Q&A With ‘Defending Beef’ Author Nicolette Hahn Niman

 

Shelby Vittek, Modern Farmer

Jul 20, 2021

 

Seven years after the book’s initial release, a revised and expanded edition responds to modern topics such as plant-based meats and regenerative approaches to beef production.

 

Nicolette Hahn Niman, a vegetarian and environmental lawyer turned cattle rancher, released Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Protection in 2014. The manifesto called for a revolutionized food system that involved cattle, which she believed were necessary to the restoration and future health of the planet and its people.

 

Seven years later, she still believes that to be true. And with discussions about issues in meat production and consumption more present and pressing than ever before, Hahn Niman is back with a revised and expanded version of the book, out from Chelsea Green Publishing Tuesday. In it, she presents updated research and analysis on issues such as the alternative meat movement, how the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the meat industry and livestock’s contribution to global warming.

 

We caught up with Hahn Niman to discuss what has—and hasn’t—changed since the first edition of Defending Beef and how working with her husband Bill Niman on Niman Ranch has reshaped her outlook on meat production and her respect for the land.

 

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

Modern Farmer: Why was it important to release an updated version of Defending Beef now? ...

 

MF: You’ve been a biologist, a vegetarian, a lawyer and an environmental activist before adding “cattle rancher” to the list. How has that shaped your perspective on meat? ...

 

MF: In what ways has living and working on a cattle ranch reshaped your views about agriculture? ...

 

MF: The plant-based meat movement has really accelerated in the years since you released Defending Beef. Can you discuss how you’ve approached the topic in this updated edition? ...

 

MF: What do you hope readers of this second edition take away from reading the book? ...

 

MF: The term “regenerative agriculture” is often used in discussions about the future of farming. What role do animals—including cattle—play in that? ...

 

MF: What kinds of practices do you wish to see more of on cattle farms in the US? ...

 

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https://modernfarmer.com/2021/07/qa-with-defending-beef-author-nicolette-hahn-niman/