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Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat
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Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,607 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Told by the man who kicked off the infamous lawsuit between Oprah and the cattlemen, Mad Cowboy is an impassioned account of the highly dangerous practices of the cattle and dairy industries.

Howard Lyman's testimony on The Oprah Winfrey Show revealed the deadly impact of the livestock industry on our well-being. It not only led to Oprah's declaration that she'd never eat a
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 2nd 2001 by Scribner (first published June 3rd 1998)
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Jul 14, 2008 Deanna rated it it was amazing
Oh my. This book has been in our house for a couple years. My husband read half of it. His sister is now a vegan and his mom a vegetarian. I have been meaning to read the book but wasn't sure where it was. But last night while looking for another book, I found it. I have been one of those "kinda" vegetarians who occasionally eats chicken or fish. (Same for the rest of the family) Well, after reading just through chapter 2, I am changed. Now I have read through a few more chapters, and for some r ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Until last week, I think I was one of the few remaining vegans in North America who hasn't read “Mad Cowboy”. Lyman and Merzer's book provides an interesting take on the reasons for being vegan, and may be one of the most compelling books on the topic ever written. If you have never read anything about the health and environmental costs of eating meat, this would be a great place to start. If you are already a vegan, or have read lots of books about the reasons for veganism, you might not find m ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 28, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who ever wanted to make a change in their lives, those who love animals
I really admire people who make huge changes in their lives, and Howard Lyman is one of them. He's an ex-multi-generational cattle rancher who became vegan after developing medical problems. He's since made it his mission to talk and write about the cattle & dairy industry, as well as the benefits, to both people and animals, of going vegan = giving up animal product foods. He gives the reader a lot of information with which to make their decisions about whether to consume animal products.
Oct 28, 2009 Dee rated it it was amazing
I stopped eating meat when, one morning in 1979 I woke up to the aroma of bacon being cooked. In that instant I realized I couldn't eat meat anymore. I don't know what happened. It still smelled good, I just had no desire to eat it. I still ate fish and foul, although I really wanted to be vegetarian, I just wanted it to be as "organic" (if that's what it was for me) as my relationship to meat. In the summer of 2000 I spent a week's vacation with my vegan daughter and decided to not eat fish or ...more
Apr 20, 2008 Lindsay rated it liked it
The best way to describe this book is a that it is "Skinny Bitch" for men, with the added bonus of the rancher perspective. Lyman, who was once a rancher in Montana, tells his story of growing up as a dairy farmer, dealing with bovine growth hormones, mad cow disease, and all of the challenges of surviving as "cowboy" in the modern dairy industry. He comes to the realization that the farming practices that he has adopted are ruining the soil, parching his land, and is morally questionable in the ...more
Mar 24, 2008 Jarrod rated it liked it
Be prepared to love tofu. This former rancher explains what goes on in the beef industry and exposes the risks of eating beef, not only to consumers, but also to the earth. It took me 6 months after reading this book to feel okay about eating a hamburger again. And now that I think about it, I don't want another one.

The author does rant at times, and seems to have an axe to grind with various diet fads (such as Barry Sears' ZONE diet)for which I subtracted 2 stars.
Oct 25, 2007 James rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book was an eye opener, strangely because I approached it knowing alot about the issues Lyman discusses. It became apparent within just a few pages that, as we often discover about this "great country" things are alot worse then I imagined. I knew what a renderer was, but had no idea how diverse its processing contents really were. I knew about Mad Cow disease but not how much the real threat of it has been covered up by the same people that were too cowardly to do anything about it. I knew ...more
Aug 10, 2007 Erinn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vegetarianism
Another book I went out an bought after seeing the author on Oprah. Remember when Oprah was sued by the meat industry for saying that she would never eat another burger? Yeah, that was this guy, the cattle rancher who wouldn't eat meat. A fabulous book, not only about the evils of the meat industry, but about self discovery and making a change in yourself and then helping others to change too. The author goes through a huge life change in the book. Does he want to continue to raise his cattle in ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Shel rated it it was amazing
Written in 1998, this book has a chapter on cows as a cause of drought that's as informative as the documentary "Cowspiracy (2014)," a chapter on pesticide use as cautionary as Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" (1962), and a chapter on health similar to Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "Eat for Health (2008)."

