"Howard Lyman, a straight-shooting, no-nonsense Montanan with
uncommon integrity and courage, has a dynamite story to tell.
Read in this startling book why this son of the ranchlands won't
be bullied by the beef establishment anymore...and why you shouldn't
Hightower, author of "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road
but Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos"
Lyman's personal odyssey from cowboy and cattlerancher to animal
rights activist, environmentalist and vegetarian is an inspiring
chronicle of the life and times of an extraordinary human being
-- an individual who risked everything, including giving up his
own past, to help create a more humane and civilized future. Who
better to tell the story of the American cattle culture than a
man baptized in the beef mystique and now it's chief critic."
>>Jeremy Rifkin, author of "Beyond Beef:
The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture"
can honestly say that there is not a man on this planet I respect
more than Howard Lyman. I cannot speak highly enough of the man,
his work, or his book. MAD COWBOY is his story, and it is truly
one of the most important ones of this century. Buy ten copies,
give them to people you love. This is the real thing."
Robbins, author of "Diet for a New America," "Food Revolution."
Founder of EarthSave
Lyman is fighting not only for our health but our nation's sanity
as well. He challenges not only mad cows but a mad system that
gives us the dead wrong answer when we ask: 'What's for dinner?'"
Terkel, author of "Working"
to Online Reviews:
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SATYA MAGAZINE: "If you've never heard
of Howard Lyman, I don't blame you. He was the man who appeared
on the Oprah Winfrey Show in April 1996 and told a shocked audience
that it was common practice in the United States to feed ground-up
cows back to cows. He and Oprah were subsequently sued under Texas's
"Veggie Libel" law by a group of Texas cattlemen. Because the judge
slapped a gag rule on all concerned, neither Oprah nor Lyman could
say anything during the trial. But a funny thing happened. While
Oprah was exhaustively pictured and named, no one pictured Lyman,
and few even mentioned his name. He was merely "a vegetarian activist"
or "anti-meat activist." To conspiracy theorists like me, it confirmed
that the mainstream media--terrified of being sued under the very
law they were covering--wanted to distance themselves from anyone
who might be an authoritative voice for food safety.
is something Howard Lyman has in spades. For Lyman--the "vegetarian
activist"--is no soft-handed, squeamish aesthete whose idea of
rural life is a petting zoo. He happens to have been a fourth-generation
farmer and feedlot operator in Montana, who castrated calves at
age 10, and owned a multi-million dollar agribusiness, with ten
thousand acres and seven thousand head of cattle. After a life-saving
operation on a tumor in his lower back and a painful convalescence
during which he was forced to re-examine his life, he realized
both he and his business had to change. He had turned the rich
soil from the organic dairy farm he had inherited from his parents
into something resembling asbestos. He was, by his own account,
"a no-good SOB" with no compassion for his workers, his land,
or the animals he killed. After a few years, he realized that
the kind of farming he had done was not only unsustainable for
life on the planet in general but for his own in particular.
day in the summer of 1990, when he was working as a farm lobbyist,
the revelation came to him. He thought about the decline of the
family farm, how the Department of Agriculture protects agribusiness
rather than consumers; how cattle culture was destroying the rainforest
and was responsible for water resource diminishment, topsoil loss,
and polluted rivers. He looked at his own body: he weighed 350
pounds, his cholesterol level was over 300, and his blood pressure
was "off the charts." There and then, he became a vegetarian.
years later, he is now 220 pounds, with a cholesterol level of
140, and normal blood pressure, and the only diet he's been on
is a vegan one. Having met him, however, I can tell you that he
still has the strong grip and straight talk of a farmer, and Mad
Cowboy accurately reflects the man. It has no time for fancy philosophical
footwork about animal rights: "Having raised for slaughter an
untold number of cattle myself," Lyman writes, "I wouldn't presume
to tell anyone whether it's inherently wrong to kill an animal
for food." What he does say, instead, is that all ethical reasoning
about anything depends on having a planet to live on. The kinds
of practices he analyzes in his chapters on Mad Cow disease, recombinant
Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), and cattle culture in America and
around the world are causing humans misery and the planet untold
destruction. It is depressing reading--the shortsighted greed
of ranchers, governments, speculators and others are feeding a
public misinformed about the true effects of their high-fat, highly
resource-inefficient, meat-and-dairy-based diet.
saves his most withering comments--a highly entertaining mixture
of sarcasm, litanies of facts, and "aw gee shucks!" plain speaking--for
the Zone, Atkins, and Scarsdale diets, which offer placebos hidden
behind fancy polysyllabic science, high animal protein content,
and cozy nostrums, and do not work. Unsurprisingly, he advocates
the Ornish, Barnard, McDougall, and Pritikin diets, which are
low in fat and high in fiber, get the majority of their calories
from carbohydrates rather than protein, and are mainly or completely
final chapter of Mad Cowboy sees Lyman returning to Montana, which,
in all the many thousands of miles he travels each year promoting
vegetarianism, he had not visited since becoming a vegetarian
activist. He had feared he would find only devastation, and he
was right. Family farming in Montana--as it is in the rest of
North America--is dead or dying, killed by the sort of chemically
intensive agribusiness he himself had developed against his father's
advice 30 years ago. Also dead were four of the nine men he used
to play poker with. Three had died of heart disease, one of emphysema.
