My approach to cows had been less enthusiastic. Domesticated vertebrates - overwhelmingly livestock - now weigh twenty (!) times as much as all wild terrestrial vertebrates on the planet. In simpler language, cows - and the land to produce food for cows - are squeezing wildlife toward extinction.
So you began this book with a negative orientation?
Actually, long before we decided to write a book, Gail had convinced me that America would be a very different sort of place if it weren't for cows. Cows are key to understanding who we are as a people. While I'm still not as enraptured by cows as she is, I'm definitely pro-cow – meaning "pro" a sustainable number of cows raised intelligently, organically, and humanely on grass, not corn.
For a very long time, cows and humans had a symbiotic relationship that provided mutual benefits. Cows turned perennial grasses and forbs into milk, meat, and muscle power. They fertilized the fields. In return, people took care of them, protected them from predators, and gave them water and shelter in harsh weather. Cows were vastly more important to the development of America - its economics, politics, and culture - than any other animal except humans.