Veal Veal is the meat of young cattle slaughtered between 3 and 14 weeks old, generally male cows (bulls) or steers. Veal can come from other young cattle but it must be labeled as such for consumers to know that the animal was not raised for its meat. The flavor is described as delicate, the color as pale grayish-white, and the texture as velvety. It has no marbling (fat within the meat) and the small amount of fat covering is white.
Veal is popular as flavorful and low-fat meat. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has stated that veal calves may be more susceptible to certain diseases than non-veal calves and this fact should be made clear on labels of veal products: "Calves that are raised for veal can be more susceptible to certain diseases than calves raised for other purposes. For this reason, labels that identify veal products should include a statement that indicates that the animals were raised in a controlled environment."
A popular misconception is that the meat's color comes from feeding the animal with iron-rich supplements; rather, it comes naturally from myoglobin, an iron-binding protein abundant in muscle tissue.
Veal is a source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and other nutrients that are present naturally or artificially added during production. The nutrient composition of veal can be found here: Fresh Veal Nutrition Facts.
Fresh veal bones have been valued as a medicinal item for centuries due to their high concentration of bone gelatin (1-2%). Veal bones were also sometimes used as a substitute for the human cranium in preparations of "memento mori".
The European Community enacted legislation in 1982 to protect names of regional foods. Under this legislation, only those terms originating in a specific region can be used as geographical indications for the purpose of identifying the particular product. "Prosecco" is an example of a regional wine that is labeled accordingly (Italy). Although the legislation was implemented only within the confines of Europe, it inspired similar legislation elsewhere in the world, such as Australia and South America.
Veal can also be labeled by naming what it's cut from: "shoulder," "loin," and "round." For example "shoulder clod veal" means that it comes from bulls, steers, or other castrates who have not been through the beef growth process.
Veal is popular in many cuisines for its flavor and color. It can be found in Italian dishes like tortellini en brodo (in broth), pajata (with intestines), and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail). It can be found in some Indian foods like kathi rolls, where it is mixed with paneer, spices, and many other ingredients.
Global veal production
Veal global production has been declining in recent years. In 2013, veal production totaled 1.33 million tons, down from 1.40 million tons in 2012 and 1.46 million tons in 2011. The decline is largely due to a decrease in demand for veal as a result of public awareness of the conditions under which many calves are raised.
In the European Union, veal production totaled 1.18 million tons in 2013, down from 1.23 million tons in 2012. Italy is the largest producer of veal in the EU, followed by Spain and the Netherlands. Outside of the EU, the United States is the largest producer of veal, with production totaling 119,000 tons in 2013. Other major veal-producing countries include Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
Veal is typically produced from male dairy calves that are kept in cramped conditions and fed a diet that is low in iron and other nutrients to produce the characteristic pale color of veal meat. These conditions often lead to poor welfare for the calves. In response to public concern, some veal producers have adopted methods that improve the welfare of calves, such as housing them in group pens and providing them with a higher-quality diet.
Despite these improvements, veal production remains controversial due to the inherent cruelty involved in confining animals for their entire lives and killing them for food.