Beyond the Surface: Unmasking the Hidden Reality of Veal

The world is gradually shifting towards a plant-based diet, but a huge section loves meat, and can we question it? Animal meat surely has an amazing taste and texture, and its health benefits need not be mentioned. You probably have heard or been a part of debates surrounding eating meat and animal cruelty. While some animals’ meat is still away from criticism, Veal is not one of them.

Veal is a meat from young calves and has always been criticized, but the taste and health benefits do not stop people from grabbing a bite. A meat prepared from baby cows who can not produce milk has never been free from criticism.

Many countries have made it illegal to consume veal or even produce it. Here, you can learn about Veal, what makes it controversial, and then decide whether you want veal in your diet.

Veal Meat: Meaning, Origin, Types and Harvesting

Veal Meat- Meaning, Origin, Types and Harvesting

In simple words, veal is meat from calves of cows aged between 6 to 8 months. In many places, people consider veal rich and pure when cows are under two weeks of age. Veal that you might have tasted usually from male cows as they can not produce milk, so they are sold as meat.

Baby male cows are often referred to as veal calves because they are sold to be slaughtered for human consumption. Depending on the age and slaughtering, there are different types of veal-

  • Bob Veal- Made from male cows under two weeks of age
  • Slink Veal- Made from male cows that are stillborn or unborn. This type of veal has been banned in many countries, including Canada and the US.
  • Rose Veal- Made from male cows between 8 to 12 months of age

1. Origin

Initially, Veal gained extreme popularity in Europe. There was a buzz around the meat in the US and UK, but it declined rapidly by the 1960s because of extreme controversy and criticism. Veiling has been strictly banned in many countries, including Canada, India, and the US. The meat is typically used in French and Italian cuisines—their traditional meals feature veal scallopini.

2. Raising

Raising calves that provide veal is a rather skilled task as each calf is observed to find whether or not they can be sold as veal. Many farms provide a special diet to calves that cut out milk production completely and raises them with better minerals and vitamins.

There are special veal farmers who understand the techniques of raising a veal. They are appointed to individual stalls as well to keep a close eye on the diet and growth of calves.

Additional Info– Hormonal medicines or practices are banned in veal raising; this, however, is far from practical truth.

3. Harvesting

Veal harvesting is as tough as its raising. There are different techniques used by veal farmers all around the globe. However, fundamentally, harvesting veal involves these steps-

  • Harvesting veal requires a separate stall for each calf to grow in a free and spacious environment.
  • In addition, each calf is provided with an extra fibrous and vitamin-loaded diet.
  • These calves are kept under natural and artificial lighting to ensure constant light, which is valuable for producing rich veils.
  • Once they reach the appropriate age, they are carefully transferred to trucks and sent to slaughterhouses.

Additional Info– Veal is directly sold by dairy farms to slaughterhouses, ensuring zero loss for dairy farms.

Is Veal Cruel?

Is Veal Cruel?

Vegans and vegetarians have been raising their voices against meat consumption, especially cruel harvesting practices. What makes veal cruelty real is the voices meat lovers raise. Around the 1980s, veal was considered the poster baby of animal cruelty. There are many reasons making veal truly cruel. Here are some practices that make it hard for anyone to justify

