Main Page CJLY
Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
recent showslisten live
Read a Transcript & Donate to Support our Work:

The following transcript is protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Link to Audio and Episode Info Here

Show Transcript

Deconstructing Dinner

Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY

Nelson, B.C. Canada


July 6, 2006


Title: Vegan Cattle Ranchers & Oprah


Producer/Host: Jon Steinman

Transcript: Jennifer D'Souza


Jon Steinman: Welcome to Deconstructing Dinner, produced and recorded at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia. My name's Jon Steinman.


Deconstructing Dinner is a syndicated weekly one-hour program available on both radio and as a downloadable podcast.


As our daily routines inescapably revolve around food, Deconstructing Dinner is a program designed to foster a greater awareness of how this staple of our lives impacts our health, our communities and our planet.


While our food system is currently structured in such a way that it mimics that of an industrial assembly line, very often on Deconstructing Dinner we expose innovative alternatives that in their own way, question the very sustainability of our industrial food system. Now critics of these alternatives often point to the many farmers and producers who recognize no problem with the methods governing how many of our food are grown and produced. In the end, these are the people on the frontlines who see first-hand how our food system operates.


But there are countless numbers of farmers, processors, producers and retailers who after spending time within the current industrial food system, have stopped and realized that this system, instead of sustaining us, is only killing us.


And one of these individuals is Howard Lyman, also referred to as The Mad Cowboy. Howard was a Montana cattle rancher who after almost 20 years of farming became not only a vegetarian, but a vegan, eliminating all animal products from his diet. And since then, Lyman has devoted his life to educating the public about the dangers of a meat-based diet.


Howard Lyman has visited British Columbia on a number of occasions, and was recorded speaking in 2002 at the Taste of Health Expo hosted by Vancouver-based EarthSave Canada. Howard spoke to an audience about his personal experience as a farmer, as a vegan, and as a target in a lawsuit that followed his appearance on Oprah in 1996.


Today's broadcast will feature this very moving and inspiring speech, and this recording is courtesy of the Vancouver-based Necessary Voices society. And should you miss any of today's broadcast, you will be able to listen to the show from the Deconstructing Dinner website at where there will also be additional information about today's show.


And here's Howard Lyman.


Howard Lyman: Here we are today in probably one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth at a time that we need to take a look at what's happening. We might now be the last generation to have the opportunity to live the kind of lifestyle that we have embraced for the last several hundred years. The amazing thing about it is that most of us have no idea in the world about what is going on. What I want to do today is talk to you about the shape of the world, I want to talk to you about what's happening but the most important thing I want to talk to you about today is what you can do about it. As we sit here today there are 6 billion people on the planet. Out of the 6 billion people, 1.2 billion of them every night will go to bed hungry, malnourished. At the same time another 1.2 billion of the 6 billion will go to bed overweight, obese.


The question is, the population of the world is growing, can we continue to feed the number of people on the planet doing what we are doing today. Let's stop and take a look at it. The Surgeon General of the United States, the ex-Surgeon General by the name of C. Everett Koop, who will never go down in history as a knee-jerk Liberal, said 2 out of every 3 North Americans dying today are dying from something associated with their diet. 1 out of every 2 North Americans dying today will die of one disease, heart disease. Main contributing factors of heart disease, saturated fat and cholesterol. All Cholesterol comes from animal products, no such thing as carrot cholesterol, cabbage cholesterol, you can't even buy kale cholesterol (background, laughter). The majority of saturated fats in the North American diet is coming from animal products. As we sit here today, 1 out of every 3 North Americans will have cancer, 1 out of 4 will die of cancer. The amazing thing that they have admitted in the last month, that 1/3 of all cancers they believe come from the food that we are eating. Isn't it not about time that we not only look at the amount of food we produce but the kind of food we are producing.


You know, we talk about North America as being the bread basket of the world, that we will produce the food to feed a hungry world but look at history. If we look at the Cradle of Civilization, we talk about the Golden Crescent that is Iran/Iraq, this is where civilization started and it was where the food was produced and if we go there today it is nothing more than a desert. In North America the Boat People have only been here a little over three hundred years and we have already lost 75% of all the top soil that was here when the Boat People arrived. Can you imagine that it takes 500 years to produce one inch of top soil. We haven't been here long enough to produce an inch and we've lost 3/4 of what we have. That we have an area in the Gulf of Mexico today that is larger than the state of New Jersey that is absolutely, totally dead because of herbicides, pesticides and top soil washing off of the central part of North America.


