In each issue Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.
Vegetarians in Paradise proudly presents its 24 Carrot Award to Howard Lyman for educating the public on the dangers of Mad Cow Disease and for promoting a vegan diet in his llectures, in his book Mad Cowboy,and on these web sites: madcowboy.com, Voice for a Viable Future and EarthSave.
Howard has worn many hats in his life. He has been a cattle rancher who has become a vegan. He has run for Congress. He has served as president of the International Vegetarian Union, and now heads EarthSave. He is a best-selling author and a lecturer.
His cowboy hat was almost shot from his head after his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show when he described the dangers of mad cow disease and the possibility of it being in our food supply. When Oprah announced she would never eat another hamburger, his life changed.
Her announcement brought an armed possee of Texas ranchers who lassoed Howard and Oprah and dragged them into court for violating the state's food disparagement law. Howard and Oprah won that court case which is now pending appeal by the Texas cattle ranchers.
We decided to organize our friendly posse to track Howard down and have him stand still long enough for an interview that we could share with our readers.
What follows are the questions asked by Vegetarians in Paradise (VIP) and the answers by Howard Lyman (HL)
VIP: How long were you vegetarian before becoming vegan? How long have you been a vegan? What foods were the most difficult to give up?
HL: I was a vegetarian one year before I became vegan. I have been vegan now going on 10 years. Dairy products were the most difficult to give up.
VIP:What personal health benefits have you derived since you have been a vegan?
HL: Health benefits I have derived: I have lost weight. My blood pressure has gone from sky high to normal and my cholesterol has gone from 300 to 135.
VIP: In your book you say you traveled about 100,000 miles a year. Are you still keeping that pace? How many weeks a year are you on the road giving speeches? Approximately how many speeches have you given during the last year? Do you treat yourself to a vacation?
HL: I have slowed down in my travel. This summer my wife and I actually took a month off and vacationed. I still travel 30 to 40 weeks a year, and it is not unusual to do several events a day.
VIP: Does your family follow your vegan lifestyle?
HL: My wife is also vegan. Several members of our family are vegetarian, and we seem to add a few more each year.
VIP: Have you made any appearances overseas? How does the vegan movement overseas compare to the movement in the U.S?
HL: I have traveled to England, Holland, Scotland, Italy, and there is a much stronger vegetarian movement than vegan there. In the US I believe the strongest movement is towards a vegan lifestyle.
VIP: How has your appearance on Oprah's show changed your life? What is the status of legal suits brought against you by the Texas cattle people?
HL: My appearance on the Oprah Show moved me from being an unknown farm boy to a semi-celebrity. Today we are waiting on the Judge in Amarillo, Texas to determine how much of our legal expenses the first group of plaintiffs are liable for. There is also a second suit that was filed in state court that we have moved to federal court, and that group of cattlemen has appealed to the judge to move it back to state court. We are waiting on her ruling at this time.
VIP: Congratulations, we understand that Mad Cowboy has become a best seller? Are there plans for a paperback edition? Are you thinking about writing another book?
HL: Mad Cowboy is now in its second printing (hardcover), and it is scheduled to be released in paperback in August 2001. I am thinking about another book, but at this time it is just a thought.
VIP: Tell us about the most challenging audience you faced?
HL: The most challenging audience was at Utah State University where several hundred irate cattlemen showed up. The university hired armed uniformed security to protect me and prior to my talk, a VP of the University told the audience the school did not agree with anything I had to say. When she came down off the platform, I asked her how she could say that not knowing what I was about to say. She responded, "It was the safest thing to do." The talk lasted almost four hours, and the last cattleman before he left, said , "I have to give you a lot of credit. You've got a lot more guts than I've got." I believe it was the first time that anyone had ever shared the truth with those cattlemen.
VIP: What do you think it would take to convince more people to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle?
HL: The facts about the health, environmental and animal costs associated with a meat-based diet would change most people to consider a vegetarian diet if they knew those facts. I believe the majority of Americans will adopt a plant-based diet in my lifetime.
VIP: You ran for political office in 1982 in Montana. Wbat would persuade you to run for office again?
HL: My wife told me that if I would ever again run for political office, I would need a new wife. This is a cost I am unwilling to bear at this time!
VIP: What individuals have affected your life, and in what areas have they influenced your thinking?
HL: The individual that most affected my thinking has been Gandhi. His approach to reverence for all life has been the most far-reaching teaching that has changed my life.
VIP: What are your duties as president of EarthSave? How do you juggle your organizational duties with your busy speaking engagements?
HL: I travel to EarthSave Chapters and encourage the local groups to become part of the solution and not part of the problem. When I travel and speak, I always encourage people to join local groups and share part of the burden of saving our species.
VIP: In what other organizations are you currently active?
HL: I currently support the groups, FARM, PETA, PCRM, OCA, Farm Sanctuary, and many other groups who are doing this type of work.
VIP: You speak so "fondly" of your "dear" mother-in-law. How is she? Has she ever heard one of your speeches? What is your relationship really like?
HL: My mother-in-law is alive and well. She has never heard one of my speeches but has watched a video that I made when I referred to her. We are communicating well although not often.
VIP: Tell us a little bit about how you spend your leisure time?
HL: My favorite pastime is reading and spending time with my family.
VIP: What do you predict for the future of the vegetarian movement? Where do you see your role?
HL: I believe the vegetarian movement, which at this time encompasses the majority of the people alive on the planet today, will continue to grow. I see my role as that of a motivator to the young activists in the first world.
VIP: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about you that we haven't touched on?
HL: I believe for the human species to survive on the Planet Earth, we must adopt a plant-based diet in this generation. Our future and the future of our children and grandchildren rests in the hands of the vegetarian activists today. No one can do it all, but we all can do something. We must get involved before it is too late.
Our review of Mad Cowboycan be found at http://vegparadise.com/vegreading7.html