Rethinking Veal

Most people—like me—don’t eat veal because of the anxiety and self-loathing that comes from eating the succulent, pale flesh of a young cow. The white color itself isn’t what’s unappetizing for many; it’s how that white color is attained. Veal comes from immobilized calves fed a powdered-milk-based liquid. Hence, many hypocritical and/or penny-pinching carnivores—like me—try not to eat it.
But the story behind veal is more complex than the sadistic restraint and slaughter of baby cows. Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry. Cows, like other mammals, need offspring to produce milk. So farmers will artificially inseminate them to maintain milk production. As the dairy cows age, the farmers breed them with dairy-pedigreed bulls for new, milk-producing heifers. A female calf is perfect. Male calves are useless, because dairy cows are not good meat cows. The useless male calves are—there’s no other way to say this—either shot or raised as veal. The veal route, inhumane as it sounds, is better; at least the animals have some purpose. The slaughter isn’t senseless. It just leaves the uncomfortable problem of eating a baby cow.
Fortunately, smart farmers have begun selling “pink” veal, which is better (if you can get over the whole “eating-a-baby-animal” thing). In allowing the calves to move and eat grains or grass, the meat takes on a rosy hue. The wise farmer stops losing money and appears more humane. Ultimately, the calves get a better life before slaughter. And hypocritical meat eaters—like me—can silence their dithering consciences. And one other thing: according to, pink veal tastes better.


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