As we sit here today we talk about global warming. For years the debate has gone on, it's happening, no it isn't happening, worry about it, don't worry about it. Well, the Eskimos have lived in northern North America for over 10 000 years. This year is the first time in the history of the Eskimos that they have seen a bird that we know as the robin. Can you imagine a society of people that their survival has been predicated on the observation of their environment and in 10 000 years, never one time, did they ever see a robin. They do not even have a word in their vocabulary for robin and now we have them showing up for the first time in 10 000 years. And the amazing thing is at the same time the robins show up, insects are showing up for the robins to eat and the Eskimos do not have a name for the insects that are showing up at the same time as the robins.


Can you imagine that a year ago Russia sent a cruise ship that tied to the ice off the North Pole and the people got off the ship with their umbrellas and walked to the North Pole and got their pictures taken. The same place that Admiral Byrd, when he was the first known human showing up there, went through the blizzards and the dog sleds and everything and ended up at the North Pole. The first human that we know of to get there and today we have people showing up with their umbrellas to get their picture taken.


As we sit here, we have a hunk of ice that has broken off of the South Pole. That hunk of ice is larger than the state of Massachusetts. There is enough water in that one iceberg to cover the state of Texas at a depth of 5 feet. Now I'm not so sure that it isn't a good idea to cover the state of Texas 5 feet deep in water, depending on who is home at the time (background, laughter), but the amazing thing about it is that down in the states, the United States of America, the Administration in the last week has flip-flopped on the global warming issue, from one side to the other and they can't decide whether they want to go with the facts or if they want to go with the fantasy. I'm telling you as we sit here today, I'm going to talk to you about facts. I'm going to talk to you about the future. I'm going to talk to you about what you can do about it because if it continues at the rate that it is, if global warming continues at the rate that it is, the Arctic Ice Field will disappear in your lifetime.


We have found three new islands that we did not even know existed. This isn't fantasy, this is fact. And how much of it, how much of it is related to our lifestyle. I want to talk to you about that because those are things that we can do something about. I stand in front of you today I'm a 4th generation farmer, rancher, feedlot operator from Montana. At one time I had 7 000 head of cattle, 12 000 acres of crop and 30 employees. Raised in Montana during the Second World War my parents couldn't hire help and so my mother and father were milking cows and my brother, two sisters and I were raised by my grandparents. Now back then daycare, much different than it is today, no swings, no slides, no Lego blocks. Back then daycare, was working in the garden. My first job, a pint jar, collecting ladybugs to put in the jar. Not to kill them but to count them because the more ladybugs the healthier the garden was. I thought it was the Garden of Eden. I absolutely loved the birds and the trees and the living soil and the only thing I ever wanted to be was a farmer. What a piece of cake, my parents owned a farm, I wanted to be a farmer.


Twelve years I could go to school I didn't do anything other than party and play football. I guarantee you I never missed a party. In twelve years never one time did I ever take a book home, never did I study because I knew I was going to be a farmer. And believe it or not my senior year they came to me and said, Lyman you are going to graduate (background, laughter). Almost had the big one right there I could hardly believe it. And if you think I had a hard time believing it, can you imagine what it must have been like for my instructors. Lyman's going to graduate (background, laughter). But I figured that out, they looked at this guy, and said, this guy's so god dang dumb if we don't graduate him he may come back (background, laughter). They didn't want to take a chance on that. They graduated me and I was thrilled to death. I went home to that farm, that farm was a business to be run and I didn't have the tools to run a business. I was dumber than a post. I didn't let it bother me any, I did what most good red blooded North American youth 12 years of going to school, don't learn anything do, I just immediately went on to university (background, laughter). I went on to Montana State University. I learned a thing that was called Better Living Through Chemistry. I learned about herbicides, pesticides, hormones and medications because I wanted to be an Agri-businessman. I couldn't spell agri-business, but I knew that's what I wanted to be. I got a degree in agriculture. I went home and I said to my father, I said, hey pop move over I'm going to take this one horse farm and turn it into an agri-business. My father looked at me and said, what in the world is that and I said, haven't you ever heard of Better Living Through Chemistry and he said, no our job is to work with nature. I said, no that's old-fashioned.


