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Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production
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Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  158 ratings  ·  24 reviews
For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists that livestock goats, sheep, and others, but especially cattle are Public Enemy Number One. They erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations. The UN s Food and Agriculture Organization bolstered the credibility of this notion with its 2007 report that dec ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 31st 2014 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published October 24th 2014)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  158 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
As a previous biologist-turned-lawyer, Hahn Niman defends how integral bovines are to our agricultural system and more largely the sustainability of our political economies. I found her writing to be delightful and while she's not as readable as Pollan, Hanh Niman's created a persuasive argument based on policies and science, something that is an art in itself.

Her argument is simple: eat beef, but it from local ranchers who care about the quality and care of their cattle.

Turning inarable land
Christian Dechery
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
An excellent, down to earth, science based and fact checked analysis on the impact of cattle on the planet. I'm a vegetarian, and a lot of the arguments countered in this book were among the ones I've used to justify my diet. Since I know there's a lot of bullshit in vegan/vegetarian circles in attempting to "convert" people, this book looked like a good source of a way to get a source for countering them, since the author was herself a vegetarian. Sure, there are some parts of the book that see ...more
Paige Gordon
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book offers an extremely compelling argument of the case for raising grass-fed beef on small, family owned ranches, as one of the most important and effective means for ensuring the health of the planet, the animals themselves, and the humans who raise and eat them. As a former lawyer, Nicolette’s arguments are well thought out, thoroughly researched, and presented in a logical way that clearly states her case and does a more than adequate job demolishing some of the old rhetoric about why ...more
Ester Serrano
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author takes the world-extended view of Cattle being the main aspect involved in environmental and health issues and guides you through each an everyone of the topics related to it. It does a great job dismantling old assumptions around sustainability, agriculture and meat suggesting and intensely explains the huge difference between meat industrialization and farming and each one's role in the world ecosystem.

Though most parts are well sustained in data, others might be understood as the au
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly researched book on the health and sustainability of beef - a exoneration of the vilification of beef for the harms of factory-farming and a thorough debunking of the myth that reducing beef consumption would in any way help the problem of food shortages. Some spoilers: very little grain is fed even to grain-fed cows and it is not suitable for human consumption and cattle are able to make use of land utterly unsuitable for crops.

Interestingly, the author remains a vegetarian because
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A well written defense in favor of sustainable meat production. The short of it is know your producer and their methods for raising their beef. It is possible to purchase beef that has been sustainably raised that does not contribute to desertification of the west, but it requires researching your sources.
Zachary Rudolph
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
“He concluded that holistic grazing could sequester between 25 to 60 tons of carbon per hectare per year in semi-arid grasslands ... The total potential for capturing soil organic carbon in grasslands is around 88 to 210 gigatons, which translates to approximately 41 to 99 ppm atmospheric CO2.”

Greg Mueller
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must read if skeptical about some of the environmental impact claims you've heard about beef.
Markku Kesti
Hyvä ja asiallinen esitys paitsi lihantuotannosta, niin myös lihansyönnin ja -tuotannon eettisyydestä. Ottaa kantaa myös lihatuotannon ongelmiinja tarjoaa ratkaisuja tuottaa lihaa paremmin ja eettisemmin. Puolustaa enemmän lähituotantoa kuin luomua (kylläkin luonnonmukaisia menetelmiä tuotannossa) tai kasvissyöntiä. Mutta ei myöskään tyrmää kasvissyöntiä. Teos on hyvä puheenvuoro, mutta suomentajalle/kustantajalle hieman sapiskaa huolimattomuudesta ja siksi jää kolmeen tähteen.

Voin suositella ka
Eero Sipilä
Voiko lihansyönti olla eettisesti ja ekologisesti kestävää? Nicolette Hahn Niman on valinnut kirjalleen todella kontroversiaalin aiheen, joka varmasti nostaa monen ympäristöaktiivin varpailleen. Mistään lihansyöntipropagandasta teoksessa ei onneksi ole kyse, vaan 'Pihvin puolustus' lähestyy aihettaan hyvin analyyttisesti ja kiihkottomasti.

Pääosa kirjan kritiikistä osuu huolimattomamasti tehtyihin tutkimuksiin ja laskelmiin lihantuotannon ympäristövaikutuksista, joiden epäkohdat ja -tarkkuudet k
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was fantastic. At last someone has put into text with the academic & scientific proof to back up what small scale rancher have known for a very, very long time.

The only part I didn't agree with was her stance on predators. I can see why she has the view she does given where she lives though.

