Practical Issues > Factory Farming > Cows

Mad Cowboy Eating with Conscience Tour '98

by Alka Chandna
Editor, Vegan.Com

Howard F. Lyman, co-defendant with Oprah Winfrey in the "veggie libel" case brought by Texas ranchers in Amarillo this past year, is on a North American tour to promote his new book, Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher who won't eat meat (Scribner; June 3, 1998).

A former cattle rancher-turned-vegetarian and food safety activist, in 1996, Lyman revealed, to a national television audience, how the cattle industry potentially exposed Americans to Mad Cow Disease by feeding cows the rendered remains of slaughtered animals - including other cows. A fourth generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher, Lyman became enamored of the "bold new age of chemically enhanced agriculture" as a student in agricultural college. Spurning the organic farming methods of his father and grandfather, he became a convert to modern chemical farming techniques: he fed his cows with hormones and antibiotics, and blanketed his farm with pesticides and herbicides. Admitting that at the time he "never met a chemical he didn't like, " Lyman says that he, like other dairy and cattle farmers, poisoned his animals and polluted his farms.

In 1989, the discovery of a rare spinal tumor led Lyman to examine his life. In MAD COWBOY, he tells the moving story of his own personal transformation, and how he became a crusader for organic farming and more conscious eating habits. Lyman describes the devastating effects that modern feed lot operations are having - and will continue to have - on the environment, and also outlines the profound health benefits that switching to a vegetarian diet offers, including reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. After adopting a vegetarian diet, Lyman himself lost 130 pounds and lowered his cholesterol by more than 150 points.

Written in the tradition of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, MAD COWBOY is an honestly written, urgent wake-up call to America, a heartfelt plea for all consumers to take a closer look at the food they eat, and how it is grown.

  A powerful expose on food production in the United States, Howard Lyman's Mad Cowboy : Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher who won't eat Meat includes information that could change the way you eat forever.
    Cattle ranchers turned cows into cannibals. Until August 1997, cattle were routinely fed the remains of other cows. The Department of Agriculture and the FDA banned the practice, fearing the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as Mad Cow Disease. But it remains legal to feed cows "rendered" -- dead and ground up -- parts of certain animals, including the blood of other cows, despite the fact that this practice may allow deadly illnesses to enter the food chain. In 1995, five million tons of processed slaughterhouse leftovers were sold for animal feed.

In an effort to prevent disease, Lyman, like other ranchers, fed his cows antibiotics even before they became ill. Soon, Lyman was on an "antibiotic treadmill" constantly changing drugs as the cows became resistant to them, and even using antibiotics after they were banned because of the dangers they posed to human health.

Every day, Lyman sprayed his feedlot with insecticides which would then fall into the cattle's food and water -- and eventually become part of someone's dinner.

Ranchers relentlessly used growth hormones, particularly DES, which they stockpiled when it was banned. To increase their profits, ranchers also routinely fed growth hormones to cattle within two weeks of their slaughter, despite a government ban on the practice.

Dairy ranchers continue to use recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to enhance milk production, despite the fact that this chemical -- which has been implicated in causing cancer and other diseases -- shows up in milk.

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