My great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father were all organic farmers, I was a chemical junkie. I took that farm and over a period of years I turned it into an operation with thousands of head of cattle, thousands acres of crop, 30 employees. I can't tell you what a thrill it was the first time I wrote a cheque for a 1 000 000 dollars and it didn't bounce (background, laughter). I thought, man I have arrived, I'm the Donald Trump of agriculture. Just when I was on top of the world I got a wake up call, I ended up paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor said to me, they said, you have a tumor on your spinal cord. If that tumor is on the inside of the cord you have less than one chance in a million you'll ever walk again. Somebody give you the odds of one chance in a million they're basically telling you, hey sucker pick out the wheelchair you like, you're going to be in it for the rest of your life.


Jon Steinman: And you're tuned in to Deconstructing Dinner, a weekly one-hour program produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson British Columbia. On today's broadcast we are taking a listen to a speech given by the Montana cattle rancher turned vegan, Howard Lyman, also known as the Mad Cowboy. Lyman spoke in Vancouver in 2002, and this recording is courtesy of the Vancouver-based Necessary Voices Society. You can find out more about the society at


As Howard most recently explained in that last segment of his speech, he had, in 1979, developed a tumor on his spinal cord. And as he will explain in this next segment, this problem all began as a result of what he calls brainwashing while attending Montana State University.


Howard Lyman: There I am in the hospital flat on my back there's a lot of things going through my mind. It was not about owning seven combines at 100 000 dollars a piece or 20 tractors or 30 trucks. What kept going through my mind was why I became a farmer, the birds, the trees and the living soil. I had to admit to myself that night, buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of chemicals, I was the problem not the solution. And I wondered, odds of one in a million, I'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, what kind of invalid would I be. Am I going to sit in a wheelchair and feel sorry for myself or can I actually make my life amount to something, can I do something worthwhile. I made up my mind that night whether I ever walked again or not that I would spend the rest of my life trying to get that farm back to what it was when I was a kid, with birds and trees and living soil.


The next morning they took me up and operated on me for twelve hours. I stand in front of you today, I have no bone on part of my spinal column and after they cut the bone off, sure enough, the tumor was on the inside of the cord. They split the covering on the cord, not only was it on the inside but it was under the cord. They could not lift the cord up to get to the tumor, all they could do was pick a nerve and cut it, hope the tumor was attached like a fish on a line. They picked one, they cut it, they took out a tumor the size of my thumb. I walked out of the hospital in 1979 a one in a million operation but I don't think I walked out of there because of the skill of my surgeons, I don't think I walked out of there because of the care of the hospital. I think I walked out of there because someone up there was saying I have more for you to do (background, applause).


When I walked out of the hospital in 1979, I knew that what I had learned at Montana State University was nothing more than brainwashing. I knew that I had to reeducate myself and the first book I got was Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring. I read that book and the first time in my life I knew what was happening to the birds and the trees and the soil. And then Francis Moore Lappá and then Wendell Berry and Thomas Berry and after reading that I knew what I was doing on my farm was wrong.


Two years of being paralyzed and recovering, 7,000 head of cattle and 30 employees, I don't need to tell you the financial shape of my farm. I went and saw my banker and I said to my banker, I need your help, we need to start farming with nature. My banker reared back in his chair and said, what in the world does that mean. I said, well, I think we need to become organic farmers and my banker looked at me and he laughed and said, you want me to lend you money and you're not going to spend it with my other customers, the chemical dealer, the pharmaceutical dealer, the fertilizer dealer. He said, there will never be a day like that. So 1983 I sold my farm, I paid my debts but I didn't give up on what I set out to do. I kept working with other farmers, not to make the mistakes that I made.


Well 1987 I got a call and they said to me, how would you like to go to Washington DC and work on Capitol Hill. I can remember looking up and saying, oh lord, 535 members of Congress, I just absolutely knew they wanted to do what was right (background, laughter). Well I went to Washington DC, I worked five years on Capitol Hill. If you remember nothing else I say today I would like you to remember what I learned five years working on Capitol Hill. I learned a thing that was called a Golden Rule. Them that got the gold, make the rules (background, laughter).