Of the remaining five, three had heart disease, one had colon
cancer, and another had survived prostate cancer. All the remaining
men--as patriotic and American as apple pie--wouldn't talk about
it in public, but in private wanted to ask Lyman one thing: how
to become a vegetarian.
Oprah Winfrey's 1996 show with Howard Lyman, the meat and dairy
industry threatened to pull $600,000 of advertising if she didn't
allow them another show to present their case, even though there
had been someone from the meat industry and the USDA on stage
with Lyman that day. Neither the government nor the mainstream
media--both of which are in the pockets of the publicly subsidized
meat and dairy industries and which use our tax dollars to deforest,
desertify, pollute, and trample our ecosystems while clogging
our arteries and unnecessarily filling our emergency wards--want
anyone to think that Howard Lyman is anything more than a cowboy
with his own mad vegetarian disease.
predict that mainstream newspapers, television, and radio will
greet this informative, passionate, and thoroughly readable book
with the same deafening silence that they greet anything that
threatens their revenue or unbalances the status quo. I hope I'm
wrong. But just in case I'm not, I would recommend that, right
now, you go and buy Mad Cowboy and give it to a friend who thinks
all vegetarians are soft-hearted bunnyhuggers. They're in for
one big, and delightful, surprise." (from SATYA MAGAZINE)
BY DAVE BOWMAN, THE SEATTLE TIMES:
"The cultivation and consumption of meat by human beings is
heretical statement? Of course, in a nation whose culinary psyche
has been molded in large part by ballpark franks, backyard burgers
and stuffed dead birds in late November.
then, tweaking the orthodoxy of America's flesh fetish is the
intent of Howard F. Lyman's provocative new book, which is a stunning
example of a true insider -- in this case, a fourth-generation
Montana cattle rancher -- turning the tables on a bloated industry
he once embraced.
the circle came together for me ... We had been culturally indoctrinated
to believe (meat eating) to be not a mistake at all, but rather
a normal and healthy habit," Lyman confesses. "But this mistake
was killing us as individuals just as it was destroying our land
and our forests and our rivers. We were eating dead animals, and
it wasn't working ... And I became, right then and there, something
I never dreamed I'd become: a vegetarian."
no-nonsense style, he chips away at the meat monolith: the loss
of topsoil from cattle grazing, the spread of "mad cow" disease,
the clearing of rainforests for ranch land, the use of pesticides,
hormones and ground-up animals in the raising of livestock. Aside
from the ethical and ecological ramifications is Lyman's own remarkable
physical transformation: On a plant-based diet, he shed 130 pounds
and lowered his cholesterol by more than 150 points.
the facts in "Mad Cowboy," and you may never look at prime rib
the same way again."
MAGAZINE, Jan/Feb 1999, pg.108: "As he lay sleepless in
a hospital bed the night before an operation to remove a spinal
tumor, unsure if he'd ever walk again, Montana cattle rancher Howard
Lyman thought about his family and the soil, "the magnetic feel
of the cool, dark, loamy, worm-laden soil in my hands." That was
the land he had loved as a boy on his family's organic farm and
cattle ranch, but the tons of pesticides, herbicides and chemical
fertilizers he had dumped on it for two decades had rendered it
lifeless. Lyman resolved then and there to dedicare himself to restoring
COWBOY portrays how this epiphany transformed him from a meat-loving
rancher and feedlot operator who "never met a chemical I didn't
like" to a crusading vegetarian and food-safety activist. It was
his warning about the risk of "mad cow" disease on Oprah Winfrey
that provoked some Texas cattlemen to file a notorious $10 million
lawsuit against him and Winfrey. (A Texas jury found the two innocent
of disparaging beef.) Lyman continues, with characteristic candor,
to spread the message: "Meat kills," he writes. "It is far and
away the number one cause of death and disease in America." Drawing
on scores of scientific studies, he blames animal-based diets
for upping the risks of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
He also blasts policy makers who favor chemically intensive factory
farms over organic ones. And, Lyman reminds us, cattle severely
damaged the more than 300 million acres of public lands that they
monopolize in the West.
the onslaught of ranching is felt, forrest is lost, native flaura
and fauna face extinction, streams and rivers are polluted, soil
erosion worsens, topsoil blows off in the wind or runs off overgrazing
hills, dust storms arise, and Nature plots her revenge in the
form of desert."
While this blanket indictment of ranching is simplistic--grazing
can be managed without devastating the land--his basic arguments
are well-supported. MAD COWBOY reminds us that each meal we eat
offers us a chance to help conserve dwindling resources in an
overpopulated world." --Dan Ferber