From Dr. Mercola:
Whether you believe it’s beneficial to eat beef or not, how it’s raised has a significant impact on human health and the environment. Nicolette Hahn Niman has an interesting skill set that has allowed her to see the issue of how we raise livestock from many different perspectives.
She’s a rancher, an environmental lawyer, author, and mother. Her story began about 15 years ago, when she was living as a vegetarian attorney in Manhattan, and got the chance to work for Robert Kennedy Jr.
“When I went to college, I majored in Biology because I love nature, and I was already involved in environmental causes. It was actually in college, as a freshman, that I became a vegetarian. Largely because I believed that it was the right thing to do as a citizen of the world.
I heard a lot about how meat was resource intensive. I remember specifically hearing that beef was the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon. So I made the choice at that time to become vegetarian,” she says.
“I had this passion for the environment and went to law school. Many years later, I was practicing as a lawyer back in my hometown of Kalamazoo…
I was on the city council and heard Bobby Kennedy Jr. give a speech about how citizens can use the environmental laws to protect the environment… That really motivated me to get involved, as a lawyer, for protecting the environment.”
From Environmental Lawyer to Sustainable Rancher
After working for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), in 2000 she was given the opportunity to work directly for Bobby Kennedy in New York on the issue of livestock-related pollution.
That began Nicolette’s journey into meat production — how it’s produced and what the implications for human health and the environment are.
As noted by Nicolette, the implications are radically different depending on how the livestock are raised; the details of which she reveals in her book, Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production.
(Her first book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, describes how all of the major animal foods are produced, and reveals why industrial methods are bad for the environment, humans, and animals.)
During her travels around the country, touring all types of livestock, dairy, poultry, and egg production facilities, she met Bill Niman, founder of the Niman Ranch Network, which includes 800 farmers and ranchers around the country.
They eventually married, and Nicolette left her Manhattan apartment for his ranch, north of San Francisco in Northern California.
“Initially, I just thought I would continue my work as an environmental lawyer but living here every day and spending time here, I just got so fascinated and enamored with the amazing things that were happening around me and I wanted to be directly involved,” she says.
“So I started working on the ranch every day. I’ve been doing that ever since, and that’s