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If you buy veal, buy British

Look out for our Good Dairy Award and Good Calf Commendation winners

Buying British veal (or beef from animals born into the dairy industry) helps ensure that more male dairy calves are reared in the UK, and not shot at birth or exported on long journeys to continental veal farms.

Compared with EU standards, British law gives veal calves bedding, more space as the calves grow, and provide more essential roughage and iron in the diets of young calves.

No more veal crates

Thanks to Compassion in World Farming's campaigns, veal became a dirty word in Britain in the 1980s and ‘90s, a time when veal crates were used throughout Europe. These crates – which make it impossible for the calves to even turn around – are now banned, not only in the UK, but across the entire European Union.

Sadly, they are still legal in many places, including the US.

Avoid ‘white’ veal

Much of Europe’s veal is still white – this means the calves are reared without sufficient access to roughage and hence iron in their diet, which leads to anaemia and is a welfare issue. The more pink or rose veal produced in the UK is indicative of better nutrition and welfare for the calf.

What’s the long term answer?

Compassion in World Farming is working with the RSPCA, leading farming groups, food industry companies and the government, to implement an all-industry voluntary agreement to phase out the live export of calves and shooting at birth. All the partners in the Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholder Forum are playing their part to ensure calves are reared to higher welfare standards for beef and veal in the UK. We support British veal and beef from the dairy industry reared to higher welfare standards – it ensures calves have a better quality of life and addresses the ethical issue of waste.

Whilst there is as yet no 'calf friendly' label on milk and dairy products, or guarantee that male dairy calves have not been exported or shot at birth, some supermarkets like Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose, The Cooperative and Sainsbury’s have begun ensuring  male dairy calves are reared as part of their beef or, in some cases, veal supply.

Currently, only Soil Association organic, and RSPCA Assured (formerly RSPCA Freedom Food) certification schemes ensure  male dairy calves have not been exported on long journeys to continental veal farms.

Good Dairy Awards

Our awards recognise companies that commit to using higher welfare production systems for dairy cows and calves throughout their supply chain. Full award winners utilise the calves reared into the dairy farms used for their milk supply, whilst Commendation winners provide specialist calf rearing facilities for calves bought-in from the dairy industry.

Find winning companies using higher welfare systems for calves, on our Good Dairy Awards and Good Calf Commendation website.

Find out more


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If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).