What’s the Difference Between Veal and Beef Taste?

Living in a region where you can find beef and veal meat, it’s easy to differentiate between both meat types, especially when you’re on the carnivore side too.

Since veal and beef are easily accessible for me, I can tell you how different both types of meat taste. If you throw me in a blindfold taste test, I’ll 100% win it.

Well, today’s blog post isn’t about a blindfold test. I have just compared both types of meat by sharing my thoughts to help you easily differentiate between veal and beef tastes.

Let’s jump into the details.

A Word on Veal vs. Beef: Sources

What is veal, and what does it taste like?

Veal meat comes from up to 8 months old calves, known as young cows. Veal is typically produced from male calves of dairy breeds, as these calves are not used for breeding. Calves are typically slaughtered at a young age, between 20 and 26 weeks old, even in some cases, younger than this.

There are two main types of veal: 

  • Milk-fed male calves are raised on special formula milk and recognized as milk-fed veal by USDA; they’re slaughtered at 20 to 24 weeks, weighing 200 to 230 kg (450 to 500 lb). The veal coming from the milk replacer is white.
  • Grain-fed veal has distinct differences in taste because of the differences in their diets and rearing practices. These calves are raised on solid food like grains besides milk and are slaughtered at 22 to 26 weeks when they weigh 290 to 320 kg (650 to 700 lb).

Milk-fed veal taste: what to expect?

Milk-fed veal, also known as “white veal,” has pale-colored meat with a tender and mild flavor. The restricted diet of formula milk prevents the calves from developing much muscle, resulting in a tender texture. 

The flavor of milk-fed veal can be described as subtle, mild, and slightly sweet. It has a delicate and buttery taste that some culinary enthusiasts highly prize.

For this reason, white veal is pretty expensive, despite the fact it’s less nutritious and lacks iron.

Grain-fed veal: what to expect? 

Grain-fed veal also referred to as “red veal” or “rosé veal,” is produced by feeding calves a diet that includes grain or forage, along with milk or milk replacer. This feeding method allows the calves to develop more muscle, resulting in a slightly darker color, iron-rich meat compared to milk-fed veal. 

Grain-fed veal has a firmer texture and a bit richer flavor compared to milk-fed veal. The taste can be described as more robust and beef-like, although still more delicate and milder than regular beef.

What is beef, and what does it taste like?

Beef refers to the meat obtained from bovines, specifically cattle, and it is widely used in culinary applications. Cattle, including cows, bulls, heifers, and steers, provide the source for beef, and its acceptability as a food source varies across different regions. Some cattle are raised on pastures, while others are confined in feedlots, large areas where they receive a diet primarily composed of grain and other concentrates.

The feed given to cattle plays a crucial role in influencing the flavor and quality of beef. Grass-fed diets, for instance, result in beef that is more flavorful and tender compared to grain-fed diets. But, overall, beef has a robust, very meaty taste, which can’t be called salty or sweet either way.

Veal vs. Beef: How Did Both Taste to Me?

As I said earlier in this article, I can easily differentiate between beef and veal taste. Now, I’m going to share what I think about the difference between both meat tastes.

On a platter, side by side, veal required less chewing (it was melting in my mouth). On the other hand, beef is chewy–you have to chew it to keep on extracting tasteful juices from it.

So, when comparing the taste of beef vs veal:

Beef has a stronger, meaty taste with a slightly metallic taste because older adults animal has more iron, zinc, and selenium. By contrast, veal has a milder flavor with some sweetness and butteriness. You can say it’s an easy-to-chew version of beef with a milder and sweeter taste. So, veal tastes like beef to some degree, but beef doesn’t taste like veal.

Why do Veal and Beef Taste Differently?

It’s obvious that veal and beef taste different. But why?

The answer is “difference in nutrition value that is developed through diet and environment.” The former has more phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins, while the latter is iron, selenium, and zinc-dense meat. This nutrition variation is owing to the factor listed below:

Veal and beef taste differently due to several factors, including the age of the animal, the rearing practices, and the diet.


Veal comes from young calves, typically between 1 to 3 months old, whereas beef is obtained from mature cattle, usually around 18 to 24 months or older. The age difference affects muscle development, fat and nutrition content, and overall flavor profile.

Rearing practices

Veal calves are often raised in confined spaces or stalls to limit their movement, which results in less muscle development. Resultantly, the meat is tender and pale with a delicate texture. 

In contrast, beef cattle have more space to roam and develop muscle, resulting in firmer, darker meat with a more robust texture.


Veal calves are fed a diet primarily consisting of milk or milk replacer, or a limited intake of solid food contributes to the tender and delicate texture of veal. In comparison, beef cattle have a varied diet that may include grass, grains, or a combination of both, resulting in a richer, beefier flavor.

The combination of these factors results in distinct taste differences between veal and beef.

Can You Substitute Veal and Beef?

Yes, you can substitute veal and beef for one another in recipes, depending on your preferences and dietary considerations. Keeping their distinctive characteristics in view can help you further. Here are these:


Veal has a more delicate and subtle flavor compared to beef. If you substitute veal with beef in a recipe, the dish may have a stronger and more pronounced beef flavor. So, keeping the mildness of veal in mind is a crucial element.


Veal is typically more tender and has a softer texture compared to beef. If a recipe calls for veal and you substitute it with beef, the dish may have a firmer texture. 

Cooking Time

Since veal lacks exercise muscles, it generally requires less cooking time than beef due to its tenderness. If you substitute beef for veal in a recipe, you may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure that the beef reaches the desired level of doneness without becoming overly tough.

When substituting veal with beef or vice versa, it’s helpful to choose cuts of beef that have similar characteristics to the veal cut specified in the recipe. 

Ultimately, the choice to substitute veal with beef or vice versa depends on your personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and the specific recipe you’re working with. It’s always a good idea to consider the unique qualities of each meat and how they may impact the final result before making a substitution.

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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