After five years of working there I said to my friends, I said, this game is rigged, the deck is marked, we are not going to win in Washington DC and my friends said to me, what are you going to do, go talk to the people. I said, ya and they said, oh come on you're never going to get half of the people to do anything. I said, you don't need half, 80% of the people alive on the planet today are brain dead, they are part of the herd following nose to tail and if you follow nose to tail there is only one thing you ever see in front of you (background, laughter). Less than 20% of the people alive on the planet are thinking, our job is to communicate with those 20% that are thinking. Look around here today you notice that Joe Six-Pack is not here. He's sitting at home he's probably watching a ball-game, drinking a cold one. He hasn't got time to worry about his health, the health of the planet, the animals but remember when the majority of those people that are thinking decide which direction they're going to go, the herd will follow. And so our job, our job is to go and impart the information to those people that are still thinking.


Now we need to think about this a little because each and every one of us we think we have learned. I came from Montana. Montana is not the hot bed of vegetarianism (background, laughter). I was one of the first 300 pound football players in North America. I never found an animal product I wouldn't stuff down my throat because I thought I needed the protein, the iron, I needed to go out on the field and knock the other guy down. And when I quit playing football I kept eating the same way and I got well over 300 pounds. My blood pressure was sky high and my cholesterol was over 300. I'd sit down to have lunch and my nose would bleed. Now being from Montana, I'd rather be caught riding a stolen horse than admitting to someone that I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian (background, laughter). But I did, I did the next best thing, I became the world's worst closet vegetarian. Lettuce and dairy products and for one year that was my diet. I lost some weight and my blood pressure came down slightly, my cholesterol came down slightly and I thought, wow if I can do that being the world's worst vegetarian just think what I could do if I could become a vegan and I could spell vegan (background, laughter). And I became a vegan and I lost 130 pounds, my blood pressure went from sky high to normal, my cholesterol from 300 to 135. Oh, I tell you what I was ecstatic, I wanted to go out, I wanted to talk to everybody about what I'd learned, about how they could change their diet. I knew I had the answer. I was telling it to my friends, my family, I was even talking to my mother-in-law (background, laughter).


I've been married for over 34 years, never one time in 34 years have I ever regretted marrying my wife. Now she couldn't say that but I married better than she did but I will tell you that she came with a mother for 34 years, it's been a severe test (background, laughter). Here I was thinking about telling her something that had the potential to extend her life (background, laughter). I thought about that for a long, long time. But finally I picked up the phone and I called my mother-in-law and I said, hey Marg I want to talk to you about my new diet and on the other end of the phone I heard it go click (background, laughter). I can distinctly remember looking up and saying, thank you Lord. But I thought, probably too direct of an approach and so I called her back and I said, hey Marg why don't you and Ralph come to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. She said, uh, you're not going to have turkey. I said, I'll tell you if you come to our house on Thanksgiving dinner, I guarantee you we will have turkey. She agreed to come, she knew she had me eating crow.


Well, Thanksgiving Day showed up, my mother-in-law came in the house like a rocket. Immediately to the oven, she jerked open the oven, no turkey. She looked in the refrigerator, no turkey. She even opened the dryer, no turkey (background, laughter). And she said to me, you guaranteed we'd have turkey. Well, I took my mother-in-law by the hand, I was wearing my gloves. I took her to the backdoor I opened it up and in the backyard I had a live turkey. I gave my mother-in-law an axe (background, laughter), not a real good idea to give your mother-in-law an axe. Now, I told her, if you want turkey you've gotta kill it. Now this story has good news and bad news. Good news is, that turkey is still alive, bad news, so is my mother-in-law (background, laughter).


But you know we get this idea that when we know the answer we just point at somebody and say let me tell you what you ought to do. You see their eyes roll up, you hear their ears slam shut. People don't want you telling them what they ought to do. You've got to walk your talk, you have to go about what you believe and when you do that, sooner or later, they will come to you and tap you on the shoulder and say, are you one of those v-people (background, laughter). Now when they do that you've got a 35 second window of opportunity of telling them why they ought to change but remember it's a 35 second window of opportunity and I want to impress on you how important this is. There is a story about an old farmer that went to church, blizzard, no one else showed up at church other than he and the preacher. Finally he sits down and the preacher looks out and sees this old farmer sitting there and thought, well boy if he made it I'm going to preach the sermon of my life. So the preacher got up on the pulpit. He gave a sermon that went on and on and on and he finally finished and he went to the old farmer and he said, so what did you think of that. And the old farmer said, well that was really something but he said, you know when I load up a load of hay and I take it out to feed my cows and only one cow shows up, I don't feed her the whole load (background, laughter). So remember when someone asks you why you are a v-person, it's a 35 second window of opportunity, not feeding them the whole load.


