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Rose veal is the official name for humanely raised calves used for meat in the United Kingdom (UK). The name "rose" references the color of the meat which, unlike the white meat of inhumanely raised calves, is pink. In the UK, rose veal is certified humane by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (RSPCA). Humanely raised veal can also be found in the United States but may use a different name. If it is raised humane, however, it will be certified by an animal cruelty prevention organization.
Humanely raised calves live for about six months. During that time, they are given free range in a pasture or field and allowed to remain with, and be fed by, their mothers. As a result, their meat has more taste than traditional veal and contains greater concentrations of a few key nutrients, such as vitamin E.
Veal is acquired from excess calves in the dairy trade. In order for dairy cows to regularly produce milk, they must regularly give birth. Female calves have a place as dairy cows themselves, but male calves can neither produce milk nor be raised for beef. Cattle raised for beef are bred for that purpose and will have superior meat to dairy-bred cattle.
In the past, dairy farmers felt they were left with two options as to how to deal with excess calves: euthanize the male calves after birth or sell them to be used as veal. As veal grew in popularity, more calves were sold rather than euthanized. Then, the conditions in which these calves were being raised was made public.
Traditionally, calves raised for veal are kept in confined spaces where they may not even be able to stand. They are fed formulas that do not meet their nutritional requirements but do contain a multitude of antibiotics and hormones. Once this treatment was made public, sales for veal dropped dramatically and the market shrank. Additionally, the UK outlawed these inhumane practices. As a result, the majority of male calves born in the dairy trade began to be euthanized again.
Rose veal was created as a solution to the inhumane conditions of traditional veal and an alternative to euthanizing. Creating humane conditions allows veal to continue being sold, and the calves to live brief lives. The moniker "rose veal" was invented in order to quickly and obviously indicate humanely raised veal once it reached commercial sales. Although rose veal is the official name in the UK, in the US, this veal may be called many names but is normally endorsed by an organization designed to prevent animal cruelty.