Veal vs Beef: The Main Differences Revealed

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Guide, Meat

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Both veal and beef are types of red meat which are derived from cows. As such many people often believe that veal and beef are the same when in actuality they have several differences. With that said, below we’ll explore the key differences between veal vs beef.

Table of Contents

Veal Vs Beef: What Are They?

Before we can get into how they differ it is important to understand what veal and beef are. As mentioned before they are both types of red meat derived from cows. However, the difference between them fundamentally comes down to the age of the cow when it was slaughtered.

What Is Veal?

Veal is red tender meat harvested from both bull and cow calves. Like with beef, veal can be cut from calves of either gender. However, male calves are typically used since veal meat most commonly comes from dairy cows.

When talking about veal, however, it’s important to remember that this is an umbrella term. This is because there are actually four different subcategories of veal. These are as follows: 

Bob Veal

This is veal cut from the youngest of calves with bob veal being harvested from calves slaughtered within five days of birth.

Veal vs Beef: The Main Differences Revealed

Milk Fed Veal

Milk fed veal is taken from calves who are more mature but still at the point of being milk fed. As such this type of veal is derived from calves between the ages of eighteen to twenty weeks old.

Grain Fed Veal

Also known as red veal, this veal is again taken from slightly older calves once again. These will be at the point where they have moved on to eating grain instead of drinking milk. This stage is typically between the twenty-two and twenty-six-week range of a calf’s life.

Rose Veal

This is the oldest form of veal that is typically harvested. This will be done when the calf is in mid-adolescence at the age of thirty-five weeks.

What Is Beef?

Whilst veal is red meat from calves, beef on the other hand is red meat from beef cattle consisting of adult cows and bulls. Typically beef will be harvested from heifers and steers. Heifers are immature female cows, while steers are young males that have been castrated.

Veal vs BeefWhat Are Differences

If Both Veal and Beef Are From Cows, Then Are They Different?

Since both veal and beef just come from cows of different ages you may be wondering if they are actually different. Whilst it is true that there are some fundamental similarities, equally, there are inevitably some major differences between veal and cuts of beef

Veal Vs Beef: How Are They Different?

A major difference between veal and beef is that whilst both can be derived from bulls they are typically from separate types of cow. Veal for instance is harvested from slaughtered dairy calves whilst beef is harvested from beef cows.

The difference is that dairy cows are bred for milk production which makes them leaner. However, the males aren’t useful for milk production so will instead be slaughtered at a younger age to harvest veal.

Meanwhile, beef cattle are specifically bred to be harvested for beef. As such they will often be stockier and broader than dairy cattle. Additionally, the meats from beef cows will be harvested from older cattle who unlike cows used for veal will have reached maturity.

Red Meat Cuts Of Veal And Beef

One thing that is shared by veal and beef is that you will be able to acquire the same cut types of veal as you would beef. The different cuts of veal and beef meat are as follows:

  • Chuck: This is the shoulder
  • Brisket: The breast
  • Shank: The lower breast area/upper thigh
  • Rib: The upper section of ribs where cuts like rib eye and prime rib come from
  • Sirloin: Between the rib and rump, nearer the rump
  • Short Loin: Between the rib and rump nearer the rib
  • Short Rib: The lower ribs, which are shorter
  • Plate: The forward belly area 
  • Flank: The back belly area
  • Round/Top Round: Lower backside
  • Rump: Upper backside
  • Oxtail: The tail

Taste And Texture Of Veal and Beef

The taste and texture of veal compared to beef is different: it’s much more delicate and tender meat. As a result, this veal is often considered to be easier to digest than beef. Additionally, it is much more lean meat with a much paler appearance ranging from an off white to “rose” depending on the age of the calf.

Meanwhile, beef is known to have a much stronger taste and a coarser texture than veal. Additionally beef is typically more fatty than veal, as such, it is often considered to be less healthy.

Culinary Uses Of Beef And Veal

Veal and beef can be used near enough interchangeably in the kitchen to make a variety of dishes. These can include stews, steaks, burgers or anything in between.

The main difference between using them in cooking though is that the time the same cuts of veal and beef can drastically vary in cooking time. Typically cuts for medium and medium rare steaks like sirloin will take roughly the same amount of time. However, if cooking roast beef or a stew can take significantly longer for the meat to be cooked. 

Nutritional Differences Of Veal And Beef

Whilst there is a notable difference in appearance, taste and texture between beef and veal, the differences in nutritional value are much more pronounced. There will be inevitably similar amounts for some nutrition. However, two pieces of veal and beef of the same size and cut can also drastically differ in surprising ways. 

