Huffington Post Green* published an article titled, The Real Veal: Sourcing and Cooking Humanely-Raised Veal, penned by chef Kurt Michael Friese. And good gravy, this article is a mess.
Friese makes the claim that one can still eat veal (baby calves) and still maintain your ethics (which ones he doesn’t specify). The premise of his argument seems to be that if the veal (baby calves) are raised happily and at their parents side, then it’s okay to slaughter them for food.
I’ve talked about the oxymoron of happy meat before so I won’t go into that here. The fact is, the longest that veal (baby calves) can expect to live happily next to their parents side is approximately 35 weeks- or, nearly 9 months. The average time veal (baby calves) is kept alive is 24-26 weeks. After that they are sent to slaughter. That’s the best case scenario. In some cases (1 million cases a year) veal, such as bob veal, are slaughtered at 5 days old.
The veal industry is a direct result of the dairy industry. Like other mammals, a cow will only produce milk once she’s given birth. In order to get a continuous supply of milk, farmers will repeatedly impregnate dairy cows (in high and unnatural cycles) to keep them producing milk- for their babies, which we take away to be used as veal. Meanwhile the mother of the calf cries and searches for her lost young. Just like a human would if a human lost her child.
I don’t see how any of that is ethical. But Friese has the answer for that too. In the comments he wrote:
Nature most certainly DID intend on having these and countless other “babies” taken from their mothers sides and killed for food. All predators do that. It’s just that most are not kind enough to let them have any semblance of a content and pain free life before they are taken.
I am a human, a member of the animal kingdom. I consider myself no better or worse, more or less important than any other animal. My body is designed to be an omnivore and so that’s what I am. I have no problem whatsoever with those of you who choose not to eat veal or to be vegetarian, or to be vegan. Good on ya, your life, do what you want. But I reject out of hand the constant berating I receive from evangelical vegans who believe I and a majority of the human race are hellspawn because we eat meat. It just ain’t so.
Look, in order for anyone to live, something has to die. You cannot prove that an animal has a “soul” or some such, just as you cannot prove that a plant does not. Unless we are going to reject ten millennia of agriculture and forage for all our food, we are going to raise that food ourselves on farms. We should treat it well, and then we should harvest it, so that we can feed our families and our communities, whether that food is from the plant or animal kingdoms.
So there you have it. Since we can’t prove that cows have a soul, we can pretty much do whatever the hell we want to them. You’re just being evangelical to oppose such a thing. And the most ironic part? Friese telling us to treat the animals well. If we were really treating the animals well, we would stop forcing repeated pregnancies on animals only to take the resulting children away and slaughtering them. Further, humans aren’t predators when they breed, raise, and slaughter domesticated animals in captivity for food.
And just because- “soul” is defined as, “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.”
*Running a pro-animal agribusiness piece on Huffington Post Green is ironic given that everyone knows by now that raising animals for food is one of the worst environmentally destructive things we are (still) doing today.