Beet Read: Defending Beef


Written by Rachel Clark

There is a key and emerging debate in global food systems thinking about meat production. One side of the argument goes something like this: Raising meat for human food is inhumane, is a key cause of climate change, drives pollution and ecosystem destruction, is unhealthy for the human diet, and is totally unsustainable as it is currently practiced by industrial agriculture standards (see for instance, the new documentary “Cowspiracy”, which is available to stream online).

Meanwhile, the other side of the argument sounds more like this: Raising meat for human food can be done in a highly sustainable, humane way that is regenerative and restorative for ecosystems and biodiversity, can help to curb and solve the climate crisis, is healthy for the human diet, and brings people much closer to the land, animals, and nature because it is an intrinsic part of who we are and what makes us human.

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production by Nicolette Hahn Niman (former vegetarian and environmental lawyer), shines the spotlight on the crucial discussion about sustainability. The two sides of this argument sound so wildly different that it is hard to imagine they are discussing the same suite of meat production practices. In truth, they aren’t. Many current industrial agriculture practices are incompatible with sustainable meat production, and are examples of the first argument. In the meantime, quietly, on local small farms around the world, the second way — or rather, the old way, combined with new, emergent permaculture practices that help livestock and the ecosystems that support them to thrive (and thus, really, a third way) — is arising.

Come find out why important voices in the food systems literature are calling Niman’s new book “critical thinking at its finest,” a book “that every chef in America should read” and a “brave, clear-headed and necessary addition to the discussion about sustainable food systems.”

Please join us to discuss Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production by Nicolette Hahn Niman (Chelsea Green Publishing) on

Sunday, December 28

, from

6-7:30 pm

. Email

for the meeting location and directions and/or to receive email reminders about the Good Food Book Club. Defending Beef is available through your local library. If you are interested in buying the book, check out the area’s local used bookstores or visit BookPeople of Moscow where Book Club members receive a discount. For more information about the Good Food Book Club, including a follow-up of last month’s Food and the City, check out the Outreach section of the Co-op website at