What's unique here is the perspective of a Montana cattle rancher, the touches of memoir and his personable down home language as he tells the story of turning from chemical to organic farming and from a h
Megan Jones
Feb 15, 2013 Megan Jones rated it it was amazing
Although not a work of literary genius, I think the author did an outstanding job making his claim for a plant-based diet - something the entire world needs to realize and embrace if we care about saving the planet for future generations. I absolutely love how this isn't an animal rights book in the least but more of a calling to save the earth and save ourselves, our health - a unique perspective as compared to most vegetarian/vegan reads. He also took time to address common misconceptions abou ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Rae rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-issues
I just disagreed with a lot of this man's philosophies. I learned some things, though, and it was worth reading. I'm glad he found a lifestyle (vegan) that works for him. He just seemed too extreme to me. Like he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder...

I still like my meat. I just make sure it's grass-fed with no hormones or antibiotics. He wrote as though there were no alternatives to factory meat at all. And, quite frankly, some of his medical information and stats just don't jive with other thi
Aug 14, 2016 Josepha rated it it was ok
I was utterly disappointed in this book but I guess it could be useful to persuade people who don't give a hoot about animals to become vegan (or vegetarian). Lyman wrote this book only from a human-centrist view; focusing on health and the environment. He advocates the HCLF thingy that is very popular right now.

He writes passionately about the damage to our health done by animal products like heart disease, osteoporosis etc. And the destruction of the environment by animal agriculture leading
Jul 06, 2013 Dee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was going to give this book four stars because it tends to bog down in places, but the message is so powerful I went ahead and gave it the full five stars. I'll let the following quote speak for itself:
"I knew that while a billion people went to sleep hungry, the overfed part of the world was busy feeding sixteen pounds of grain to cattle in order to make one pound of beef. I'd seen countless friends suffer from heart attacks or require heart surgery. I'd seen the cancer rate in America increa
Mar 28, 2011 Cindi rated it really liked it
This is a five star book for the great information and for the perspective of an ex-rancher gone vegan. I had to dock it a star for the diet information at the back of the book. Skip that and instead read Eat to Live or a couple of books by Andrew Weil.

I really think all people should read this and learn what goes on in the production of their hamburgers. I also think people ought to know what raising cattle is doing to the earth. And, to those of you who think the solution is to drink only org
Jul 07, 2011 Morna rated it liked it
Shelves: animal-rights, food
I was initially very put off by his Golly Ma'am, I'm Just a Dumb Ole Cowboy approach, but he kind of grew on me; also, he got less folksy once he got into the meat of the book (sorry, couldn't resist the stupid pun). The book is dated, but it's still a good read, with important information. It helps that it is a quick read. If you are interested in the subject matter - veganism, our food supply, factory farms, the impact of meat eating on individual health and the world environment - then it's w ...more
Mar 31, 2008 Clare rated it it was ok
I felt that this book, while eye-opening for someone who might not know about the meat industry, and rather humorous for the rest of us, totally disregarded some of the other omnivorous options humans have. His argument for veganism was close-minded and naive. He failed to take a good look at what grass-fed cattle can do for the environment, and barely grazed over what 100% veganism would do to the economy. We would wipe out all of the huge factory farms (at least those that control the meat we ...more
Linda Petersen
May 24, 2011 Linda Petersen rated it really liked it
Mr. Lyman was involved in the Oprah, "I'll never eat another hamburger" lawsuit. Also, just so you know, Mr. Lyman pulls no punches in the first chapter. No dipping the toe in to test the waters. Nope. He throws you in head-first. Caveat: first chapter on an empty stomach (there should be an advisory to that effect, Mr. Lyman!)

I also found it interesting that when he went to his bank and tried to get a loan in order to farm in such a way as to make reparations to the land damaged by his factory
Jul 10, 2016 Sheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great read! I love this guy. He is witty and his first-person knowledge about cattle ranching and the elements of it that drove him to become a vegan are shocking and highly entertaining. This book surprised me by how good a read it was. Great stuff, Mr. Lyman. Anyone - even a rabid meat eater - could enjoy his writing and stories.
Mar 14, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
One of the best AR books ever written.
Susan Miller
Oct 11, 2016 Susan Miller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health-fitness
Mad Cowboy will hold your attention from the first chapter to the last. If you can read the first two chapters and not wish to change your eating habits, then you are a "better man than I am Gunga Din". If you read though the last chapter you will not only wish to change yourself, but the world.

