BRITISH consumers should be encouraged to eat veal to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of bull calves, Huddersfield's MP said today.
Labour's Barry Sheerman said tens of thousands of male calves were being slaughtered after birth and suggested they could be bred for meat instead.
Animal welfare campaigners have long criticised the way in which young calves are transported across the continent, crammed into lorries and suffering inhumane conditions.
This has put many people off eating veal but Mr Sheerman said that it could be renamed spring beef instead.
Speaking during questions to Animal Welfare Minister Jim Paice, Mr Sheerman said it was "morally repugnant and an environmental disaster that the bulk of male calves born in this country are immediately killed and incinerated".
"Isn't it about time we did something about changing the way people looked at veal as a wonderful product to eat?" he added.
"And couldn't we rename it spring beef so we could get over the prejudices that mean that these poor animals get no life at all?"
Mr Paice replied the consumption of veal was welcome but it was important that it came from British farms to avoid unnecessary cruelty.
He said: "In fact the number of bull calves being slaughtered at birth is much lower than it was because there has been an increase in the consumption of veal, a very welcome increase.
"But of course we do need to make sure that it's UK veal, in other words what we call rose veal, which is where they are bred in humane circumstances rather than some of the arrangements abroad."