For years, beef has been Public Enemy Number One for environmentalists and health advocates alike. Headlines warn that livestock production, particularly for cattle, poses the worst environmental risk than anything else in the world, and that eating red meat can substantially increase your chance of dying from heart disease or cancer.

If you’re like most good food advocates, calling for a drastic reduction in beef production is a no-brainer. Right?

Nicolette Hahn Niman, vegetarian rancher, environmental lawyer, and wife of Bill Niman, founder of the eponymous Niman Ranch, lays out a compelling case in her new book Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production. As she sees it, if we want to fight climate change, we may want to actually raise more cattle.

To be clear, Defending Beef is not an endorsement of Big Meat. Niman is well aware of the devastating impacts factory farming poses on the environment, public health, and animal welfare. Her first book, Righteous Porkchop, lays that information out in a very detailed manner. Niman encourages us to do away with what she believes is an unwarranted stigma placed on cows themselves and the ranchers who raise them.

Nicolette and I are friends; we met when Bill Niman served as a commissioner for the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, for which I was working at the time. With that said, I did my best to read Defending Beef with a critical eye. What I found was a well-researched, nuanced book that offers a balanced defense of pasture-based beef production and I encourage everyone to consider her arguments.