A definition for factory farming posed by Farm Sanctuary describes the practice as follows:
“Factory farming is an attitude that regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit. In animal agriculture, this attitude has led to institutionalized animal cruelty, massive environmental destruction and resource depletion, and animal and human health risks.”
This typically includes cramped and unsanitary conditions, which would apply to much of veal production. Often the animals’ living quarters are so tight that calves can neither lie down comfortably or turn around. Calves raised for veal in these conditions are chronically stressed, requiring far more medication than calves living in a more natural setting.
All this is done in order to produce a tender meat, one that isn’t muscular from exercise, and of course to maximize profits with disregard to the animals’ suffering. This, as Farm Sanctuary points out, is the foundation of factory farming
Part of the reason why veal is often considered an immoral meat to eat is that so much veal does come from factory farms. the calfs are put in boxes and chained around the neck, barely allowed to move, and are fed a diet that is too nutrient-deficient to cause anemia (why veal is a white meat). There is such a thing as free range or organic veal, however, so if you want to eat veal you should probably look specifically for those two particular labels. As with all meats, it is best if you can meet the producers themselves or tour their farm
Yes, absolutely! Most veal farms take surplus calves from dairy farms (where female cows are kept in a state of constant pregnancy to ensure consistent milk flows). Surplus calves are basically male calves, since females are kept and inherit their mother’s legacy as dairy cows. Since male cows are of no use to the dairy industry, young male calves are sold as beef stock or (more commonly), to veal plants, where, as the two previous commenters have noted, they are subjected to really, really horrible living conditions in the interest of keeping their meat young and tender.
This is all the more depressing because of the emotional intelligence of cows — they are one of the only common livestock animals who are subject to intense emotional distress caused by stressful or painful living conditions.
As with all meats, I’m sure there is someone out there making free-range veal, or at least making veal in ways that aren’t totally offensive to even the most basic moral codes in human society (as in the second cited link). But most veal? COMPLETELY. AWFUL.
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