Lamb and mutton vs Veal - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Conversations about which type of meat is superior in flavour, texture, nutrition and impact have been carried out over dinners for centuries. This article will focus on two types of meat - veal and lamb - addressing their attributes from a scientific point of view.
The obvious difference between these two types of meat is the animal they come from. Veal is the meat of calves, which are young and domesticated cows or bulls. Lamb, also known as mutton or hogget, is the meat of sheep.
Veal can come from the cattle of either sex, however, most veal comes from young males. Veal and beef have a lot in common, as they come from the same animal but in different stages of life.
The meat that comes from young sheep, usually under 12 months of age, is called lamb. Mutton and hogget are usually names for the meat of fully grown sheep, slaughtered at the age of two to three. The terms mutton or goat mutton can also at times be used to describe goat meat.
Both veal and lamb are classified as red meat, due to their high content of myoglobin and iron.
Veal and lamb are very hard to tell apart based on appearance alone. Both are dark red in colour when raw, with varying amounts of marbling, depending on the cut. Marbling is the name for the white stripes of intramuscular fat seen on slices of raw meat.
At the same time, lamb can often be darker in colour, as it is naturally higher in myoglobin and iron.
Taste and Use
The flavour of lamb is often described to be stronger and gamier, while its texture is more tender when compared to veal.
The taste of veal and lamb can be compared to the taste of beef and mutton respectively. However, veal and lamb have much more delicate flavours.
The variety of meat can be decided based on breed, the type of the cut and what conditions the cattle have been raised in. Different varieties have relatively different nutritional compositions, textures and flavours.
Based on the cut of veal, it can be called the chuck or shoulder, the brisket and shank or breast, the rib, the sirloin or hip, the short loin, the short plate, the flake and the round.
Cuts of lamb are called the square cut shoulder, the rack or rib, the loin, the leg, the neck, the breast, the shanks and the flank.
Based on the conditions in which the cows have been raised, veal can be formula-fed, also known as milk-fed or white, non-formula fed, also known as red, pasture-raised or free-raised and bob veal. Bob veal is the meat of the calf that has been slaughtered at less than one month old.
The nutritional values are presented for broiled ground veal and cooked lamb, a composite of trimmed retail cuts with 25% fat and 85% lean meat.
Macronutrients and Calories
Lamb is notably more dense in nutrients, being composed of 54% water, while veal consists of 67% water.
Veal and lamb have the same average serving size of 3oz or 85g.
Being denser in nutrients, lamb is significantly higher in calories. A 100g of lamb provides 294 calories, while the same serving size of veal contains 172 calories.
Both of these meats are high calorie foods.
Protein and Fats
Veal and lamb have very similar protein compositions. Lamb contains just less than half a gram more protein than veal per 100g serving.
A 100g serving of veal or lamb provides nearly 24.5g of high-quality protein. Both lamb and veal provide high levels of all essential amino acids.
Lamb is significantly higher in fats. One hundred gram serving size of lamb contains 13g more fats than the same serving size of veal.
However, the fat compositions of these two types of meat are very similar. Both veal and lamb contain higher amounts of unhealthy saturated fats, followed by monounsaturated fats, leaving polyunsaturated fats in the last place.
Despite lamb being higher in fats, veal contains a slightly larger amount of cholesterol.
It’s important to keep in mind that the fat content in meats can vary based on which part of the animal the given meat has been cut from.
Like most non-processed meats, veal and lamb contain no notable amounts of carbohydrates.
The chart below shows how much of your daily needs is covered by 300 grams of each product
Meat is a great source of B complex vitamins. Lamb and veal are no exceptions.
Lamb contains over 9 times more vitamin B12, almost 4 times more vitamin K and nearly 1.5 times more vitamin B1 and folate. Lamb also provides vitamin D, which is completely absent in veal.
Veal, on the other hand, provides 3 times more vitamin B6, almost 2 times more vitamin B5 and 1.2 times more vitamin B3.
Lamb and veal contain similar levels of vitamin E and vitamin B2.
Overall, lamb seems to be richer in most vitamins.
Veal and lamb both completely lack vitamin A and vitamin C.
Now have a look at the mineral coverage chart
Lamb and veal are both rich in minerals.
