While most adults have a working understanding of the fact that veal is a rather euphemistic term for “baby cow,” many do not make the connection that when they order veal it comes at the cost of a young cow’s life. It’s kind of like when Weird Al uncovered the mystery of where meat comes from – that “A-Ha!” moment when you realize the reality of what’s on your plate. Because really, we don’t know any warm-blooded human who could look into the eyes of a newborn calf and think, yup he looks delicious, when can he be slaughtered? No way! It’s just not something any empathetic person would think.
The reality is, veal calves are a “byproduct” of the dairy industry. Male calves born into a business that only values the lives of female calves, who will one day produce milk for profit. Considered an “excess,” and a drain on precious resources (i.e. their mother’s milk), male dairy calves are taken from their mothers after only a few hours of life and placed into a veal crate. These tiny enclosures are designed to keep the calf from moving any of its newly formed muscles, and a chain is placed around the calf’s neck, rendering them completely immobile. Here, the traumatized calf will live for potentially two months, until they are ready for slaughter. And remember, all the while, the calf (just like a human baby) is terrified, helpless, and crying for their mother.
Veal production is a vicious process, and knowing the pain and suffering that has to occur (inflicted on a sweet innocent baby cow no less) absolutely breaks our hearts. Knowing all this about the veal industry can be disheartening and discouraging, but there are some stories about veal calves who have escaped their fates that give us hope! Thanks to the hard work of many kind individuals, dairy calves that are considered “worthless” by the industry have been saved and allowed to lead amazing lives. Here are a few of their stories:
Meet little Samuel. This calf was rescued by Gaia Sanctuary thanks to the group of kind individuals who saw Samuel as much more than just a “byproduct.” Samuel was born a twin, and in the eyes of the animal agriculture industry, a twin is “surplus.” Because Samuel was the smaller, weaker sibling, he was placed in a veal crate. Thankfully, rescuers from Gaia Sanctuary were on the way.
After a few months on the sanctuary, Samuel began to make friends and became the spritely little calf he was born to be!
Read Samuel’s full story, here.
Maribeth’s story is a bit unique because she was a female born into the dairy industry. While a female calf would be considered valuable to the industry, Maribeth had a severe infection in her back leg that rendered her unable to walk. In the eyes of the farmer, it was highly unlikely that this lame calf would grow into a hearty dairy cow, so she was designated for veal.
A woman who knew the farmer, however, stepped in and asked that Maribeth’s life be spared. With that, Maribeth was rescued by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. She was promptly treated for her leg infection, and although it has been a slow recovery, Maribeth is getting better with time. After her first few treatments she was only allowed a few minutes of “romp” time, where she was allowed to run around the sanctuary. Just watch how joyful she looks!
To read Maribeth’s full story, click here.
Sweet little Woody was rescued at the ripe age of two weeks old. Having known nothing but fear for the first two weeks of his life, Woody was swept away to happy life at Signal Hill Sanctuary when a friend of the sanctuary noticed a local advertisement for several male calves (priced at $20 a piece). When rescuers from the sanctuary came to collect the calves, sadly, all but one had been slaughtered.
Woody was very ill when he was first brought to the sanctuary, and his caretakers feared he would not survive. But, with great patience and persistence, the little calf was nursed back to health. He has now grown into a strong, happy, and very healthy cow thanks to the love and care he was given.
Click here to read Woody’s full story.
4. Bo, Harry, Maverick, Ingram, Tuck and Noah
The story of the six rescued calves of Manning River Farm Animal Sanctuary is sure to warm your heart with happiness. Tara Maher, sanctuary co-founder, firmly states, “Our gorgeous boys, Bo, Maverick, Harry, Ingram, Tuck and Noah are not a waste product, they have an identity, they have life and we have the joy of them in our lives.”
Though all six of these dashing calves were once considered “waste” by the dairy industry they were born into, they are now given the due respect, care, and love they always deserved. Manning River Farm was only a newly formed sanctuary when the first four calves, Bo, Harry, Maverick, and Ingram came to live there. Like Woody, these calves were discovered in an advertisement. Luckily, the people who answered the ad were there to save the calves! After Tuck and Noah came along, the group of orphaned calves banded together and became an adopted family for one another.
Click here to read more about these six dynamic calves.