Veal is the meat of young cattle (calves), as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds. [1]



There are five types of veal:

  • Bob veal, from calves that are slaughtered when only a few days old (70-150 lb.) up to 150 lb.[2]
  • Formula-fed (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 (450-500 lb).[3]
  • Non-formula-fed ("red" or "grain-fed")[4] veal, 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 (650-700 lb).
  • Rose veal UK is from calves reared on farms in association with the UK RSPCA's Freedom Food programme. Its name comes from its pink colour, which is a result of the calves being slaughtered at around 35 weeks.[5]
  • Free-raised veal, The veal calves are raised in the pasture, and have unlimited access to mother’s milk and pasture grasses. They are not administered hormones or antibiotics. These conditions replicate those used to raise authentic pasture-raised veal. The meat is a rich pink color. Free-raised veal are typically lower in fat than other veal.[citation needed] Calves are slaughtered at about 24 weeks of age.

The veal industry's support for 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 used from time to time.[6]

Culinary uses

Boneless veal cutlets

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. As 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 consisting of 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. The stomachs are also used to produce rennet, used in the production of cheese. Calf offal is also widely regarded as the most prized of animal offal.[7] Most valued are the liver, sweetbreads, kidney, and bone marrow. The head, brains, tongue, feet, and mesentery are also valued.

Minced veal with garlic and shiitake on pasta


free-raised veal


Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry and comes from male dairy calves. Veal in the United States contributes $250 million to the American dairy industry.[8][9] To produce milk, cows must be lactating, and to be lactating, they must get pregnant and give birth. Approximately 50% of all calves born in dairy farming are male. Since only female calves are used to produce milk, use of male dairy calves is limited, outside of breeding.[10][11]

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][12] Free-raised calves are raised alongside their mothers, and always have access to their mother’s milk.[13]


Calf hutch

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

While calves are young and most vulnerable to disease, they are kept in hutches, which keep them isolated and restrict movement so as to prevent connective tissue from developing, as the taste of veal raised in this manner is considered desirable,[10] although this has been illegal in most of Europe since the 1970s.[citation needed]

Free-raised or pasture-raised veal calves require no housing, barns, or facilities. Calves freely roam open pastures with their mothers and herd.[14]


"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 relates to infant formula and is also one of the most common diets used for calves in the veal industry.[12][15]

"Grain-fed" calves normally consume a diet of milk replacer for the first six to eight weeks. The calves 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 drugs such as hormones or antibiotics, which is often a focus of criticism amongst animal welfare organizations.[14][15]

Animal welfare

Veal is a controversial issue in terms of animal welfare.

Multiple animal welfare organizations, who strongly focus on factory farming, attempt to educate consumers about several veal production procedures they consider to be inhumane. This education has proven successful in creating pressure on the industry, resulting in recently announced changes in the methods used by the veal industry.[15]

Living space is a commonly raised issue of veal farming

A strong animal welfare movement concerning veal started in the 1980s with the release of photographs of veal calves tethered in crates where they could barely move. After the release of these photographs, veal sales have plummeted, and have never recovered.[16]

Many veal farmers listened to the concerns of their customers, and have started improving conditions in their veal farms.[16][17]

The American Veal Association has announced they plan to phase out the use of crates by 2017, which is often the main focus of controversy in veal farming. Strauss Brands is the first veal packer in the U.S. to raise veal calves completely tether-free and group-raised since December 31, 2008.[18][19][20]

Criticism with veal crates revolves around the fact that the veal calves are highly restricted in movement; have unsuitable flooring; spend their entire lives indoors; experience prolonged sensory, social, and exploratory deprivation; and are more susceptible to high amounts of stress and disease.[15] However, according to the Veal Quality Assurance Program and 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, being in individual crates.[10][12]

Alternative agricultural practices for using male dairy calves include raising bob veal (slaughter at two or three days old),[21] raising calves as "red veal" without the severity of dietary restrictions needed to create pale meat (resulting in fewer antibiotic treatments and lower calf mortality),[22] and as dairy beef.[23]

When it comes to the centuries-old method of free raised veal,[24] calves never experience the stress of confinement, separation from their mothers and herd-mates, or an unnatural diet.[14][25] Many veal producers are realizing this, and the demand for free-raised veal is rapidly increasing.[14][17][26]

In 2007, less than 5% of veal calves were raised in a group environment. In 2009, this had increased to 35%.[citation needed]

Bob veal slaughterhouse closure

In November 2009, a slaughterhouse certified as an organic processor in Vermont specializing in bob veal was closed after a series of cases of inhumane treatment towards veal calves. Inhumane treatment, in this situation, involved calves that appeared to have been skinned alive, kicked, dragged, and repeatedly shocked with electric prods.[27][28][29]

In a hidden-camera investigation by the HSUS, a USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspector was shown coaching a slaughterhouse worker on ways to avoid having the facility being shut down.[27][30] The facility, Bushway Packing, was shut down by the USDA with the Vermont Agriculture Agency.

Drug usage in veal

The USDA does not approve the use of hormones on veal calves for any reason, with the exclusion for use in ruminating cattle, which is not related to veal. They do, however, approve the use of antibiotics in veal raising to treat or prevent disease.[31] There is no check to see whether farmers and veal producers do not use antibiotics for reasons other than preventing or treating diseases.

In 2004, an official of the USDA found a lump on a veal calf in a Wisconsin veal farm, which turned out to be an illegal hormone implant (such implants are only allowed legally for beef cattle).[32][33] PETA claims the American Veal Association has confessed that this practice has been going on for 30 years.[32]

The USDA has expressed concern that the use of illegal drugs might be widespread in the veal industry.[33]

The USDA claims, in relation to penicillin, the following:

"Penicillin is not used in calf raising: tetracycline has been approved, but is not widely used."[31]

Veal crate bans

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,[34] and a full ban has been placed for the entire European Union, as of 2007.[35][36] Switzerland, with its substantial dairy industry, continues to use crates.