But you need some of the information that is out there so that you can get their attention. Here we are in North America, 4% of the world's population, 30% of the world's diabetes. 1 out of every 4 teenagers in North America is overweight or obese. The average North American today is eating 30 pounds of cheese per person per year. A teenager in North America today is consuming over 30 teaspoons of sugar a day. The average 7 year old in North America is consuming 6.24 hamburgers a week. A hamburger is 40 to 60% good ol' greasy yellow fat. Obesity is the number one health problem in North America today. It's overtaken smoking. Are we doing anything about it? Are we talking about going to school and teaching kids about fruits and vegetables and eating raw? No... it's about fast food, we're inviting fast food restaurants in, providing the school's lunches for our kids. You go to the gym to see a basketball game and you see advertisements for all of the soda companies, that they're putting up the money and the schools have to agree for the advertising money that they have to sell x number of cases of their product, every year. I'm telling you what we are doing right now, is we are putting this society in serious jeopardy because the fork is the most dangerous weapon in the arsenal of the Homo sapiens. We are digging more graves with our fork than any other tool out that is out there.


It's about time we wake up, it's about time we go to the bookstore and cafeterias and start asking some hard questions. Who produced our food, what are they using on it, what is it doing to you, the environment and the animals? I will never forget a few years ago, I came to British Columbia. I was given a tour to the forest and we went there and there was a lovely sign and the sign said, "Welcome to the Forest" and for an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, there was not one tree standing. Can you imagine inviting people to come and enjoy the forest, cutting down all of the trees and not even having the common courtesy to go and cut down the sign (background, laughter). This is the mentality that we have in North America today. We are more concerned about the financial return of what's happening out there than we are with the fact of our own health.


Jon Steinman: And you're tuned in to Deconstructing Dinner, a weekly one-hour program produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia. On today's broadcast we are taking a listen to a speech given by the Montana cattle-rancher turned vegan, Howard Lyman, also known as the Mad Cowboy. Lyman spoke in Vancouver in 2002, and this recording is courtesy of the Vancouver-based Necessary Voices Society.


Should you miss any of today's broadcast or would like to find out more about Howard Lyman, you can visit the Deconstructing Dinner website and that website is And if you are a regular listener of the program, by all means send us a comment and tell us what you think of Deconstructing Dinner, perhaps you have some suggestions for an upcoming show and you can do that by emailing the program at


We are going to take a quick musical break and when we return we will listen to the remainder of Howard Lyman's speech recorded in Vancouver as he describes what he believes needs to be removed from our diets and how his beliefs landed himself and Oprah Winfrey into a lengthy legal battle.


Musical Break: Issa Bagayogo, Nogo, Timbuktu, Six Degrees Records


Jon Steinman: And you're tuned into Deconstructing Dinner and that musical intermission was West African artist, Issa Bagayogo and a selection off his album titled Timbuktu, released on Six Degrees Records.


If you are just tuning in, Deconstructing Dinner is a syndicated weekly program that discusses the impacts our food choices have on ourselves, our communities and the planet. And on today's broadcast we have been taking a listen to a speech given by Howard Lyman, better known as the Mad Cowboy, a Montana cattle-rancher turned vegan. His speech was recorded in Vancouver in June of 2002, and up until now, Lyman has described his personal story and what led him to take meat products out of his diet, and in this upcoming and final segment of his speech, Lyman further explains why he believes the rest of us should be taking meat out of our diets and he describes how his 1996 appearance on Oprah threw him into a heated legal battle with Texas cattlemen


Howard Lyman: People come to me and they say alright wise guy if you were to take one thing out of my diet what would it be? I look them in the eye and say, if I was to take one thing out of your diet the first thing I would take out of your diet would be dairy. I was raised on the largest dairy farm in the state of Montana. I believed that milk was nature's most perfect food, that milk did a body good. But knowing what I know today the first thing I would say to somebody if you are going to take one product out of your diet, take out dairy. 1 out of every 2 citizens in North America today, their body is having a reaction to dairy products and that number comes from the National Dairy Association. Now their solution to that is just go out and get some Lactaid or something and we can take care of that and you can enjoy ice cream with everybody else.


