Lamb vs. Veal: Understanding the Differences

What Is The Difference Between Lamb and Veal

Lamb and veal are both cuts of meat that come from young animals, but some confusion exists in differentiating between the two.  Both are considered prime cuts, and both are generally expensive.  The prices can vary slightly. 

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

Is veal a baby lamb or a baby cow?

Veal comes from calves, whereas beef comes from older heads of cattle. The meat can be produced from male or female calves, and from any breed.

The majority of veal calves come from the dairy industry and are young males that are not used for breeding purposes. However, some veal calves are intentionally for this purpose. 

Quick Sidenote – check out our shop for a curated selection of the best meats, cuts, sausages, and more. Open our shop in a new tab and explore!

Lamb is a cut of meat that comes from the offspring of adult sheep. Both the animal itself and the meat that is derived from it are referred to as lamb. If the animal is slaughtered after the age of 12 months, the meat is referred to as mutton.

Which is better, veal or lamb?

Whether veal or lamb is better depends on multiple factors. For instance, in terms of environmental impact, lamb is better than veal, but there are other considerations as well, many of which depend on the individual. 

There are also long-standing ethical issues surrounding the production of veal, in particular, but animal rights groups also protest lamb processing and characterize both as cruel.

It can be surmised that each type of meat has both good qualities and undesirable ones, but whether one is better than the other is subjective. 

Environmental impact

The production of veal is an unsustainable practice that is destructive to land. Its solid waste runoff is known to harm healthy soil and freshwater. Forests are destroyed to provide enough land to produce enough feed for beef, and the cycles that this creates result in dead zones in the oceans, extinction of certain animal species, the destruction of important animal habitats, and water pollution.

Lamb, on the other hand, runs a close second. The production of lamb as meat generates a higher protein to greenhouse gas ratio than any other animal except beef.

Furthermore, the production of both meat from both sheep and cows results in twice the land usage than would be required if neither were produced for human consumption. Both veal and lamb are fairly expensive compared other meats.

Nutritional value

In terms of nutritional value, lamb outweighs veal in this area, because it is higher in more of the important nutrients needed by the human body. Lamb has more than 9 times the Vitamin B12 and nearly 4 times the Vitamin K than veal.

It also has a higher protein content and twice as much iron. Veal has higher cholesterol but is lower than lamb in overall fat and, more importantly, saturated fat. It also has 3 times the vitamin B6 as lamb, more phosphorus, and a greater amount of vitamin B5.

What is the difference between lamb and veal in terms of taste?

Determining whether veal or lamb tastes better is a matter of personal preference. Both veal and lamb are characterized as being tender, delicate cuts of meat.

Lamb Meat Lamb vs. Veal: Understanding the Differences
Grilled Lamb sirloin fillet meat on wooden board with herbs, mutton loin steak.

However, lamb is noted for having a stronger flavor and a more tender texture than veal, and while the veal is said to have a more delicate flavor, the texture is tougher than that of lamb.

The breed, cut and conditions in which the animals have been raised partially help to determine the variety of each animal’s offerings.  The conditions under which the animal’s mothers were raised can also contribute.

This also goes far in the strength and variety of its flavors, nutritional composition, and texture of the meat.

The flavor of veal can vary, depending upon whether or not the calves were formula-fed, milk-fed, or non-formula-fed. It also matters whether or not they were raised in a pasture, cage-free or both.

Veal Meat Lamb vs. Veal: Understanding the Differences
Gourmet Veal Medallions

Veal calves are slaughtered between the ages of around three hours and up to one month old and are noted for their particularly tender, mild-flavored meat.

A key difference between lamb and veal is that the flavor of lamb is largely determined by a type of fatty acid that veal calves do not possess. This gives the meat its characteristic gamey flavor. The flavor of lamb also relies on the animal’s diet.

Different types of grasses, for instance, yield differences in flavor. Lambs that are raised in America tend to be fed grain for the last month of their lives, while lambs in other countries, such as Australia, are fed grass for the duration of their lives.

The lambs that are fed grain do not produce the same quantities of fatty acids that those lambs that are fed on grass alone do. Therefore, their meat is milder and less distinctive in flavor.

A way that the diner can intentionally reduce the stronger flavor of lamb is to cut away the fat. A leg of lamb, for instance, can be butterflied to expose small pockets of fat that can be trimmed as a matter of preference.

Cuts of veal compared to cuts of lamb

Cuts of veal consist of the chuck or shoulder, the sirloin or hip, the rib, the shank or breast, the short plate, and the round or the flake.

Conversely, lamb cuts are called the rack or rib of lamb, the square-cut shoulder, the leg, the loin, the breast, shanks, neck, and flank.

Some recipes call for specific cuts of meat, but in many cases, it is perfectly acceptable to substitute lamb meat for veal. Many cuts of beef that are usually tough are often valued from veal since they have the same flavor, but are more tender, such as in Country Fried Steak.

However, for the purist, the substitution is not considered equal. The flavor of lamb is stronger than that of veal and can change the intended composition of the dish.

Recommended methods of cooking veal and lamb

A major Chicago meat purveyor recommends braising veal over very low heat. Alternatively, grilling, stewing, broiling, stir-frying, roasting, and sauteing veal are good ways to make the most of the meat.

For cooking lamb, world-renowned chef, Gordon Ramsey, recommends cooking lamb by lightly searing it initially before basting it with herb-infused garlic butter. This is followed by an oven finish in which the meat is cooked until it is heated through, but it should also be pink and moist in the middle.