Lamb provides higher levels of iron, copper, zinc and selenium while being lower in sodium.
At the same time, veal is richer in phosphorus and slightly higher in potassium, magnesium and manganese.
Lamb and veal contain nearly the same amount of calcium and choline.
As veal and lamb contain almost no carbohydrates, their glycemic index values are considered to be 0.
To read more about the glycemic index values of foods with no carbohydrates you can visit this page.
The pH value of veal can change depending on the maturity level of the meat. It ranges between 5.5 to 6.1. This means veal has an acidic pH value (1).
Similarly, lamb meat has pH values ranging from 5.7 to 6.0 (2).
The acidity of foods can also be measured based on their potential renal acid load or their PRAL value. This value shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the body.
The PRAL values for veal and lamb are 12.1 and 11.6, respectively. This shows that veal is only slightly more acid-producing.
Weight Loss & Diets
Meat is commonly avoided on weight loss diets, but do certain types of meat lead to more weight gain than others?
While both veal and lamb are high calorie foods, lamb contains over two more calories than veal. A 100g serving of lamb has 294 calories. The same serving size of veal, however, contains 172 calories.
Veal is the better option for low calorie and low fats diets. Veal and lamb both fit well in low carb and low glycemic index diets.
Various studies have shown meat consumption to lead to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity (3, 4).
However, processed and fatty meat is more likely to cause weight gain when compared to lean and unprocessed meat (5). This means that a moderate amount of unprocessed and lean veal or lamb can be a part of a healthy weight loss diet.
Red meat, including veal and lamb, fits well into keto and Atkins diets. Unprocessed and lean veal and lamb can be part of a Paleo diet. Veal and lamb also play important roles in Mediterranean cuisine, therefore, can be used on a Mediterranean diet but only in moderation.
Red meat is often a controversial topic when it comes to its health impact. In this section, we will look at scientific evidence to understand better how veal and lamb affect our health.
Most studies show that one of the main factors found in red meats that has a negative effect on cardiovascular health is saturated fat. Veal, being lower in fats overall, is also lower in saturated fats.
A recent study has discovered that a healthy Mediterranean diet with low saturated fat intake, combined with small portions of lean red meat can improve cardiovascular health by reducing risk factors, such as lowering low density lipoprotein levels (6).
Another study has concluded that a healthy diet high in protein and low in saturated fats, with or without lean and unprocessed red meat, can improve cardiometabolic disease risk factors (5).
Like most unprocessed meats, veal and lamb are very low glycemic index foods.
Veal, once again being more lean, may be the healthier option between these two types of meat for diabetic individuals.
According to Harvard School of Public Health, to lower the risk of diabetes when cooking meats, it may be better to avoid high-temperature cooking methods including grilling or barbecuing, and instead choose moderate-temperature cooking methods such as stir-frying, sautéing, boiling, or steaming (7).
Downsides and Risks
Contrary to the previous findings, other research has shown that intake of both processed meat and unprocessed red meat is significantly associated with incident cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality (8)
Studies have found that substituting high quality plant foods such as legumes, nuts, or soy for red meat might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Substituting whole grains and dairy products for total red meat, and eggs for processed red meat might also reduce this risk (9).
These negative impacts may be associated with a chemical found in the blood after the intake of meat, called trimethylamine N-oxide or TMAO (10).
Red meat, especially processed red meat, has been associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (11, 12).
Contents of heme iron and dietary cholesterol may partly account for this negative impact (13). Lamb is significantly richer in heme iron, while veal is slightly higher in cholesterol.
There is strong evidence that intake of red meat, including lamb and veal, is correlated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (14).
Red meat consumption can also increase the risk of nasopharyngeal, lung and pancreatic cancers (15).
To sum up, lamb is higher in nutrients, including calories, protein, fats and most vitamins. Lamb is over 9 times richer in vitamin B12, almost 4 times richer in vitamin K, as well as containing 2 times more iron.
Veal is slightly higher in cholesterol. Veal contains 3 times more vitamin B6, almost 2 times more vitamin B5 and more phosphorus. Being lower in fats overall, veal is also lower in saturated fats.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Sugar||Equal|
|Lower in glycemic index||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet||Equal|
|Low glycemic index diet||Equal|
People also compare
All nutrients comparison - raw data values