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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603585361
Year Added to Catalog: 2014
Book Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Number of Pages: 288
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Web Product ID: 809

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Defending Beef

The Case for Sustainable Meat Production

by Nicolette Hahn Niman

"Creating healthful, delicious food in ecological balance is among humanity's greatest challenges. In this insightful book, Nicolette Hahn Niman shows why cattle on grass are an essential element. Every chef in America should read this book."

Alice Waters, executive chef, founder/owner, Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA

The manifesto of an environmental lawyer and vegetarian turned cattle rancher

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment.

The author—a longtime vegetarian—goes on to dispel popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false. She shows how foods from cattle—milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass—are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.

Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world, Defending Beef builds a comprehensive argument that cattle can help to build carbon-sequestering soils to mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, help prevent desertification, and provide invaluable nutrition.

Defending Beef is simultaneously a book about big ideas and the author’s own personal tale—she starts out as a skeptical vegetarian and eventually becomes an enthusiastic participant in environmentally sustainable ranching.

While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution.


About the Author

Nicolette Hahn Niman

Nicolette Hahn Niman is the author of Defending Beef. She previously served as senior attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance, running their campaign to reform the concentrated production of livestock and poultry. In recent years she has gained a national reputation as an advocate for sustainable food production and improved farm–animal welfare. She is the author of Righteous Porkchop (HarperCollins, 2009) and has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and The Atlantic online. She lives on a ranch in Northern California, with her husband, Bill Niman, and their two sons. ...

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Price: $19.95
Format: Paperback
Status: Available to Ship
Ships: Next day


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International orders can be placed by phone (802-295-6300) or email

Nicolette Hahn Niman's Upcoming Events

  • Nicolette Hahn Niman at St. Aidan's Church
    St. Aidan's Church, Bolinas CA
    November 22, 2014, 2:00 pm
  • Nicolette Hahn Niman at 18 Reasons
    3674 18th Street , San Francisco CA 94110
    January 23, 2015, 6:30 pm

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