He also recommends cooking a rack of lamb by applying mustard and herb-infused paste to the surface before roasting it in the oven. Both lamb and veal are versatile and are suitable for a wide range of recipes and cooking methods.

More FAQs

Which is better veal or lamb?

Veal and lamb have distinct qualities, making it difficult to determine which is better. However, if you prefer a mild and tender meat, veal would be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you desire a more robust flavor, lamb may be more suitable. It is worth noting that veal is a leaner option, making it a good alternative to lamb or beef if you are concerned about saturated fat intake. Nonetheless, this does not mean you cannot enjoy lamb occasionally.

Does veal taste like lamb?

Veal does not taste like lamb. Veal, which is meat from calves, has a neutral flavor similar to beef. On the other hand, lamb, which comes from young sheep, has a more intense and gamey taste compared to veal.

Does veal taste like beef?

Veal does not taste like beef, despite coming from the same animal. It has a mild and neutral flavor, with a subtle hint of sweetness. This makes it a versatile meat that pairs well with both heavy and light seasonings. Due to its subtle taste, veal can easily absorb and enhance various flavors.

Is lamb a baby sheep?

Lamb is the term used to describe both the meat and the young sheep themselves, until they reach one year of age. At that point, the sheep are called hoggets, although the meat may still be labeled and sold as “lamb.”

How old is lamb when it goes to slaughter?

The age at which lambs go to slaughter varies, but most are typically slaughtered between 10 weeks and 6 months old. However, it is worth noting that some lambs may be as old as 14 months when they are slaughtered. To gain a better understanding of the welfare concerns related to sheep, it is important to explore some of the key issues associated with their well-being.

Is lamb considered a red meat?

Lamb is indeed classified as a red meat due to its higher myoglobin content compared to chicken or fish. The presence of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of the meat. Alongside lamb, other red meats include beef, veal, and pork.

Is veal a baby lamb or cow?

Veal is obtained from male calves, or baby cattle, that are slaughtered when they are only a few months old. Male calves in the dairy industry have a bleak future as they are frequently killed shortly after birth or confined to veal crates, which are small plastic huts with a fenced area that barely accommodates a calf’s standing position.

Is veal illegal in the United States?

Veal is not illegal in the United States as it is legally sold, with bob veal coming from calves as young as a few weeks old, while veal calves are typically around 18 weeks old before slaughter.

What is baby veal called?

The term used to refer to baby veal is “bob veal.” Baby veal, also known as bob veal, refers to calves that are 2-3 days to 1 month old and have carcasses weighing between 9 to 27 kilograms. Vealers, on the other hand, are calves that are 4 to 12 weeks old and have carcasses weighing between 36 to 68 kilograms. Additionally, calves that are up to 20 weeks old are referred to as calves.

What is veal meat called?

Veal meat is the term used to refer to the meat of an animal that is between 15 weeks and one year old, although it is technically called calf.

What age is veal slaughtered?

Veal is slaughtered at 18 to 20 weeks of age, during which “red” veal calves are fed milk replacer along with grain and hay, and are given the freedom to move about in spacious pens. However, due to the confinement conditions, some calves may become so debilitated that they require assistance when being transported to the slaughterhouse.

What is lamb meat called?

Lamb meat is the term used to refer to the meat of a sheep in its first year. The meat of sheep in their second year is known as hogget, while older sheep meat is called mutton. However, it is worth noting that the terms “hogget” and “sheep meat” are not commonly used by consumers outside of Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland, and Australia.

What is lamb meat called in USA?

Lamb meat in the USA is commonly referred to as such, although it is worth noting that most American-raised lamb actually comes from older sheep, known as mutton. This is because there is no age restriction in the US for labeling sheep meat as “lamb.” The USDA does not provide a clear distinction between lamb and mutton, allowing any sheep meat that is 24 months and under to be labeled as lamb.

What meat does lamb taste like?

Lamb has a taste that is reminiscent of beef, but with a distinct gamey flavor that becomes more pronounced as you chew. If you keep a piece of lamb in your mouth for a little longer, you will notice this gamey taste, which is similar to the flavor of meats obtained through hunting, such as deer meat.

What is baby cow meat called?

Baby cow meat is called veal, which is the meat of calves. It is different from beef, which comes from older cattle. Veal can be obtained from both male and female calves of any breed, but it is mostly sourced from young male calves of dairy breeds that are not used for breeding purposes.

What is the difference between lamb and veal chops?

The difference between lamb and veal chops lies in their taste and seasoning requirements. Lamb chops have a stronger flavor compared to veal chops, necessitating more seasoning to balance it out. On the other hand, veal chops do not require as much seasoning as their flavor is milder. Despite their differing tastes, both lamb and veal chops share the same level of tenderness, which is notably higher than that of their adult counterparts.

Why is veal more controversial than lamb?

Veal is considered more controversial than lamb due to the way some veal calves are raised. Generally, veal calves are male dairy calves separated from their mothers within the first few days, if not the first day, of their lives. They are then kept in small huts and fed milk through bottles or buckets, rather than being nursed. This practice often sparks controversy and debates.

What animal is veal?

Veal is the meat obtained from a calf or young beef animal, typically raised until they reach around 16 to 18 weeks of age and weigh up to 450 pounds. The veal industry primarily utilizes male dairy calves, as they hold little or no value to dairy farmers who require female calves for milk production.

Similar Posts