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 the health of the animal 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.


Crates are slowly being banned in the United States. As stated above, several large veal producers, as well as the American Veal Association, are working on phasing out veal crates. State-by-state veal crate bans are as follows:[37]

Current active legislation in:

  • New York (proposed in May 2009, if passed: planned to take effect in 2015)[42]
  • Massachusetts (proposed in January 2009, if passed: planned to take effect in 2015)[43]

See also

  • Culinary name, the use of a different name for the food (veal) and the animal (calf)


  1. ^ BBC Food - Food matters - Is veal cruel?
  2. ^ Calves and antibiotic residues
  3. ^ milk-fed veal definition
  4. ^ Grain-Fed definition in Recommended Code of Practice for Raising Farm Animals
  5. ^ The Appeal of Veal
  6. ^ Veal could be sold from the dairy case -Delft Blue
  7. ^ Montagné, P.: New Concise Larousse Gatronomique, page 1233. Hamlyn, 2007
  8. ^ a b CCFA - Veal Calves
  9. ^ Veal Farm Industry Facts
  10. ^ a b c d Ontario Veal - All About Veal Housing
  11. ^ a b c Veal issue center
  12. ^ a b c Veal Farm FAQ
  13. ^ Natural pasture raising
  14. ^ a b c d Free-raised American Veal
  15. ^ a b c d HSUS Welfare of Veal Calves
  16. ^ a b NYTimes - Veal to Love, Without the Guilt
  17. ^ a b Washington Post - Veal, Cast in a Kinder Light
  18. ^ CFHS on veal crates
  19. ^ Veal Assoc. Recommends Group Housing
  20. ^ AVA statement
  21. ^ Humane Food - Veal Facts
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Maas J, Robinson PH. Preparing Holstein steer calves for the feedlot. Vet Clin Food Anim 2007;23:269-279
  24. ^ Strauss Veal Recipes
  25. ^ Straussveal homepage
  26. ^ HSUS - Strauss and Marcho veal crates
  27. ^ a b "The HSUS Releases More Video of Animal Abuse at Vt. Slaughter Plant". The Humane Society of the United States. 2 November 2009. 
  28. ^ Boston - veal slaughterhouse closed down[dead link]
  29. ^ CBS News - Stories - Veal Slaughterhouse Closure[dead link]
  30. ^ WCAX Veal slaughterhouse closure
  31. ^ a b USDA's Veal Factsheet
  32. ^ a b PETA Veal Factsheet
  33. ^ a b Illegal hormones found in veal calves
  34. ^ CIWF on Veal Crates (UK ban on bottom of page)
  35. ^ CFHA - Veal Crates
  36. ^ - Europe Plan for Veal Crate Ban
  37. ^ a b University of Nebraska - Cali. Veal
  38. ^ Arizona Bans Veal
  39. ^ Colorado Bans Veal
  40. ^ Maine Bans Veal
  41. ^ Michigan Veal Ban
  42. ^ Possible NY Veal Ban
  43. ^ Possible Massachusetts Veal Ban

External links

  • Ontario Veal Association — Ontario veal industry in Canada.
  • Thinking Outside the Box — Dutch veal farming from Beef magazine
  • Veal Farm — Veal industry in the USA.
  • Veal Recipes. A collection of recipes for various cuts of veal, tips on cooking, selection and handling of veal
  • Veal Shop - sources for buying exclusively veal cuts and meals online in the USA, also a source for veal recipe books

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • veal|y — «VEE lee», adjective. 1. like or suggesting veal; having the appearance of veal. 2. Figurative. immature …   Useful english dictionary

  • Veal — (v[=e]l), n.[OE. veel, OF. veel, F. veau, L. vitellus, dim. of vitulus a calf; akin to E. wether. See {Wether}, and cf. {Vellum}, {Vituline}.] The flesh of a calf when killed and used for food. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • veal — [vi:l] n [U] [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin: veel, from Latin vitellus small calf , from vitulus calf ] the meat of a ↑calf (=a young cow) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • veal — [ vil ] noun uncount meat from a young cow …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • veal — late 14c., from Anglo Fr. vel, from O.Fr. veel a calf (Fr. veau), earlier vedel, from L. vitellus, dim. of vitulus calf, perhaps originally yearling, if related, as some think, to Skt. vatsah calf, lit. yearling; Goth. wiþrus, O.E. weðer (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • veal — ► NOUN ▪ the flesh of a calf, used as food. ORIGIN Old French veel, from Latin vitellus small calf …   English terms dictionary

  • veal — [vēl] n. [ME vel < OFr veel < L vitellus, little calf, dim. of vitulus, calf, orig. prob. yearling; akin to vetus, old: see VETERAN] 1. the flesh of a young calf, used as food 2. VEALER …   English World dictionary

  • veal|er — «VEE luhr», noun. U.S. a milk fed calf usually under 14 weeks old …   Useful english dictionary

  • veal — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. calf, bob veal, deaconned veal; see beef 1 , meat . Cuts of veal include: chops, leg, shank, shoulder, rump, loin, rack, neck, breast, chuck. Veal dishes include: veal cutlet, veal stew, calf s liver, Wiener schnitzel, veal… …   English dictionary for students

  • veal — re·veal·able; re·veal·er; re·veal·ing·ly; re·veal·ing·ness; re·veal·ment; veal; veal·er; veal·i·ness; re·veal; …   English syllables

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