Do you know how a veal chop gets from the farm to your dinner plate? In 2002, Bradley Miller of the Humane Farming Association, shot footage of veal calves in their crates. The footage shows the calves chained inside their 22-inch wooden crates. "They can't walk or even turn around," he says. "This is how they live every minute, every hour, every day for their entire 16 weeks of life."
Bradley says the calves are fed an all-liquid diet. "Many of the calves were so weak, they couldn't even stand up. They were just lying and coughing from pneumonia," he says. "When it comes time to slaughter, some of these calves literally need to be dragged out of their crates because they had never walked before."
Bryan Scott, a representative with the American Veal Processors Association, says while the calf crates Oprah showed are representative of 80 to 85 percent of what goes on in the veal production, Bradley's footage is not representative of the industry. "There's always some bad actors," he says. "I don't think [the footage] is a fair portrayal at all. We have a quality assurance program in place for our members. The barns are inspected every year, reviewed and audited by a veterinarian."
The veal industry is changing the way it operates, however, whether Proposition 2 passes or fails. By 2017, Bryan says all farmers will be raising their calves in group housing. "[That means] six or more animals per pen, free to roam in their own area," he says. "No tethers. No restraints, except for vaccinations and early socialization."
Bryan says he opposes the California initiative because these regulations shouldn't be dictated by lawmakers. "It's just a matter of allowing flexibility and letting quality scientists and quality universities make the decisions—not making this about a political campaign," he says. "There's room to meet on this and we're certainly moving that way, but it's a more complicated and intricate system."