Veal vs. Beef: Key Differences and Health Benefits

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast  (white meat, no skin)
Iron0.7 mg (4% DV)0.45mg (2% DV)
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)
Magnesium32 mg (8% DV)28 mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus230 mg (18% DV)229 mg (18% DV)
Potassium249 mg (10% DV)359 mg (14% DV)
Copper0.063 mg (7% DV)0.047 mg (5% DV)
Selenium30.2 mcg (55% DV)30.6 mcg (55% DV)
Turkey breast  (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)Turkey (dark, meat, no skin)Chicken (dark meat, no skin)
Calories147 calories161 calories173 calories178 calories
Protein30 g30 g27.7 g23.2 g
Total Fat2.1 g3.5 g6 g8.7 g
Saturated Fat0.6 g0.75 g1.8 g2.4 g
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)104 mg (4% DV)95 mg (4% DV)
Niacin11.8 mg (74% DV)10.3 mg (63% DV)7 mg (44% DV)6 mg (38% DV)
Vitamin B60.8 mg (62% DV)0.87 mg (67% DV)0.44mg (34% DV)0.3 mg (23 % DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)3.5 mg (32 % DV)2.1mg (19% DV)
Cholesterol80 mg (27%)98 mg (33% DV)128 mg (42% DV)75 mg (25% DV)

Varying your meat intake can make maintaining a healthy diet more enjoyable. Experimenting with new recipes is interesting, but which types of protein best support your overall well-being? Learn how to compare veal vs. beef to understand what makes them different and their various health benefits.

People often include various red meat selections in their diet, including veal and beef. Veal is meat taken off a baby cow. The veal calves grow until they reach around 450 pounds1 or become 16 to 18 weeks of age.

Beef is meat removed from adult beef cattle instead of dairy cows. These breeds spend the first two years of their lives eating until they weigh around 1,000 pounds each.2 Due to their size, beef produces much more meat than veal calves, so you may see it more often in restaurants and grocery stores.

Although there are numerous nutritional differences between veal and beef, it’s also worth noting that veal is typically easier for people to digest. The veal calves don’t have as much time to strengthen their muscles, so the tender meat breaks down in the digestive system more quickly.

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Veal vs. Beef: Key Differences

These are the main differences between beef and veal. It’s important to remember them when deciding which protein source best supports your health goals.

Categorization and Age

Veal is beef from calves instead of grown cattle. It puts this meat in a different categorization. When young cattle grow past 18 weeks of age, they may remain on their farm to become adult cattle processed into beef. Separating the distinct meats is essential due to the differences in each and consumers’ potential ethical reservations regarding eating one or both.

People may also wish to know if they are buying grain-fed beef to better understand what’s in each bite. Separating the meat by what the cattle or young calves ate is a standard way grocery stores organize each product.

Taste and Texture

Cuts of beef from adult cattle are slightly tougher because they use their muscles longer. Veal vs. beef comparisons often point out how veal is more tender. It may be easier for individuals struggling with traditional beef cuts to chew and digest.

The taste of both meats is almost the same. They’re from the same breeds, but the different cuts may have a more distinct flavor due to beef cattle eating feed or grasses much longer than veal cattle. Their food can also give beef a stronger flavor than veal. It depends if they eat mostly food with additives to help them grow.


You’ll notice veal and beef looking similar when you visit your local butcher or grocery store. Both have pinkish-red hues and white lines of fat, marbling their appearance. They may also match in thickness due to coming from the same or similar muscle groups.

However, veal is meat from a calf, so the cuts will be smaller than traditional brisket, roast beef or tenderloin. It may come in smaller packages or precut into bite-sized pieces.

Culinary Uses

Beef and veal cutlets provide nutrients and minerals and have numerous American and international culinary uses. People may enjoy grilling, marinating, or slow cooking to a tender texture and perfection. Veal also tastes like beef, although with a less pronounced flavor. It’s easy to pair with traditional seasonings and gravies in global cuisines.

Ethical and Environmental Considerations

People may eat or avoid beef based on ethical and environmental considerations. Since veal comes from a calf, some people may feel uncomfortable eating a young animal that never reached adulthood.

Others may opt for beef over baby cow meat. Cattle live much longer than the limited weeks of age allowed for veal calves. Simultaneously, their prolonged lives mean they need more natural resources. Research shows it takes 15,415 liters of water to make 1 kilogram (kg) of beef.3 Someone who doesn’t want a diet reliant on limited natural resources might not eat beef or veal for that reason.

