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A Mad Cowboy And His Movie
By Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle

For stills and information about Howard Lyman's film, book, and the Oprah trial, visit:

P.O. Box 1240
Ellensburg, WA 98926

Howard F. Lyman, LL.D lives with his wife Willow Jeane, and cat, Caesar.

Mad Cowboy: The Documentary is a portal into the chemically based and ecologically disastrous agriculture we call "food." It portrays activists, scientists, victims, ranchers, farmers, doctors and consumers. The film's nationwide debut coincides with a third potential case of mad cow disease in the U.S. If confirmed, this case lends poignancy to filmmaker Howard F. Lyman's early predictions about a once obscure disease — bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and its fatal human variation, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

While critics deliberate on the spread of BSE in this country, Lyman, author of The Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, doesn't mince words. During an April 1996 appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, Lyman argued an outbreak of mad cow disease in America could make AIDS seem like the common cold.

He explained how the routine process of grinding up diseased cows to feed live cows turns herbivorous animals into cannibals, some infected with mad-cow. While that practice is now banned, cows may still consume cow blood and waste. Calves regularly ingest milk mixed with bovine blood serum.

Lyman's candor prompted Oprah to swear off burgers and Engler & Cactus Feeders Cattle Company to sue Winfrey, Lyman and Harpo Productions for $12 million each. But a U.S. District Judge threw out the Texas cattlemen's food disparagement angle (nicknamed "veggie libel laws") and the trial ended triumphantly for Lyman and Winfrey.

It also galvanized Lyman's life work. President of Voice for a Viable Future, Lyman previously directed the Beyond Beef Campaign and the Humane Society of the U.S. Eating with Conscience Campaign. He is past president of the International Vegetarian Union and EarthSave International.

Mad Cowboy: The Documentary is Lyman's latest stop on a journey from organic agriculture, vegetarianism, and politics to mad-cow, a landmark lawsuit, and a best-selling book.

The former Montana cattle rancher was an unlikely environmentalist. At 23, he saturated the fields of his 4th generation family farm in fertilizers and herbicides. He crammed 5,000 head of cattle into a factory feedlot. The cows grew sick, so he filled their feed with antibiotics.

But in 1979, with $5 million in annual profits, Lyman lay paralyzed with a spinal cord tumor. He faced a one-in-a-million chance he'd walk again. The prospect of life in a wheelchair wakened lost memories about a boy on a farm.

"When I was a kid, we had birds, trees, living soil. Now the birds were gone. The soil had no worms in it. The farm was no longer a breathing thing; it was an increasingly precarious chemical equation." Lyman vowed to dedicate his life to the land, the family farm, and the animals.

Miraculously, he awoke from surgery able to walk. In 1983 Lyman sold his 10,000-acre farm and became a voice for the financially strapped family farmer. As a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union, Lyman helped pass the National Organic Standards Act of 1990.

Still, Lyman's personal health did not parallel his concern for the nation's food source. At 350 pounds with a cholesterol count of 300, he questioned long-held assumptions about the link between health, livestock farming, and the environment.

"I can tell you from firsthand experience — [animal agriculture] is not sustainable," Lyman contends. Today's factory farms tax water, land and energy stores. Grain-fed livestock guzzle 80% of U.S. water reserves. Beef production consumes more water than the total amount expended on U.S. fruit and vegetable crops, John Robbins claims in The Food Revolution.

Every year enormous lagoons stockpile 220 billion gallons of animal poop. The manure seeps into soil, ground water and local aquifers. An EPA study reveals U.S. farms cause 70% of river pollution and 49% of lake pollution.
Modern farms process livestock assembly-line style in artificial settings that require antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and steroids to keep animals alive. Hog farms warehouse 600-pound sows in narrow gestation stalls. At veal factories tiny calves are chained by the neck inside two-feet-wide crates. Millions of egg-laying hens are packed into 48 to 64 sq. inch wire coops. Each bird occupies a space the size of a folded newspaper. of river pollution and 49% of lake pollution.

More than 25 billion animals perish in industrial slaughterhouses every year. On the poorly supervised kill floor, many are conscious as throats are slit. "If those animals had set out to take revenge on us, they couldn't have done a better job," Lyman says, citing his own obesity as well as America's high rate of heart disease and cancer.

"Suddenly the circle came together for me. We were eating animals and it wasn't working. I became something I never dreamed I'd become: vegetarian."

There's a lot less Lyman these days. He attributes his 130-pound weight loss and vigor to a plant-based diet. "There is one answer to the many different ills afflicting ourselves and our environment," he says. "Everything revolves around the fork."

The cowboy who challenged the beef trade hopes to rile livestock and pesticides too. Lyman imagines a day families return to the land to cultivate organic crops for their own species. He envisions farm communities in place of feedlots and factory farms.

