Cooking Farming Thinking

Veal: the tender meat with ethical credentials

27th June 2018

Farmdrop is selling a new selection of limited edition ‘rare meats’ with bold flavours and unique heritage. We’ll be profiling each new release so keep your eyes peeled for new announcements. First up… veal.

Veal meat has been revered by food lovers for centuries. A succulent and tender meat, historically reserved for celebrations, the ‘fatted calf’ is the centrepiece of many famous european dishes like Vitello tonnato and Wiener schnitzel. Unfortunately, mainstream veal production has been undermined by blatant animal cruelty. Fortunately for all of us who don’t want to compromise welfare for taste, a group of British farmers are showing that this fabulous meat can be produced in an ethical way.

What is it?

Veal is meat from a young calf, and typically a male from a dairy herd. Dairy cows must produce calves to make milk but the males have no value, meaning they are either shot at birth or exported to Europe in terrible conditions. Neither of these outcomes are fair to the animal. The answer?  ‘Cow with calf” Pasture For Life Rosy Veal. 

‘Cow with calf’ Rosy Veal is a totally new approach to British veal. Horton House and The Ethical Dairy are pioneering a unique way of dairy farming; one that keeps calves with cows for a minimum of 6 months to suckle naturally while grazing diverse organic pastures. Reared to between 8 and 16 months of age, Rosy Veal is a lighter cut of beautifully vibrant and nutrient rich beef which is well suited to fast and convenient cooking, and with all the health benefits of animals raised 100% on milk and grass. The meat is hung for 1-2 weeks. Certified Organic and Pasture for Life.

Why has veal got a reputation?

Veal meat got a terrible reputation in the 1980s owing to the appalling welfare conditions male calves were kept in. Reared in confined crates, with no room to turn around, and fed a low iron diet to preserve the white colour of the meat, veal came to epitomise everything that was wrong with intensive animal farming. Fortunately, crate conditions like this have been banned since 1990 in the UK and since 2007 in the EU.

Why are people eating it?

In truth, not many people are, and that’s the problem. Veal accounts for just 0.1% of meat bought in Britain today. Low demand means dairy farmers often find it easier to kill male calves at birth or export them to Europe where welfare standards are lower.

As an unavoidable by-product of the dairy industry, it’s much better for everyone involved if we develop a taste for it. Thankfully, a new generation of British farmers are pioneering a dairy system that is as closely aligned with what nature intended as we currently get. It’s a food system where everyone wins – the farmers, the cows, the land and the conscious consumer. That’s without even going into the environmental benefits associated with rearing cows for a combination of beef and dairy, rather than one or the other.

Veal from Farmdrop

Farmdrop’s new selection of ethical rosy veal and ex dairy cow beef comes from Horton House Organic Farm in Wiltshire. Horton House are partnering with The Ethical Dairy under a joint initiative called the “Proper Food Collective”. Both are pioneering a unique way of dairy farming; one that keeps calves with their mothers to suckle naturally while grazing diverse organic pastures in a system where the cow’s diet is 100% pasture. On these farms, everyone gets their fair share! The products that Farmdrop will be launching from this initiative reflect everything that is happening on these special farms.

This ethical approach to dairying is based around treating the animals, the land, our environment and people with respect and kindness. By harnessing the power of the natural ecological functions on farm and applying regenerative principles, both farms are proving that high quality and nutritious dairy and beef can be produced efficiently alongside each other. Valuing all outputs from the farm means that they are effectively creating a “closed loop food system”, showing that these kinder farming methods can be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

How to eat it

For the escalopes, try classic veal Milanese. Simply coat the escalope in flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs before frying in a hot pan with oil and butter until golden on each side. Serve with a light salad. For the veal mince, try using it as a richer alternative in your next Bolognese or for your next batch of homemade burgers. 

Check out Farmdrop’s range of ethical rosy veal here


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