Demand for Veal versus Veal Calves Welfare
Meat demand is rapidly rising around the world; this can be contributed to the economic growth in third world countries. As the third world countries standard of living and buying power increases, so does the demand for the expensive protein, meat. As meat becomes less and less a sign of status and power, the worldwide demand for meat will increase, and this will lead to a need to increase the production of meat in the countries which produce the product . As societies evolve, we must be sure that the animals welfare does not get left behind. As Cathy Liss (2007) says,"we need to promote and insist on a complete overhaul in the way farm animals are kept that brings them back to being animals not meat- or milk-producing machines or objects." Today one can use the booming veal industry to examine and help prevent problems that may arise in the not-so- distant future. Understanding what veal is, how it is raised, and who is buying it can help consumers better understand what is necessary and what can be changed within the industry. Veal is defined by Webster's dictionary (2006) as the flesh of a young calf. This calf is usually a bull calf born to a dairy cow although there are exceptions to this rule. Veal as we know it today had its origins in Europe. According to the Veal Quality Assurance Program & Veal Issues Management (2007), prior to the mid-60s, veal was produced solely in Europe with many U.S. dairy farmers selling skim milk - a natural by-product of butter and cheese processing - to veal producers in the Netherlands. Dutch veal producers found that feeding veal calves a diet of skim milk, whey and fat led to increased weights and improved meat quality. Only after this discovery, did the veal industry make its debut in the United States. When the industry crossed the ocean to the United States, it brought along with it a conventional way to raise the veal calves, crates. These crates are located in barns and confine the calf for 24 hours a day with little or no room to do normal body movements such as turning around. Many times the calves cannot even stretch out their legs when lying down. The calves that are confined to these crates are placed into two categories, white veal and red veal. According to the Veal Quality Assurance Program and Veal Issues Management (2007), white veal is fed a milk-based diet, thus these special-fed calves remain pre-ruminant. The red veal results because once a calf is fed grain; the meat develops the strong flavor that is commonly associated with beef. This is thanks to the rumination process in which the fermentation in the rumen causes the change in texture and flavor of the veal. There is one more class of veal that escapes the crates, bob veal. Bob veal is slaughtered soon after birth, and thus they are never placed in crates, but these calves are a small portion of the market (PETA, 2007). Each country that produces veal has its own rules and regulations to keep the industry safe and healthy for both the calves and the consumers. The ocean gulf between the two main veal producers also demonstrates another gulf, the one between the laws for raising veal. In the past year the European countries have passed a law that forbids the use of veal crates in the veal industry. The EU recently modified the treaty of Amsterdam to include a better definition of animal rights and it reads as follows, ...desiring to ensure improved protection and respect for welfare of animals as sentient beings; in formulating and implementing the Community's agriculture, transport, internal market, and research policies, the Community and Member States shall pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting religious rites, cultural tradition, and regional heritage (Moynagh, 2007 ). Several reports have been adopted on the welfare of animals in intensive production systems, which include veal calves. In the past,...
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