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gertvegan
Nov 12th, 2004, 11:57 AM
Cowboy speaks to perils of meat

BY BUD NORMAN, The Wichita Eagle, Nov. 12, 2004, www.kansas.com (http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/10161417.htm)


Cowboy songs aren't the usual warm-up music for an anti-meat and pro-vegan lecture, but Howard Lyman -- the self-proclaimed "Mad Cowboy" who spoke Thursday night at Wichita State University-- isn't the usual vegan.

About 400 sympathetic listeners came out to hear Lyman, who has been one of the vegan community's most visible celebrities since a 1996 appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show led to a much-publicized and ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against him and the show by a group of Texas cattlemen.

Lyman's vegan views also attract attention because he was a fourth-generation rancher in his home state of Montana.

"Montana is not the hotbed of vegetarianism," Lyman said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.

Lyman looked and sounded the part of a western farmer.

Despite the traditional appearance and frequent jokes, however, Lyman's message was a warning that "the future is a disaster; we're heading to the cliff at 200 miles an hour."

Reeling off a list of statistics about the rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other ailments in America, Lyman said the cause is the nation's diet. He offered his own autobiography as part of the evidence, saying he had bulked up to 300 pounds as a young football player before a vegetarian -- and then vegan -- lifestyle helped him to lose more than 100 pounds while lowering his cholesterol.

The experience led Lyman to the lecture circuit to advocate the vegan lifestyle, which led him to the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about mad cow disease, and he recounted the experience in detail. He recalled the limousine ride from the airport, the luxury hotel suite, and his agreement with another guest on the show that "mad cow disease is going to make AIDS look like the common cold."

That remark, along with Winfrey's reply that it "stopped me cold from ever eating another hamburger," prompted the lawsuit by the Texas cattlemen under the state's "food disparagement law." Although the court eventually found both Lyman and Winfrey not liable for the comments, he claims he spent six years and "hundreds of thousands of dollars" fighting the charges.

Lyman also said he adopted the vegan lifestyle -- which eschews any use of animal products, including milk, eggs and leather footwear -- as "a lifestyle that requires no animal to die for me, and that makes me feel good."

Answering questions from the audience after his speech, Lyman said he avoids milk with his breakfast cereal by using apple sauce, rice milk, soy milk or almond milk.

Yee ha.