Book 6: Sustainable Santa Has a Book Suggestion for Every Conscientious Eater on Your Holiday List

Beef Cover

Defending Beef  by Nicolette Hahn Niman

When Santa stamps back into the house after his annual rounds, he looks forward to sitting down at the dinner table with Mrs. Claus for a beautiful standing rib roast accompanied by her unbeatable Yorkshire pudding.

So Santa’s been feeling a little conflicted lately, trying to justify his love of good beef in the face of all the human health and environmental horrors that have been attributed to cattle production over the last several years.

Leave it to Nicolette Hahn Niman—lawyer, environmentalist, rancher, mother, and (Santa isn’t kidding) practicing vegetarian—to lay out a vigorous, intellectually robust argument in favor of beef. With one huge caveat: Meat has to be raised the right way. From an environmental point of view, Nicolette argues, there is a huge difference between grass-fed, pastured cattle and those that consume a diet based on corn (and a host of chemicals) in massive feedlots.

At the same time, Nicolette presents a convincing case that sugars and simple carbohydrates, not cows, might be the real culprits behind the national epidemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

For the committed carnivores on your list as well as the environmentalists and vegetarians who aren’t adverse to a little food for thought.

Sustainable Santa will be back tomorrow with yet another gift book suggestion.

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, by Nicolette Hahn Niman

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1 comment

  1. Maya says:

    Ten years have passed since my mother went to what had to be “her heavenly reward.” At least that was her personal goal: cooking dinner every Sunday for a family, educating her children in the ways of her midwestern German ancestors. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or go without” she would tell all of us. So, with the exception of Thanksgiving (turkey) and Easter (lamb) our Sunday dinners always featured a large chunk of beef. The leftovers would morph through the week into sliced roast beef sandwiches , beef stroganoff and ultimately to several days of beef stew, the vegetables and potatoes having been grown in our California garden. Therein lay the problem: most of her California-born children and all of her grandchildren were vegan, vegetarian or fructarian. We believed meat to be (how shall I say this delicately) Poison. A bit of tough-love and cajoling was necessary on her part. “Beef is good for you.” “Range-fed beef helps the hills say healthy.” “You’re not going to cure that cold with those drugs, this stew will get you up and running.” We disagreed but went along with her formidable powers of argumentation. So, a decade later, Nicolette Hahn NIman has written a book that provides substance to my mother’s well-worn argument. Cattle are good for the soil, beef is good for the body, range-fed beef help restore ecological balance. This is a book definitely worth reading, and placing upon your bookshelf as future reference. My mother would have claimed Hahn-Niman as her own family. And maybe, sitting on that cloud up there, she already has.

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