I was immediately drawn to the paradox of the title Meat: A Benign Extravagance, a book by Simon Fairlie published originally in the UK and then by Chelsea Green here in the US.
I eat meat myself, and luckily I live in an agricultural area in Colorado where we can get local grass-fed beef, lamb, and even yak, as well as locally raised organic chicken.
And that’s what we eat when we eat meat, for the most part. I am not drawn to eat meat where the animals may have been treated inhumanely, fed corn, or fed dubious feeds.
So this book turned out to be right up my alley. The book, over 300 pages, is a very comprehensive and far-reaching work. Fairlie writes clearly and with a certain flair at times, but I did find that when I used the book for bedtime reading, I would soon nod off. So I read most of it during the day, sitting upright in a chair, enthusiastically reading snippets aloud to my husband whenever he came within earshot.
Fairlie addresses every hard issue that relates to farming meat animals. He is a farmer himself, and here he is exploring how Great Britain can feed its own people. So many of the examples are British that I think the book might have a smaller audience in the US. But really, anyone interested in issues of how the world can feed itself, and a complex and nuanced examination of the land-use arguments for and against veganism, vegetarianism, and meat-eating, will find food for thought in this book.