"I'd love to know I'd wandered into my nation's heartland by the sweet smell of grain, rather than the forbidding smell of excrement."

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In 1996 I saw an HBO documentary, To Love Or Kill: Man Vs. Animal. It was the first time I glimpsed inside factory farms and slaughterhouses and it forever ruined my burgers and tuna. I never hated meat, its smell or taste. Still don't. But I can no longer swallow another's fear and pain. Fortunately, today's plant-based meals are downright delicious. A happy stomach convinced my husband to keep our kitchen flesh-free. Now he's full-time veg. Below are some general prep tips, based on my own vegan ventures.  ~Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle

    Season like hamburger, chicken, steak, or any other animal meat. The olive oil captures flavors in a crispy, delicious outer edge.
    VEGETARIANISM 101: Imagine dishes you already make, replacing animal meats with veg meats. My husband doesn't share my affinity for all animals. But he does enjoy my animal-free Thai peanut "chicken," barbeque "ribs," sloppy-joes, cornbread, pumpkin muffins, "meatloaf," shepherd's pie, apple-cranberry cobbler, chocolate chip cookies, cornbread stuffing, roasted tacos, "steak" strips…
    If you're a decent to fabulous carnivore cook, you'll be a decent to fabulous veg cook.
    • Veggie Burgers: Grill in olive oil. Sprinkle burgers in garlic/onion powders, basil, and brown sugar. Ketchup lovers: Baste ketchup with seasonings, both sides of burger. Or check out great vegan sauces such as Annie's Naturals Organic Worcestershire.

    • Veggie Chicken-Style Strips / Thai Peanut: Grill strips in olive oil. Season with garlic and onion powders, basil, Asian seasonings from a speciality store…or other spices you prefer. Once veg chicken strips have crispy edges, stir in: Thai peanut sauce, a few spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter, and a tablespoon or so of brown sugar. Let chicken strips simmer in sauce. Serve over noodles or rice cooked with Earth Balance vegan butter (the best butter-like vegan spread!

    • Veggie Steak-Style Strips / Teriyaki: Grill strips in olive oil. Season with garlic, onion powders or spices you prefer with beef. When steak strips have crispy edges, stir in teriyaki sauce. Let simmer in sauce and mix in grilled veggies. Serve over noodles, rice or cous cous lightly flavored with Earth Balance vegan butter.

    • Sweet & Sour Sloppy-Joes: You need - 1 can cranberry sauce; 12 oz. bottle of chili sauce; 2 lbs. of vegetarian hamburger crumbles; 1 medium onion, grated; 1 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. pepper. Crumble up veggie hamburger into small pieces. Mix all ingredients and heat slowly in a pot or deep skillet. Serve on hamburger buns.

    • Barbecue-Style Veggie Beef Chunks: Grill veg meats in skillet with light olive oil: Gardenburger BBQ Riblets + seitan (beef-like chunks). Add more barbecue sauce, sweeten sauce a bit (if you like sweet/spicy concoctions, as I do!) and any other spices used for BBQ-style. Grill till crispy around edges and serve with sweet potato fries, grilled potato chunks or other side. TIP: Add a bit of Earth Balance vegan butter with olive oil in any of above dishes, for great flavor blend with spices, sauces.

Plant-Based Proteins = Delicious! And most are stashed in mainstream grocer aisles. If not there, veg meats are at stores such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe's…

    ~ BOCA Meatless Burgers (best vegan burgers!)
    ~ Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs (vegan)
    ~ Yves Meatless Meatballs (vegan)
    Yves® Meatless Beef Burger (vegan)

    Yves® Meatless Chicken Burger (vegan)
    ~ BOCA Meatless Chik'n Nuggets (vegan)
    ~ BOCA Meatless Chik'n Patties (vegan)
    ~ Morning Star Chik'n Nuggets (has egg)
    ~ Morning Star Chik Patties (has egg)

    ~ Gardenburger BBQ Riblets (vegan)

    Tofurky® Dogs and Links (vegan)
       Tofurky Hot Dogs
       Tofurky Jumbo Hot Dogs
       Tofurky Breakfast Links
    Tofurky® Sausages (vegan)
       Artisan Sausages
       Gourmet Sausages
       Artisan Andouille Sausages
       Artisan Spinach Pesto Sausages
       Artisan Chick'N and Apple Sausages
       Gourmet Beer Brats
       Gourmet Italian Sausage
       Gourmet Kielbasa Polish Meatless Sausage

    Yves® Hot Dogs & Brats (vegan)
       Yves The Good Dog
       Tofu Dogs
       Meatless Jumbo Hot Dogs
       Yves Meatless Brats
       Meatless Jumbo Hot Dogs
       Meatless Breakfast Patties

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