  • Age– Now that you have reached here, you probably know veal is harvested from young male cows. From the virtue of their age itself, veal harvesting becomes a cruel practice. The belief that the younger the calf, the better the veal brings controversy around the meat with no justification.
  • Diet– Secondly, raising male cows for veal harvesting requires a special diet, which often lacks adequate iron. The biggest part of their diet is a milk replacer liquid with iron deficiency. What might surprise you is that this leads to anemia in baby cows, resulting in white meat with a separate market.
  • Weaning– Raising calves for veal harvesting requires separate stalls, suggesting that these baby cows are separated from their mother right from birth, leading to no weaning from mother cows. This disrupts the natural feeding process (crucial for mammals) and hampers growth.
  • Drugs– It’s a common practice at many veal farms to treat baby cows with drugs for treating respiratory diseases. Doxycycline is a common drug used in veal raising that is harmful to calves and humans.
  • Cruel farmers– While many veal farmers claim to treat calves with gentleness, the practicality is far from this. There are many cases where veal farmers are found mistreating calves during transportation.
  • Grading– Treating baby cows as money-making machines is not a hidden aspect of veal harvesting. These calves are graded and priced differently depending on their bone, fat, and leanness.
  • Slaughterhouse– Harvesting meat is never free of cruelty. With veal harvesting, it becomes worse as most of the slaughterhouses focus on making bob veal- Slaughtering cows below the age of two weeks.

Veal Calves: Welfare Issues to Must Know

You might not be an advocate for a vegan or vegetarian life, but consuming meat also comes with certain responsibilities that put your humanity to the test. What makes veal extremely criticized is that its harvesting fails to deliver any of the animal welfare parlances, which include-

  • Physical Well Being
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Natural Living

1. Physical Well Being

Calves are raised in extreme conditions for veal harvesting. While they might be kept separately and provided with a rich fibrous diet, these are not ideal conditions for their physical well-being.

  • Diet– Veal raising has a lot to do with diet. Whether for a fiber-rich diet, milk replacer liquid, or vitamin and mineral-less food, calves are never provided with the diet they need for natural and healthy growth.
  • Drugs– Baby cows have different health situations, including respiratory problems or weak bones. Veal farmers often use drugs to treat these issues quickly and prepare them for harvesting.
  • Crates– Rich and tasty veal has a tender and pale flesh. These are not naturally occurring features in calves. Therefore, veal farmers keep calves in crates(narrow cages), restricting their movement and feeding them an unhealthy diet to achieve the desired tenderness in the flesh.

2. Mental Well Being

As you know, veal is meat produced from baby cows, meaning they are separated from their mother at an early age. This stops them from weaning, which impacts not just their physical health but also their mental health.

  • Weaning– Mammals naturally tend to wean at an early stage of life. When baby cows are separated from their mother, they develop a habit of sucking at any object/figure that appears as their mother’s breasts.
  • Transportation– Harvesting veal is done under extreme conditions, often leading to baby cows being subjected to cruel transportation that causes stress and mental fatigue.
  • Housing– Baby cows are kept in farm/dairy housing, especially for raising veal. These houses feature wooden slats that are extremely small for calves to lay down, move, or interact. There have been cases where 80-90 calves are kept in the same house, leaving no space to move. This inevitably impacts their mental well-being as well as physical well-being.

3. Natural Living

Babies deserve and need motherly love when they are born, regardless of them being human babies or cow babies. Baby cows are taken away from their natural living condition as soon as they are born, which can not be justified and is far from their welfare.

Insight Into Bull Calves that are Not Reared

The dairy industry is the first thing that pops up in any person’s head every time veal gets mentioned. An industry that runs solely for profit purposes controls 80% of bulls and cows in the country. While it is their job to care for these animals, they focus on making as much profit as possible.

The process starts with the simple goal of owning the highest number of female cows as they produce milk. In the first stage, cows must birth a calf to produce milk. In the second stage, when calves are born, they are graded into male and female calves. Female calves, if healthy, are reared enough to produce milk, and male calves are sent to slaughterhouses.

Rearing is feeding, raising, and breeding animals crucial for their growth. Unfortunately, the dairy industry is not driven enough to rear their cows and bulls. You might wonder what happens to these calves that are not reared. The answer is simple- Veal Harvesting or Killing.

  • Veal Harvesting– The most common practice for animals that are not breaded is veal harvesting. Every time a mother cow births a male or female calf that can not produce milk, they are sent straight for veal raising and harvesting, which means slaughter. The practice is not limited to this. The dairy industry uses medicines and drugs to treat baby calves to become worthy of veal harvesting, which is beyond inhumane behavior.
  • Killing- This is unpleasant news, but calves not reared or found unfit for veal are killed. Many industries and farmers do this to avoid the cost of raising them or providing them with medical treatments.