"When you can't take it with you, all that really matters is what you leave behind" - Mad Cowboy page 189.
Oct 07, 2016 Bethanne is currently reading it
Aug 19, 2012 Kimmay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mad cowboy certainly sends a clear message, the farm industry is severely messed up. After reading this book I felt deeply saddened that things have gotten so political and so inhumane.
I truly feel if the average person knew the horrible things that were happening they would change what they buy and how they eat as well as what they eat.
This book touches on the horrible treatment of the animals but really it is more about the horrible treatment of people. What exactly is in the food that we a
Taran Hewitt
Apr 28, 2016 Taran Hewitt rated it it was amazing
Many's the time I've considered the idea of going vegetarian and now, after reading this fascinating book, I think I've found the incentive to take the plunge. Howard Lyman is the first person I have read who knows intimately both sides of the vegetarian fence. An ex-cattle farmer, he went from being a conscientious old-fashioned fourth-generation dairyman with a belief in crop-rotation, open pasture feeding and honest animal husbandry to a high-tech animal abuser using every chemical that came ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it
I had been eating a vegan diet for a few months before I finally got my hands on Mr. Lyman's excellent book. I had seen him interviewed in "Forks Over Knives" and found his approach and background fascinating, and I was eager to hear more from his perspective as an ex-cattle-farmer-turned-vegan.

His book is refreshingly down-to-earth, boiling his arguments for a vegan diet down to very simple and straight-forward points. He starts with the quietly obscure link between government, big business, a
Mar 13, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing

I found this book on the bargain table of a local bookstore years ago. I have to admit that I was a vegetarian before I read it but if I hadn't been I would have afterwards.

Lyman doesn't try to scare you or preach but he smacks you about the head with facts as though they were hammer blows. If you have any concern for your own health, the health of your family or the health of the planet and you have to date not read this book it is an absolute must.

Not only an exceptionally compelling read bu
Mar 23, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing! I can't believe that many of the facts backed by scientific studies are swept under the rug by the livestock industry! This book is very factual and graphic at times, but provides a persuasive report of the benefits of veganism, and how it is good for the earth, and man kind. I had no IDEA that consumption of animal products is continuously linked to chronic illness, and that there are SO MANY chemicals in our foods. We ban chemicals, but let them be used for a year after ...more
Oct 13, 2008 Coen rated it it was amazing
Mad Cowboy... what I have learned from you! This is one of the very first books I read about the food industry. Before Food, Inc., SuperSize Me, Fast Food Nation. This is way before that. Howard Lymann is amazing. He has opened my eyes to what is really going on. It's kind of really mind blowing, to be honest. Before this book, I had no idea these things were going on. I trusted the government. I would have never believed anything in this book. How could it be? How is it possible? It still blows ...more
Ben Striz
Jan 02, 2016 Ben Striz rated it it was amazing
When I first turned vegan, I didn't have any real examples. I didn't know anyone who was vegan, but I had a rabid appetite for learning everything I could about it. I don't remember how I stumbled upon The Mad Cowboy so early on, but I'm glad I did. Lyman gives not only his personal journey from absolute disregard for animal life and individuality, but also a fair amount of information about farming process and the necessity (or lack there of) of raising, killing, and eating animals. For me, beg ...more
William Lawrence
Jun 28, 2012 William Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health, animals
This is a great true story of a brave American hero. Howard Lyman brings up a great point when he is expresses his amazement at some politicians trying to change the Constitution to try and solve the debt problem, yet they completely ignore a much greater crisis: "wrong though it may be to burden our progeny with debt, I guarantee you that our descendants would rather contend with some inherited fiscal debt than dead rivers and oceans, spreading deserts, unproductive soil, depleted energy reserv ...more
Bobby R. Childree
Funny, Serious, Life saving

After having read this book three times I still can't decide what I like most about it. The information is presented in a surprisingly interesting way, for one thing, but I think the quality of the information is exceptional also. Many people say similar things, but few say them so well, perhaps. Then, too, the human element of his own personal story really held my attention, from his childhood antics to the deepest stupidity of his adult years, and from his determinat
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“How to Tell the Truth and Get in Trouble I am a fourth-generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher. I grew up on a dairy farm in Montana, and I ran a feedlot operation there for twenty years. I know firsthand how cattle are raised and how meat is produced in this country. Today I am president of the International Vegetarian Union. Sure, I used to enjoy my steaks as much as the next guy. But if you knew what I know about what goes into them and what they can do to you, you’d probably be a vegetarian like me. And, believe it or not, as a pure vegetarian now who consumes no animal products at all, I can tell you that these days I enjoy eating more than ever. If you’re a meat-eater in America, you have a right to know that you have something in common with most of the cows you’ve eaten. They’ve eaten meat, too.” 0 likes
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