Cattle farms are also a significant source of carbon dioxide (CO2). A single cow emits 16-27.3 kg of CO2 throughout its lifetime.4 People living sustainably may opt for more eco-friendly sources of protein, minerals, and nutrients to balance their blood sugar and reach their health goals.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that veal costs around $7.04 per pound, while beef cuts average between $3.53 and $15.58 per pound.5, 6 The addition to your grocery budget will depend on your preferred cuts and whether they’re on sale.

Veal and beef may also have slightly higher prices from organic farms. The organic label means the cattle ate non-synthetic feed, resulting in fewer additives in the meat consumers purchase. People prefer this kind of meat to avoid synthetic ingredients in their food.7

Beef is a standard part of daily diets, so meat-packing companies compete for the most affordable prices. Whether you dine on organic beef or not, you’ll gain nutritional benefits compared to not eating meat.

Veal vs. Beef: Benefits

Catch up on everything you need to know about veal vs. beef by browsing these benefits. You could start enjoying them this week by adding one or both to your diet:

  • Beef is high in folate and vitamin B12.
  • Both are available in butcher shops, grocery stores, and beef subscription services.
  • Veal is easy to digest.
  • Both are easy to add to beef-based recipes.
  • The protein in veal and beef will satisfy you longer than meals without protein.

Veal vs. Beef: Potential Downsides

There are pros and cons to everything in life. Depending on your lifestyle, these are the potential downsides to eating beef or veal:

  • Consuming high amounts of beef can adversely affect your gut microbiota.8
  • Veal is more costly per pound due to the processing methods and limited producers of baby cow meat.
  • Some people feel uncomfortable about eating meat from any living animal, especially one processed into veal as a baby.
  • Cattle have a significant carbon footprint that works against individuals with sustainable lifestyles.
  • Beef can feature a high-fat content, causing cholesterol buildup that creates heart disease.9


You’re likely looking at the nutritional value of veal vs. beef when adding it to your diet. The various cuts have slight differences depending on the cut’s location, but both are healthy options. Note their cholesterol and saturated fats on the nutrition labels if you stick to a low-fat diet.

When comparing the standard 80% lean meat ground beef and ground veal, veal has more protein in each serving. The USDA found that 100 grams of veal contains 24.4 grams of protein10 compared to the 17.5 grams of protein11 in 100 grams of ground beef. Consider these other essential nutrients when picking a type of meat for your next meal:

Nutrient Veal (100 g) Beef (100 g)
Calories 172 kcal 243 kcal
Protein 24.4 g 17.5 g
Total Fat 7.56 g 19.4 g
Sodium 83 mg 55 mg
Fiber 0 mg 0 mg
Carbs 0 g 0 g
Calcium 17 mg 7 mg
Iron 0.99 mg 1.96 mg
Magnesium 24 mg 16.4 mg
Potassium 337 mg 273 mg
Zinc 3.87 mg 3.85 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg 0 mg
Vitamin B12 1.2 g 9.4 g
Cholesterol 103 mg 68 mg

Glycemic Index

A food’s glycemic index (GI) indicates its potential impact on your blood sugar levels. Veal has a GI rating of 012, as well as beef.13 Although veal differs from beef in numerous ways, their glycemic index is identical.

“There’s no significant impact on insulin sensitivity for diets containing red meat compared to diets with less or no red meat intake,” said Dr. Lisa Sanders, Ph.D., RD and owner of Cornerstone Nutrition LLC.14 “Further investigations are needed to better understand whether a causal relationship exists between red meat intake and risk of Type 2 diabetes.”


Each type of high-quality beef meat includes essential vitamins for basic bodily functions, like magnesium, amino acids, and calcium. These are the other vitamins your body will benefit from if you start eating one or both options regularly, according to the USDA’s nutritional findings for cuts of veal and beef: 

Vitamins Veal (100g) Beef (100g)
Calcium 17 mg 7 mg
Iron 0.99 mg 1.96 mg
Magnesium 24 mg 16.4 mg
Potassium 337 mg 273 mg
Zinc 3.87 mg 3.85 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg 0 mg
Vitamin B12 1.2 g 9.4 g
Phosphorus 217 mg 144 mg
Riboflavin 0.27 mg 0 mg
Copper 0.103 mg 0.055 mg
Selenium 13.7 mg 0 mg
Manganese 0.035 mg 0.0125 mg
Sodium 83 mg 55 mg
Folate 11 g 0 g


As seen in the vitamin comparison chart above, you’ll get varying amounts of minerals in beef and veal. You might want to eat more veal if you need to increase your selenium intake, as it has 13.7 milligrams (mg)10 compared to beef’s 0 mg.11 However, beef has more iron than veal, which would appeal more to people with iron deficiencies.