Let me tell you a story. My wife and I, we have six kids. Our youngest daughter from the time she was little had a terrible problem with her complexion. We took her to the best dermatologists, bought the best medicine, nothing seemed to work. I read a book that was written by Dr. Daniel Twogood, who wrote a book that was called, No Milk. After I read the book I called up my daughter who was a sophomore at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and I said to her, hey Moll I just read this book about dairy products and what it does to people like you and what it does to your complexion, what you ought to do is give up dairy products. She said, oh dad you've been in California so long you are getting just as screwy as they are (background, laughter). She said, I just love dairy products, she said, I drink half a gallon of milk every other day. Well I said, I'll tell you what, if you will go 60 days with no dairy products and if your complexion does not clear up I guarantee you never again in your life will I ever recommend anything and she said, boy that's worth it (background, laughter). Well, 6 weeks later she called me up and she said, you know dad that's the best advice you've ever given me. Her complexion cleared up after 20 years by doing one thing, cutting out dairy products. So I would say to you, first thing I would recommend for someone to take out of their diet, dairy.


They say, alright wise guy if you could take out one meat what would be the first meat. I would recommend the first meat you take out of your diet to be, chicken (HL, dramatic gasp). Oh no, not chicken, what will the colonel think (background, laughter). Somebody said to me recently, why chicken? I don't think that there is anything in my opinion that gets more chemicals, more hormones, more antibiotics than chicken, that in factory operations today they actually grind-up live chickens and feed them back to chickens and then they go out and scrape up the manure and feed it back to the chickens. It gives a whole new meaning to, finger licking good (background, laughter).


First thing out dairy, second thing out chicken, third fish (HL, dramatic gasp) no, not fish. You need to read a book, Theo Colborn wrote a book that's called, Our Stolen Future, about pregnant women eating fish, two meals a month out of the Great Lakes while pregnant. They tested their children after they were born compared to children that were born in the same area whose mothers were not eating fish while pregnant and up to 20 years after the children were born they found that they had a greater amount of learning disability and dyslexia than children born in the same area whose mothers did not eat fish. Or how about the study that was done right here in Vancouver, British Columbia. They took mothers who were nursing tested their breast milk, they were eating fish two meals a month. Fish out of the Pacific that were considered to be pristine, they found their breast milk loaded with DDT, Enrin and Aldrin, that had been banned for over 25 years along with PCB and Dioxin. Dioxin the most deadly chemical available on the face of the earth and they were giving it to the thing that they considered they loved the most, their child.


First thing out dairy, second thing out chicken, third fish and then red meat. Let's stop and look at it. What's the sensible approach to it? The sensible approach to it, is that I can go 60 days without an animal product, 180 meals, there's not one person that's here today that can not go 180 meals without eating an animal product and find out how it effects you.


I will tell you that I'm standing in front of you today because I changed my diet. If I had not changed my diet I would not be alive today. My wife and I went to her 45th class reunion. She and I graduated a year apart, graduated Great Falls, Montana. We go to her 45th class reunion and 1/3 of her class has already died. You've never seen so many canes, crutches and walkers in all your life and the people are standing around talking about their latest operation, their favourite doctor. I'm telling you, you've never saw people in such sorry condition and here they are people in their early 60's and 1/3 of the class has already died.


Every study that I know of, the one that was done at Loma Linda University, the one that was done in England, the one that was done in Germany, they found that vegetarians lived up to 7 to 10 years longer than people that were eating the standard North American diet. A study that was done in Finland, where they put people on a vegan diet lived up to 15 years longer. Can you imagine, if any of you could go down to the local pharmacy and you can buy a bottle of pills that said you could live 7 to 15 years longer. We'd have a line around the block but really all you have to do is change your diet. I did. No one came further from this issue than I did. Here I was, Montana, cattleman, raised cattle and now I go out and I talk to people about not eating them.


