Difference Between Veal and Baby Beef

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Veal roasts are often deboned, stuffed and rolled.
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In this age of enlightenment and social consciousness, people are turning away from veal as a meat of choice. Veal meat comes from baby male calves, but this is where the conundrum begins. A calf is born and almost immediately its life expectancy is set. Yet controversary surrounds what happens next in that young calf's life. In some countries, calves can be harvested for meat, at this point it's called veal, at or before birth. In other countries, veal production is banned, according to Fauna Facts. Knowing the difference between veal and beef may help ease your conscious when standing at the meat counter.


Age Matters When Defining Veal Meat

Veal is beef, but not all beef is veal. A male dairy cow is a liability on a dairy farm, which is where veal calves originate, as they don't give milk yet need to be fed. The alternative is to send the male calf to an abattoir (slaughterhouse) before it needs sustenance. A sip of mother's milk is all many male calves are allowed before the deed is done. The younger the calf, the whiter its meat, which defines the quality of the veal at market, according to They Differ.


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Understanding Different Types of Veal

The many varieties of veal are all defined by the age of the calf at slaughter.

  • Bob veal is obtained when the calf is 5-days old.
  • Milk-fed veal comes from calves slaughtered when they are 18-20 weeks old. However, the "milk" part of the name is not actually true. To keep the color of the veal as white as possible, these calves are fed a formula that is deficient in iron, the mineral that causes the meat to darken.
  • Grain fed veal is harvested from calves between 22-26 weeks old.
  • Rose veal comes from calves that are 35 weeks of age and fed on a diet of fiber.


The younger the calf, the more tender the meat. When compared to the meat of a full-frown cow, veal has more fat and calories than beef, and is more expensive.

Baby Cow Meat is Veal

If the slaughter of the calf takes place before the animal turns one-year old, it is considered veal or baby cow meat. Since there are several layers of definition considering the ages of all veal, the youngest calf to provide meat is usually termed a baby cow.


Only in the cattle industry is there such a widespread definition of veal and the terms used to categorize them. It's when marketing comes into the equation that gentler terms are used. Which would you rather buy – a package labeled baby cow, or veal? Let your conscious decide!



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