A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

When does veal become beef?

May 10, 1999

Dear Straight Dope:

I asked this question on the message board, but I'm really curious about it, so I'll ask here too. When does veal cease to be veal and become beef?

Hey Rick!

According to some butchers I've talked to, veal is the flesh of a milk-fed calf. When the calf is weaned onto grass/grain, then the tenderness and taste that veal is famous for is lost, and it becomes beef. When is that? Most calves are weaned at around the one year old mark ... so there you have it.

SDSTAFF Dex adds:

David Feldman, in When Do Fish Sleep?, addresses the question, when does a calf become a cow? Extracting from that, the answer is, after it stops nursing, usually about seven or eight months of age. After they are weaned and/or when they reach twelve months, they are referred to as yearling bulls or yearling calves.

So, to amplify Melis's answer, we have: after it stops nursing, from seven months to one year old.

SDSTAFF Melis and

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