Even when I was a child, the thought of eating veal repulsed me. I would pout at the dinner table: “But, Mom, that’s a baby cow! I don’t want to eat a baby cow!” Sadly, my mom would trick me by saying the breaded cutlet on my plate was chicken.
Being so young, I didn’t know that most animals killed for meat are actually babies. And I certainly didn’t know that the milk in my glass and the ice cream in my bowl had everything to do with the veal I refused to eat. In fact, the veal and dairy industries are inextricably linked. Surprised? Keep reading.
Like all mammals, cows need to be pregnant or nursing to produce milk. Just like humans, a cow gives birth after nine months.
Once born, calves are callously dragged from their mothers’ sides because farmers want to steal and sell the mothers’ milk. Often, calves and mother cows are kept in such close proximity that they can hear one another’s calls, but they will never meet again. Mother cows are known to bellow for days and weeks after this separation, crying for their stolen babies.
Most female calves are kept to replace older cows in the cruel cycle of milk production at factory farms. Male calves suffer a different fate: veal. They are locked in tiny crates, sometimes even chained, for 18 to 20 weeks before slaughter. The majority of calves raised for veal in the United States are subjected to this intensive confinement and harsh deprivation.
Watch what our drones uncovered.
An undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals at Buckeye Veal Farm in Apple Creek, Ohio, revealed baby calves chained inside two-foot-wide wooden stalls. These stalls did not allow calves to turn around, much less walk, run, play, or socialize with other animals. Calves could not breathe fresh air or see sunlight. They were unable to lie down comfortably or even clean themselves. These crates are so cruel they have been banned in the U.K. since 1990.
In Canada, shocking video footage obtained by MFA at a Delimax veal factory farm in Pont-Rouge, Quebec, led to the conviction of a worker for animal abuse and mistreatment. The graphic video at the major Canadian veal supplier exposed the worker kicking, punching, and beating baby calves; calves chained by the neck and locked inside narrow crates so small the animals couldn’t walk, turn around, or lie down comfortably; and animals suffering from open wounds without proper veterinary care.
The worker was sentenced to pay a $4,000 fine and was prohibited from owning more than five animals for a period of 15 years for violating the Quebec Animal Health Protection Act. As a result of the horrifying exposé, Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec (Quebec Cattle Producers) committed to banning veal crates in favor of loose housing at its member facilities by 2018.
Watch the footage that led to the conviction.
Veal production is undeniably one of the most egregious forms of animal abuse. And please understand that the veal industry does not operate alone—the dairy industry supports it.
Thankfully, compassionate consumers can end their financial support of farmed animal abuse by rejecting veal and other animal products. And with new vegan alternatives to meat and dairy, it’s never been easier to switch to veganism. Click here to get started and click here for our Pinterest page with hundreds of vegan recipes!