Learn More About Nutrition and Healthy Eating With Signos’ Expert Advice

Comparing veal vs. beef requires considering numerous factors. Once you choose at least one purpose for your new diet, you can pick a protein based on which nutritional values best align with your health goals.

Signos’s experts are here to help you figure out how to make your diet work for you. Their guidance allows clients to balance blood sugar readings throughout the day and feel better with each meal. Check out the science supporting Signos strategies, or take a quiz to see if the program is right for you. Empowering dietary choices is easier with expert assistance.

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  1. AskUSDA. (n.d.).
  2. AskUSDA. (n.d.).
  3. Armstrong, M. (2021, May 28). Infographic: How Thirsty is Our Food? Statista Infographics.
  4. Guo, H., Su, Z., Yang, X., Xu, S., & Pan, H. (2022, August 2). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Beef Cattle Breeding Based on the Ecological Cycle Model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(15), 9481.
  5. (2023, December 1) National Retail Report - Lamb/Veal Advertised Prices for Lamb and Veal at Major Retail Supermarket Outlets. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
  6. (2023, December 1) National Retail Report - Beef Advertised Prices for Beef at Major Retail Supermarket Outlets. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
  7. Ranson, Z. (2021, July 1). What Does Organic Mean? Nature’s Best Organic Feeds.
  8. Albracht-Schulte K, Islam T, Johnson P, Moustaid-Moussa N. (2021, January) Systematic Review of Beef Protein Effects on Gut Microbiota: Implications for Health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal.
  9. Zhong, V. W., Van Horn, L., Greenland, P., Carnethon, M. R., Ning, H., Wilkins, J. T., Lloyd-Jones, D. M., & Allen, N. B. (2020, February 3). Associations of Processed Meat, Unprocessed Red Meat, Poultry, or Fish Intake With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 180(4).
  10. FoodData Central. (n.d.). Veal, Ground, Cooked, Broiled.
  11. FoodData Central. (n.d.). Beef, Ground, 80% Lean Meat / 20% Fat, Raw.
  12. Admin. (2021, February 8). Veal: Glycemic Index (GI), Glycemic Load (GL) and Calories per 100G. Glycemic Index Guide.
  13. Admin. (2021, February 8). Beef (Steak, Etc.): Glycemic Index (GI), Glycemic Load (GL) and Calories per 100G. Glycemic Index Guide.
  14. ‌Sanders, L. M., Wilcox, M. L., & Maki, K. C. (2022, May 5). Red Meat Consumption and Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions when people compare veal vs. beef. You may find a few answers to lingering questions that clarify your next dietary changes.

Which Is Better, Beef or Veal?

Veal and beef both have nutritional profiles that benefit a standard daily diet. You may prefer one depending on your taste preferences, ethical values, or environmental standards, you may prefer one. You might choose beef when grilling because the lean meat doesn’t fall apart.

Price will also be a factor for people working with limited grocery budgets. Beef is the more budget-friendly option if you want to increase your strength alongside economical proteins like eggs and nuts. However, veal also has a helpful amount of protein that could provide the same results. It depends on your desired health benefits and budgetary needs.

Does Veal Taste Like Beef?

Veal is beef, so they have nearly identical flavor profiles. Other proteins, like ground turkey, may have a drier texture because they contain less fat, which can also affect their flavor. Beef and veal get their fat from the same animal, making their tastes similar.

Why Is Veal More Expensive Than Beef?

Due to the processing methods, the sticker prices for veal are typically more expensive than beef. The stock of veal calves raised for veal production is significantly smaller compared to global cattle farms. Even though veal is meat from the same beef cattle, you’ll pay a bit extra because it comes from a limited resource.

Why Is Veal Better Than Beef?

Veal is different from beef when you compare their nutrient profiles. It might be a better occasional protein option for people on a prediabetes diet because it has less fat than standard beef. Low-fat diets reduce the chance of developing diabetes, so every gram counts when your eating plan aligns with purposeful health goals.

Some people also think veal is better than beef because it’s more tender. Tender meat is easier to chew and digest, resulting in potentially fewer symptoms like gas. However, they’re both healthy options for anyone seeking new protein sources.

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