The healthy eating industry has made a star of white meat, particularly chicken, because it contains less fat than red meat. And, in the process, red meat has become to be seen as bad for your health. But in fact it is not so. If you want a healthy diet, high in protein foods, there is no reason why you cannot eat red meat, as long as you eat it in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

Beef is not bad

Red meat is an excellent source of B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. These are vital for metabolism and energy levels. Red meat such as beef has much more iron, riboflavin, zinc and thiamine than white meat. It is also provides a large amount of protein to build muscles and contains antioxidants. White meat, it is true, is not as fatty as red meat and is not connected to known health problems, as overindulgence in red meat is. But it also cannot provide many of the health benefits you can get from red meat.

Veal is the real deal

The healthiest of any red meat, and a food providing high protein, is veal. It has been around for hundreds of years and is a staple in many European cultures – think of the traditional Wiener Schnitzel of Austria. Beef’s image problem is that it does contain a lot of fat. It is not all bad. There is a good level of calories from fat and the fat does give the beef flavour. Veal on the other hand is as nutritious and good for you as beef, but it does not have the same level of fat. It may seem strange that both meats come from the same animal, but the fattiest cut of veal will have 90 calories less than the fattiest cut of beef, so a British veal burger is far healthier than its beef cousin.

The best cut is the leanest

It is important though to get the leanest cuts of veal. The leanest are rib chop, loin chop, sirloin and top round. A trimmed sirloin cut of three ounces will have 150 calories or less. Veal cutlets are fattier, as is the breast meat. Veal can take you a long way towards the daily recommended intake of protein, and you can grill, stew or stir-fry it, or mince it to make burgers. If you are looking for British veal burgers then is a good place to start.

What to look out for

The reputation of veal did suffer during the 1980s and 1990s because of the way the calves were treated, confined to veal crates which severely restricted movement. Such crates have now been banned right across Europe. If you are concerned about the way veal calves are reared, the thing to look out for is ‘free raised’ veal. These calves are reared in pasture. They have their mother’s milk and eat grass. They get the correct food to keep them healthy.