The thing is... the same argument and correlating evidence of livestock assisting in maintaining an ecosystem that was changed hundreds (some would argue thousands if you want to get into discus
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book changed a lot for me. I have long been interested in bison, and read much of the book with them in mind. The author does a great job siting her sources and supporting her arguments with research and non-anecdotal evidence. Basically, the premise of the book is that we can create a healthy world through working with cattle, instead of vilifying them. Many of the grasslands across the globe have plants that have evolved alongside large heard animals. These mammals not only provide i ...more
Raychell Libby
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Listened on audible: This book was a bit slow going for me, but I think it's because I've learned much of this information before. It was great to have a farmer give insight on learning about the harmful effects of sugar today. She did her homework and I'm very grateful.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
An impassioned, nuanced argument for sustainable beef production for the health of the planet, for the health of humans consuming it, and as well as for the benefit of other organisms. A much needed commentary amidst ignorant attacks on meat consumption: "Our food system must regenerate itself as nature does and treat animals as our partners, not as inanimate production units. We must restore the broken covenant we have with farm animals. Ridding the world of factory farms should be a priority. ...more
Marc Udoff
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written by a long time vegetarian and environmentalist this book explains all the myths around beef. Having seen many factory farms in her life working for JFK to prosecute them for environmental violations and really researching the science, she is convinced that is it possible to raise cows in an environmentally benign way that is humane. This is if they are cows that simply graze grass. After ~200 pages she admits she still doesn't eat cows, but she will still defend this type of agriculture ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Niman makes a convincing case for beef, pointing out ecological benefits of grazing and how negative environmental impacts may have been overblown, particularly in regards to smaller producers. However, her book falters as she falls victim to the same things she criticizes other researchers for: overreaching conclusions, ignoring inconvenient variables, etc. The book ends on a tight note, recognizing that regardless of differences of opinion between both extremes there are basic changes that bot ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
I had too high expectations of this book, being a person who already agreed with the premise and was aware of a lot of the concepts the Nicolette Hahn Niman used in her argument.

Mostly, I was disappointed that it wasn't a very interesting read -- all facts and no fun. Hahn Niman is a lawyer and Defending Beef reads like a lawyer's work. I'm not saying that detracts from the book's ability to make a point, but I suggest that it detracts from its ability to make a point to most audiences.

Read it
Shannon Hayes
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I would like to see under the tree for every grassfed livestock farmer across the country. Nicolette Hahn Niman, a former vegetarian-environmental attorney-turned rancher, has directed her acumen with research and data analysis to an important cause. Better still, she is a clear thinker and a good writer, and she applies these gifts to make a readable, intelligent and engaging book. Defending Beef is a must-read for grassfed beef farmers as we perpetually seek ways to communicate ...more
Claudia Yahany
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quisiera tener una mente desarrollada para entender y registrar TANTOS argumentos científicos. El problema no es tanto el producto final, si no cómo está hecho. No entiendo cómo todavía en el 2017, los temas de sustentabilidad siguen estando tan alejados del lenguaje común. Tenemos que ser mucho más exigentes con lo que consumimos.

Y como siempre, si quieres cambiar una industria, la única forma es cambiarla desde adentro.
Will Fett
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some fantastic well researched, science based, well logicked arguments throughout. Very comprehensive. However, the occasional opinion statements that she throws in undermine her credibility. While she makes a convincing case on why we should all eat beef, again she undermines her credibility when she herself is a vegetarian.
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really did a great job explaining the entire industry from economics to environmental issues. For me, there was entirely too much acceptance of evolution and millions of years. It adds nothing to the story and actually causes me pause into how the writer interprets 'facts.' As a rancher, however, i still think it is a great read.
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a well written book, full of lots of information. You can tell she did a lot of research. I learned a lot learning this book and will probably re read it again at some point. Highly recommend this book for anyone who eats food.
Mike Wright
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Good reasearch, detailed technical arguments for knowing where your beef comes from
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Jan 23, 2015
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Oct 06, 2015
Liz Bransfield
rated it it was ok
Feb 18, 2016
rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2014
Sarah Newton
rated it it was amazing
Sep 09, 2018
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Dec 11, 2017
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“Much of the drive for Roman conquests, Montgomery argues, was fueled by poor agricultural practices that were whittling away the productivity of the empire’s cultivated areas. Montgomery hypothesizes that exhaustion and erosion of the soil was a major factor in the fall of most once great civilizations, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Mayans.” 0 likes
“[T]he human cost of soil exhaustion,” he writes, “is readily apparent in the history of regions that long ago committed ecological suicide.”8” 0 likes
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