Beef vs Veal: What's the Difference


Out of the two foods, veal is much richer in vitamins. Especially B vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5 and B9. Additionally, veal also contains significantly more vitamin E.

However, veal completely lacks vitamin A which beef is quite abundant in. Alongside this, though beef also contains more than twice the amount of vitamin B12 when compared to veal.

Some commonalities between the two, however, is that they both lack any traces of vitamins C and D. Despite this though, they both contain equivalent amounts of vitamins B6 and K.


Like with vitamins, the concentration of minerals in veal and beef varies greatly. Beef for instance contains significantly higher amounts of zinc, selenium and iron. The latter of which being as a result of the higher concentration of myoglobin in beef than in veal.

Meanwhile, veal is much richer in the minerals magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and choline. However, they contain equal amounts of the minerals potassium and calcium. 

Calories And Macronutrients

In terms of pure density, beef is much richer in macronutrients than veal as it contains much less water content. Both, however, are quite high in calories, although beef is more so than veal. 

This can be seen in the calorie counts for one hundred grams of each meat. This amount of beef will contain roughly two hundred and fifty calories. Meanwhile, an equivalent portion of veal will contain roughly one hundred and seventy.

The total amount of fats found is higher than that of veal. However, veal contains much more unsaturated fatty acids whilst beef contains more saturated fat. Despite being lower in saturated fat though, veal is higher in cholesterol.

Just like most meat, beef and veal contain next to no carbohydrates. Beef does contain slightly more protein though. However, the presence of significantly more amino acids in veal makes it a better source of protein.


At the point of slaughter, the acidity of both veal and beef will be at their peak. Following this, the acidity will slowly reduce until it reaches a point where the meat will start to decompose. 

Beef and veal have similar ranges on the pH scale with beef lying between 5.3 and 5.7, whilst veal sits between 5.5 to 6.1. All in all, what this means is that beef is on average slightly more acidic than veal.

Glycemic Index

Since beef and veal contain little to no carbohydrates, their placement on the glycaemic index sits at zero. This index is used to help people figure out how much various foods will increase their blood sugar. As such it can be determined that veal and beef have little to no effect on blood sugar.

Impacts On Health

Both veal and beef can easily be incorporated into diets to try to lose weight. In particular, lean and unprocessed red meat can be beneficial in moderation for low carbohydrate diets. However, processed meats and those containing high amounts of saturated fat such as beef can cause weight gain when not consumed in moderation.

Aside from weight loss and weight gain, both veal and beef have several impacts on your physical health. Some of these are benefits, however, there are also some downsides.


Lean beef and veal can be beneficial for both cardiovascular health along with alleviating aspects of type two diabetes. This is because unprocessed red meat that is low in saturated and calories provides many benefits to the body.

Veal vs Beef


Despite the possible benefits of red meat like beef and veal for your cardiovascular health along with diabetes, there are also potential risks and downsides. 

When red meat is consumed, there is the risk of it having detrimental negative effects due to the presence of the chemical trimethylamine N-oxide. This chemical is often found in the blood after consumption of red meat, hence the association.

For diabetes, the presence of iron and dietary cholesterol found in red meat can be hazardous as both are linked to helping cause type two diabetes in the first place. As such if consuming red meat, veal is likely the safe option for diabetics due to containing less iron and dietary cholesterol.

Processed red meat in particular has also been linked for many years to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. These include colorectal, nasopharynx, lung, pancreas, breast and prostate cancers. However, it could also potentially contribute to other kinds of cancer as well.

In Summary: The Differences Between Veal And Beef

Veal and beef despite both coming from cows are quite different from one another. Beef is derived from older cattle and is much darker meat that is stronger in taste and coarser in texture. Meanwhile, veal is harvested from calves and is more delicate and tender than beef.

Additionally, whilst both have health benefits and drawbacks, veal tends to be healthier and more nutritious. This is because it contains more beneficial nutrients whilst being lower in saturated fats than beef. Despite this, however, beef is lower in cholesterol.

As such whilst veal is often considered the healthiest option along with the most delicious, hence the premium in price. However, many may be put off by how veal is made along with how it comes from potentially infant calves.


Why is veal more expensive than beef?

The reason for veal being more expensive than beef is that it is often less commonly produced. This is because a lot of work has to be done to produce the pale delicate meat that high-quality veal is known for. As such due to the limited supply and amount of work, the demand for veal often exceeds the supply.

Why is veal cruel?

Veal is often considered to be cruel due to the process required to acquire bob veal, which is often considered the best type. This involves separating new-born calves from their mothers, penning them so they can barely move and intentionally feeding them an iron-deficient diet. As a result, the creation of veal is often seen as torturing the young calf to death.