When I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I'll never forget, I met Oprah for the first time and she came up to me and said, I just saw the movie Babe five times, I will never again eat pork. And I looked up and said, Lord it's gonna be a great day (background, laughter). I go into the Green Room and I'm sitting there waiting to go onto the show to talk to 9 million viewers and the phone rings. Everyone of you guys here knows that if you're going to go on television to talk to 9 million people, it's your wife's responsibility to pick up the phone and call you up to tell you exactly what to say (background, laughter). Well, I'm in the Green Room my wife called up and she told me exactly what to say. I go out, I'm sitting on the stage and sitting to the right of me is a grandmother from England whose granddaughter is dying of the human form of Mad Cow Disease to the left of me, a man from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, going through my mind was what my wife told me, she said, remember don't say anything stupid (background, laughter). Well I'm sitting there wondering if there is a comma in that sentence or not (background, laughter).


Oprah Winfrey comes out and she looks at me and says, here's a man who believes within tens years we could have a disease that would make AIDS look like the common cold and I said, absolutely. Oprah said, that's a strong statement and I said, Oprah we have 100 000 cows a year, fine at night, dead in the morning. We round them up, grind them up, turn them into feed and feed them back to other cows. We go out and collect road kill, deer, elk, possum, raccoons, grind them up, feed them to cows. Then we take euthanized pets, dogs and cats, full of chemicals that are used to kill them, the city of Los Angels alone, 200 tons of dogs and cats a month, ground up, turned into feed and fed back to our pets and food animals even though we know the chemicals used to kill them are not broken down in the rendering process and Oprah, she looks to the guy from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and says, Dr. Webber are we feeding cows to cows? I'll never forget what he had to say, know...ahhhh, (background, laughter) there's a limited amount of that going on. Well, I'll tell you right now, in my opinion, 95% of all the cattle fed in factory feed lots today are eating the remains of other animals. Then Oprah, she ends up making the statement that gets me sued (background, laughter). She says, that just stops me cold, I will never again eat a burger. Now she shouldn't say to the 9 million viewers you shouldn't eat a burger, she didn't say I think the meat's infected, she just said, the stops ME cold I will never again eat a burger.


On that show I called for the fact that we should quit feeding cows to cows, that cows are an absolute herbivore. We're not only turning them into carnivores we are turning them into cannibals. We're taping that show, it takes about 2 hours we get done, I walk up to Oprah and I said, hey Oprah give me ten minutes I'll get you off of chicken (background, laughter). Oprah looks at me and says, only one animal a day (background, laughter).


Well, going onto that show I knew that 13 states have a law called, The Food Disparagement Law, a law that you can't say something you know to be false about a perishable commodity. I didn't say anything I believed to be false. Every word I said on that show I believed to be true. So I went about my business and didn't pay much attention to it and a few weeks later I got a call. It was a national news magazine and they said, do you realize you're being sued along with Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Production by a group of Texas cattleman. I said, no can I put you on hold. I put him on hold, I raced into my library, I inventoried my vegetarian cookbooks, I knew those cattleman wanted those vegetarian cookbooks more. I went back and said, I can't talk now I have to put in a call to Oprah. I called, left a message to Oprah, I said, Oprah if we lose this suit I'm throwing in my vegetarian cookbooks you have to put up the money (background, laughter).


Well, a couple of months after the show the USDA and FDA did exactly what I had called for, they banned the feeding of cows, sheep and goats back to cows, sheep and goats (background, applause). I thought, man we're gonna go to Amarillo, Texas and Amarillo, Texas is not the end of the world but it is clearly visible from there (background, laughter). If you're going to give the world an enema you send the hose to Amarillo. I thought, sure we would go to Amarillo, Texas the judge a 72 year old lady, a tough old heifer, I thought, sure she'd pick up the hammer, slam it down and say case dismissed. Little did I realize that 25% of all of the cattle fed for human consumption in North America come from around Amarillo, Texas. 150 feed lots averaging 55 000 head of cattle from around Amarillo, Texas. The largest employer in Amarillo, the slaughter facility, killing cattle. Bumper stickers all over town that said, the only mad cow in Texas is named Oprah.


I knew we were in trouble and I said to my lawyer, I said to him, I said, we need to ask for a change of venue. Next day we go and we see the judge and we say your honour we would like a change of venue. She picks up the hammer and slaps it down and says, motion denied, bring in the jury pool. 140 people file into the room, you've never seen so many hats, boots and belt buckles in all your life (background, laughter). I lean over to my lawyer and I said, we might as well write the appeal today, I think we have less than 1 chance in 100 that we can win. The end of the day we have 12 jurors absolutely steeped in the cattle culture.


