducts are also used from time to time.


Three different primary types of housing used for veal calves: hutches, stalls, or various types of group housing.[10][11]


"Milk-fed" veal calves consume a diet consisting of milk replacer, formulated with mostly milk-based proteins and added vitamins and minerals. This type of diet is similar to infant formula and is also one of the most common diets used for calves in the veal industry.[9][12]

"Grain-fed" calves normally consume a diet of milk replacer for the first six to eight weeks and then move on to a mostly corn-based diet.[11]

Free-raised calves are raised on an open pasture and receive a diet of milk, grass, and fresh water. Furthermore, free-raised calves do not receive antibiotics, which are often a focus of criticism amongst animal welfare organizations.[12]

Animal welfare[edit]

Veal production is a controversial issue in animal welfare.

Multiple animal welfare organizations that focus on factory farming consider several practices and procedures to be inhumane. Public efforts by these organizations have put some pressure on the veal industry to change some of its methods.[12]

Living space is a commonly raised issue of veal farming

Alternative agricultural uses for male dairy calves include raising bob veal (slaughter at two or three days old),[13] raising calves as "red veal" without the severe dietary restrictions needed to create pale meat (requiring fewer antibiotic treatments and resulting in lower calf mortality),[14] and as dairy beef.[15]

In 2008-2009 the demand for free-raised veal rose rapidly.[16][17]

Veal crates[edit]

Many veal farmers have started improving conditions in their veal farms.[16][18] The use of crates to prevent movement by veal calves is a principal source of controversy in veal farming. The American Veal Association has announced a plan to phase out the use of crates by 2017.[19]

Veal crating is criticized because the ability of the calves to move is highly restricted; the crates have unsuitable flooring; the calves spend their entire lives indoors, experience prolonged sensory, social, and exploratory deprivation; and the calves are more susceptible to high amounts of stress and disease.[12] According to the Veal Quality Assurance Program, the Veal Issues Management Program industry fact sheet, and the Ontario Veal Association, individual housing systems are important for disease control and in reducing the possibility of physical injury. Furthermore, they state it also allows for veal farmers to provide more personal attention to veal calves.[9][10]

Drug usage[edit]

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations do not permit the use of hormones on veal calves for any reason. They do, however, approve the use of antibiotics in veal raising to treat or prevent disease.[20]

In 2004, the USDA expressed concern that the use of illegal drugs might be widespread in the veal industry.[21] In 2004, a USDA official found a lump on a veal calf in a Wisconsin veal farm, which turned out to be an illegal hormone implant.[21] In 2004, the USDA stated "Penicillin is not used in calf raising: tetracycline has been approved, but is not widely used."[20]

Crate bans[edit]

The following shows where veal crates have been banned, or are currently in the process of being banned:


Veal crates became illegal in the UK in 1990 [22] and they were banned in all European Union member countries from 2007.[23]

Veal calf production as such is not allowed in many Northern European countries, such as in Finland. In Finland, giving feed, drink or other nutrition which is known to be dangerous to an animal which is being cared for is prohibited, as well as failing to give nutrients the lack of which is known to cause the animal to fall ill. The Finnish Animal Welfare Act of 1996 and the Finnish animal welfare decree of 1996 effectively banned crates in Finland and provided general guidelines for the housing and care of animals.

Veal crates are not specifically banned in Switzerland, but most calves are raised outdoors.[24][25]

United States[edit]

In 2007, the American Veal Association passed a resolution encouraging the entire industry to phase out crate confinement of calves by 2017.[26]

US States with bans on veal crates
  Laws prohibiting veal crates

As of 2015, eight US states ban veal crates. Nationally, several large veal producers and the American Veal Association are also working to phase out the industry use of veal crates. State-by-state veal crate bans are as follows:[27]

Current active legislation in:

  • New York (proposed in Jan. 2013 and 2014)[35]
  • Massachusetts (House[36] and Senate[37] bills filed annually since 2009; current bills would take effect one year after passage)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stacey, Caroline. "Is veal cruel?". BBC Food - Food matters. BBC. Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  2. ^ "Veal". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  3. ^ "Milk-fed veal definition". Ontario Veal Association. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  4. ^ Grain-Fed definition in Recommended Code of Practice for Raising Farm Animals from Archived August 6, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Hickman, Martin (2 September 2006). "The ethics of eating: The appeal of veal". Independent News and Media Limited. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. 
  6. ^ LeTrent, Sarah (August 6, 2013). "Targeting consumers' beef with veal". Eatocracy (blog). CNN. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  7. ^ Montagné, P.: New Concise Larousse Gatronomique, page 1233. Hamlyn, 2007.
  8. ^ a b "CCFA - Veal Calves". Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Veal Farm Questions and Answers". Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  10. ^ a b c "All About Veal Housing". Ontario Veal. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  11. ^ a b c Veal issue center[dead link]
  12. ^ a b c d HSUS Welfare of Veal Calves Archived October 17, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, 1997
  14. ^ Sargeant JM, Blackwell TE, Martin W, et al. Production indicates, calf health and mortality on seven red veal farms in Ontario. Can J Vet Res 1994;58:196-201.
  15. ^ Maas J, Robinson PH. Preparing Holstein steer calves for the feedlot. Vet Clin Food Anim 2007;23:269-279
  16. ^ a b Black, Jane (October 28, 2009). "The kinder side of veal". Washington Post.
  17. ^ HSUS - Strauss and Marcho veal crates Archived April 19, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Burros, Marian (April 18, 2007). "Veal to Love, Without the Guilt". New York Times. 
  19. ^ "On veal crates". CFHS. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  20. ^ a b [1]
  21. ^ a b Weise, Elizabeth (March 28, 2004). "Illegal hormones found in veal calves". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  22. ^ "CIWF on Veal Crates (UK ban on bottom of page)". 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ "Natura Veal". Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "swiss meat - animal protection". Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  26. ^ "Timeline of Major Farm Animal Protection Advancements". 8 September 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Veal Crates: Unnecessary and Cruel". 22 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "Arizona Makes History for Farm Animals" May 2007
  29. ^ ""Colorado bans the veal crate and the gestation crate", Compassion in world farming". 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Maine Bans Veal Crates" The Exception magazine
  32. ^ "Michigan Adopts Law to Ban Gestation Stalls". 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  33. ^ "Landmark Ohio Animal Welfare Agreement Reached Among HSUS, Ohioans for Humane Farms, Gov. Strickland, and Leading Livestock Organizations". 30 June 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  34. ^ Meier, Erica (June 21, 2012). "Victory: Rhode Island Bans Gestation Crates, Veal Crates, and Tail-Docking of Cows". Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ Lewis, Jason. "Bill H.1456 An Act to prevent farm animal cruelty". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  37. ^ Hedlund, Robert. "Bill S.741 An Act to prevent farm animal cruelty". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 

External links[edit]