Are Hormone Injections Employed for Veal Development?

Hormonal injections are not a new concept for the animal/dairy industry. The US was recorded as the highest beef-producing country in 2018, so hormonal treatments form a major part here. These hormonal treatments are allowed by The Food And Drug Administration as they focus on the healthier and faster growth of cows and bulls.

However, when it comes to hormone injections in calves to make them fit for veal development is controversial.

The dairy industry often uses hormone injections and treatments on female calves for veal raising and harvesting. These injections or treatments focus on cutting down their milk-producing hormones.

The sole reason behind such practices is the higher cost of veal than milk in all parts of the globe. Hormone injections and treatments have always been condemned, banned, and regarded as animal cruelty in many countries.

Explore These Healthier and Cruelty-Free Alternatives

Explore These Healthier and Cruelty-Free Alternatives

We have now established that veal raising and harvesting is nothing but an inhuman practice in reality. Knowing these harvesting practices makes it hard for any person to swallow veal. The question that might pop up in your head is- Are there any higher welfare alternatives to calves? Fortunately, the answer is Yes. Let’s learn more about their alternatives-

  • Production– Extensive indoor or outdoor production is a practice that has gained popularity in recent years as it takes a welfare approach. Under this practice, calves are kept in straw-bedded barns. Each of these farms has small groups of calves that are provided with ample space for free movement and social interaction and are given an adequate diet. Recent research paved the way for healthier rearing, under which these baby cows are left to wean from older/retired cows from the group. This ensures physical and welfare well-being while creating a natural living space for baby cows.
  • Suckler Herds– This method is probably the safest and healthiest veal harvesting alternative. Suckler herds are referred to a group of cows who are not separated from their mothers. Cows and calves are kept in the same farm where baby cows can wean naturally. In addition, these calves are not sent to veal raising or harvesting, thus protecting them from the mental torture of transportation. The practice allows slaughtering without any of those cruel practices.
  • Harvesting standards– Many countries have developed animal harvesting standards/laws based on fundamental animal welfare parlance. Developing such standards in every country producing veal is necessary to avoid cruelty.

Final Thoughts

Veal meat has never been free of criticism and controversies. Once you know, the cruel practice that goes into producing veal is when you understand all the reasons for the uproar. Eating meat remains an integral part of a healthy diet and an important aspect of the food chain.

However, being aware and responsible with food choices creates all the difference. You are not a direct culprit of animal cruelty, but you can do your part to end such practices.

Quitting veal food is not the option animal activists advocate; it is all about first shifting the focus to welfare alternatives. It is time you become mindful about your meat choices and share these details with your friends and family.

Here’s to creating a safer and healthier space for all animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Veal?

Veal is a type of meat produced from calves below 12 months. Veal producing is a process where male or female calves who can not produce milk are sent to slaughterhouses.

Is Veal Cruel?

Yes, Veal production practice is cruel as it includes torturous raising such as unhealthy diet, usage of drugs, and unsettling transportation. However, there are healthier alternatives available for veal harvesting that are not cruel to calves.

What Are Welfare Alternatives to Veal?

Veal harvesting is often regarded as a cruel practice involving major animal welfare issues. The best and most common alternatives include extensive indoor or outdoor production, suckler herds, and harvesting standards.

Are Veal and Beef the Same?

No, veal and beef are not the same. Beef is a type of meat produced from older cattle, while veal is a type of meat harvested specifically from younger cattle- calves.

Why Is Veal Famous?

Veal is considered a healthy and delicious meat that forms a major ingredient in many traditional recipes for cuisines, especially from Italy or France. However, these meals have been prepared in recent years using veal alternatives such as pork or beef.

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