Now after we got the jury that night I'm talking to my lawyer and he said, you realize that they are going to call you to the stand tomorrow. He said, the plaintiffs' attorneys are down in the bar right now laughing that there are not 12 people in the state of Texas that can be put on a jury to find a vegetarian, not liable. He said, the first question they are going to ask you is if you are a vegetarian. I said, I can handle that, he said, you better or we will lose. I said, the thing I want to tell you is the thing that I am happiest about today, that no animal has to die for me to live (background, applause). He said, boy don't say that, this is Texas. Well sure enough the next day I'm called to the stand, the plaintiff's attorney is looking at me and he's laughing and he's looking at the jury and he said, Mr. Lyman is it not true, he said, I can hardly say it, is it not true that you are a vegetarian. I looked at the jury and said, I will not apologize for something that has saved my life and the jury they were nodding their heads because they knew exactly where I was coming from.


I was on the stand for days. They asked me everything you could imagine. They asked me one time, they said, Mr. Lyman has anyone ever called you irresponsible. And I said yes. I looked over at my lawyer and he's going, no, no, no. The plaintiff's attorney looks like he's found the key to the Gordian Knot, and he said, who, I said, my wife (background, laughter). The jury's sitting over there saying, been there, done that. Well, they asked every question you could think and finally they got to the end and they said, Mr. Lyman are you proud of having drug all of us through this issue and I said, let me tell you what I'm proud of, and my lawyer's going, no, no, no (background, laughter). I said, the thing I am happiest about today is that no animal has to die for me to live. It is on the record in front of everyone that cares to know. I will tell you right now that no animal has to die for us to live and for me that makes my life worthwhile. Nobody here has been responsible for more animals dying than I have but I'm pleased today that, that doesn't have to happen anymore.


That jury steeped in the cattle culture found Oprah, Harpo Production and myself, not liable. The Cattlemen couldn't believe that, they appealed it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and over a year we end up with an unanimous panel decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that says Oprah, Harpo Production and myself are not liable and then in their opinion they said, everything that Lyman said on that show was true and the truth is not actionable. Now the Cattlemen they asked for a rehearing, it was denied and then 140 Cattlemen filed suit in State Court for exactly the same cause of action. Not being from Texas, they moved it from State Court to Federal Court, they've appealed that. In over six years we have been paying lawyers in Texas for standing up and telling the truth. I will say to you today we are the point in our lives today, that it is our responsibility to stand up for what we believe is right (background, applause). If you look in the eyes of the children you know it is our responsibility, we know what is going on, it is time to come to a place, like Taste of Health, immerse ourselves in the facts, take them home and be prepared when someone taps you on the shoulder and says, are you one of the v-people. But remember the 35 second rule.


Jon Steinman: And that was The Mad Cowboy, Howard Lyman, speaking in Vancouver at an event sponsored by EarthSave Canada. You can find out more about Howard by visiting his website and that website is Howard Lyman is most recently the author of the book, "No More Bull," in which he exposes the lies sustaining the meat industry and makes a strong case for plant-based diets. In it Lyman includes over 100 vegan recipes, and all the info about that book is again on his website,


And again, the recording heard on today's broadcast of Deconstructing Dinner was courtesy of the Necessary Voices Society, and you can check out a great selection of recordings by visiting their website Additional info can also be found on the Deconstructing Dinner website which will be mentioned at the end of today's broadcast.


Howard Lyman: The fork is the most dangerous weapon in the arsenal of the homosapians. We're digging more graves with our fork than any other tool that is out there.


ending theme


Jon Steinman: That was this week's edition of Deconstructing Dinner, produced and recorded in the studios of Nelson, British Columbia's Kootenay Co-op Radio. I've been your host Jon Steinman. I thank my technical assistant Dianne Matenko.


Deconstructing Dinner is heard on radio stations across British Columbia, and is also available in a podcast format. All of those affiliated with Kootenay Co-op Radio are volunteers, and financial support for this station is received through membership, donations and sponsorship from local businesses and organizations.


Should you have any comments about today's show, want to learn more about topics covered, or would like to listen to previous broadcasts, you can visit the website for Deconstructing Dinner at . Till next week.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.