|Copyright: The Dairy Education Board|
Sunday, August 1, 1999 (updated 9/2002)
THE MAD COWBOY
Howard Lyman, lead defendant has won! His co-defendant, Oprah Winfrey has won too.
Nearly six years. Numerous appeals. Only in today's America is it still against the law to call an agricultural product "unsafe."
Howard and Oprah were sued by cattlemen after Oprah said "I've eaten my last hamburger." On that day, in front of millions of viewers, Howard Lyman told America the news about Mad Cow Disease and other foodborne illnesses that taint meat. It's no baloney, folks.
After the show aired, cattle futures plummeted. Millions of dollars were lost. Meat producers litigated, blaming Howard & Oprah for their losses.
This summer, the final appeal heard in Federal Court was dismissed "with prejudice." The trial will not be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Who is Howard Lyman? Who is that Mad Cowboy?
THE MAD COWBOY
He walks to the microphone and is greeted with a standing ovation. Howard Lyman is an ex-cattleman rancher-turned vegetarian.
"I was raised in Montana, and I when I was growing up I knew one person who was a vegetarian." He pauses for effect and eyeballs the audience. "And she was a straaaange lady." His timing is perfect. He drawls the word "strange" and the audience erupts with laughter.
"I learned better living through chemistry during my four- year college career," continues Lyman. "Not once during my education did I hear the word 'vegetarian.' Being from Montana, I would have rather been caught riding a stolen horse than be called a vegetarian." The audience roars with delight and applauds. Howard has them eating tofu out of his enormous hands.
HOWARD AND OPRAH
Nearly six years ago, Howard Lyman appeared as a guest on "Oprah." The subject that day was meat. Howard discussed E. coli and salmonella and mad cow disease. Oprah remarked, "I've eaten my last hamburger."
THE OPRAH SUIT
As American housewives (who comprise the greatest part of Oprah's audience) heard that message, so too did traders in the cattle futures market. Word quickly spread. America will no longer eat beef! Speculators began to sell contracts and cattle futures plummeted. Fortunes were lost in a few minutes of trading. By the end of the day, many millions of dollars were lost by panicking options traders either buying or selling their calls and puts.
A few of the losers got more than angry. They got even. A suit was filed against Howard Lyman and Oprah. In America, freedom of speech is merely an illusion. There are now laws making it illegal to criticize an agricultural product.
AGRICULTURAL DISPARAGEMENT ACTS
It is still illegal in thirteen states to criticize an agricultural product. Howard and Oprah learned this the hard way. Texas is one of those thirteen. They sued the wrong people. Oprah has very deep pockets. This was one case that she could not afford to lose. This was much more than just hamburgers. This was about an industry attempt to muzzle the press. Would the media even be tempted to ever tell the truth if Oprah Winfrey lost to the cattlemen?
The case went to trial, the jury came in with a verdict: not guilty! Howard and Oprah won and the cattlemen lost. The case was appealed. Howard and Oprah won again. And again. And again.
I've read "Mad Cowboy," and books do not get much better than this one. Howard's account of how rich the soil used to be on his farm, with earthworms in rich loam, is written with great emotion. One college education and hundreds of chemicals later, Howard managed to turn that soil into an asbestos-like artificial fiber.
"Mad Cowboy" picks up where Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" left off. The book is brilliantly written and filled with details of the toxins in our foods. Read this book and you'll soon be buying organic fruits and vegetables. The alternatives are simply not worth it. Howard is often asked about the difference in price between organically grown vegetables and those treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. His response? "Can you afford the cost of cancer?"
Howard Lyman's cancer was a one-in-a million. He blames it on the dangerous chemicals and even more dangerous lifestyle. Howard says, "When I was younger, I never found an animal product that I didn't want to stuff down my throat." The tumor removed from his spinal column should have put Howard in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Instead, he is now the symbolic leader of the vegan movement in America.
"If 5 people go to dinner and one is a vegetarian, who do you think is the one to pick the restaurant?"
"It takes 70 calories of energy to produce one calorie of meat. Sixteen pounds of grain are used to produce one pound of meat. Sixteen pounds of grain can feed 32 people . . . or one Rush Limbaugh."
"One-third of Americans will get cancer and one-quarter will die from it. There are 600 chemical compounds in our bodies that did not even exist 50 years ago."
I LOVE HOWARD!
Howard and I often lecture together. I have learned quite a bit from this man. Long before I was travelling across America, warning people about the dangers of milk and dairy products, Howard was speaking to small and large groups doing just that. A month after I learned about Monsanto's genetically engineered hormone, I received a tape of Howard speaking in a Chicago area library. There were about six people in the audience.
Howard would corner an audience of one in a phone booth to get out his very important message.
Recently I received a great compliment from my good friend, Howard. I had given a talk to a standing-room only audience at the University of Pittsburgh. Howard attended, sitting in the back of the room. An hour later, we sat down for a vegetarian lunch in the college cafeteria. I mentioned to Howard that I saw him sitting in the back of the room.
He asked, very seriously, "Know what I was doing there?"
I shook my head and he continued, "Stealing material!"
Howard, you've led the way and my hat is off to you! Just
for the record, there is one person who I give credit to for
inspiring me to eat a plant-based diet. That man is Howard
and he has taught me and thousands of others the right and
wrong ways to treat a human body. Combine my NOTMILK
campaign and Howard's NOTMEAT campaign and you'll possess a
valuable roadmap to discovering the fountain of youth.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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