a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey
Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition
by Howard Lyman
New York: Simon & Schuster
223 pages, $23.95 Plus shipping, hardcover.
A Review by Gerry Coffey:
Howard Lyman is a walkin,' talkin' Marlboro Man.
Minus a cigarette.
And a horse.
Oh, and he no longer has 7,000 head of cattle. He traded them for (his love of) people. And, since he and TV Talk Show Mogul Oprah Winfrey won the "Veggie Libel" suit a few months ago, Lyman's "ropin' in" safe-food advocates by the millions--viaTalk Shows and lecture dates all over the country.
The Texas cattlemen's lawsuit was precipitated by Lyman's remarks to Oprah's 20 million viewers that "Mad Cow Disease" could make AIDS look like child's play if the American meat industry continued turning cows into cannibals.
The subsequent trial and judge's "gag rule" tied up more than a year-and-a-half of Lyman's life. It prohibited speaking out, limited travel, and severely crippled his duties as president and spokesperson for the International Vegetarian Union. It also put him in debt for over a million dollars!
"If they had won," notes Lyman, "it would have jeopardized every American's Constitutional Right to Free Speech." Since vindication, Lyman's been making up for lost time in places as far flung as Alabama, California, Illinois, Minnesota and Canada. At last check, he had just caught a 2:45 a.m. "Red-Eye" to give the keynote address at the Toronto Vegetarian Festival.
But hop-scotching across the country, sleeping in a different bed almost every night for the past ten years, and accepting food wherever it's offered ("As long as it contains no animal or dairy.".), took its toll on the weather-worn former cowboy who recently celebrated his 60th birthday.
Doctors told Lyman the foot that was stomped on by a panicky steer some 20 years ago needed attention if he wanted to save it. The dreaded surgery took place over the Christmas holidays and required 6 weeks convalescence. This prohibited Lyman giving the key-note address at the 33rd WORLD VEGETARIAN CONGRESS in Thailand, January 4, 1999, but now he's literally on his feet again and raring to go.
Good thing! There are now 5 more lawsuits being brought against him. Texas cattlemen have long memories and DEEP pockets!
For those unable to see Lyman in the flesh, his recently released book "Mad Cowboy" is the next best thing to being there. It captures his unique rapid-fire and laconic delivery, laced with wit, eye-opening facts and optimism: "Them that's got the 'gold' make all the rules, but it doesn't have to be that way," Lyman advises grassroots supporters. "You people HAVE the power if you'll learn how to use it."
Lyman's rude awakening came when his brother died of dioxin poisoning at age 29, and Lyman himself faced a bout with life-threatening cancer. A death-bed promise between himself and his God caused him to re-prioritize his life's values.
"I thought I was the Donald Trump of Agri-business when I wrote my first check for a million dollars and it didn't bounce," mocks Lyman about his former life. It's a far-cry from the one he leads today urging the masses to take action on the desperate need to nurture human, animal and environmental life rather than destroy it.
Lyman's business and organizational acumen speaks for itself:
· Representative for Small Farmers
· Congressional Lobbyist (During which time he helped pass the still controversial National Organic Standards Act)
· Spokesperson for the U.S. Humane Society
· Founder/Director: Voice For A Viable Future.
"Mad Cowboy," co-written with author/playwright Glen Merzer ("Glen earned every penny!" notes Lyman. "He followed me night and day for 6 months!"), traces Lyman from a no-nonsense childhood that introduced him to the milking barn at age 4, to his rise to cattle baron and large feedlot operator. It reveals the early experiences that forged the thinking and convictions that make Lyman the powerful force he is today. It also provides eye-opening facts about the sorry state of the world's food supply and environment, along with a blueprint for change.
Praise for Lyman's book is lavish:
"I can honestly say that there is not a man on this planet I
respect more than Howard Lyman. I cannot speak highly enough of the man, his work, or his
book. Mad Cowboy is his story, and it is truly one of the most important ones of this
century. Buy ten copies; give them to people you love. This is the real thing."
--John Robbins, Founder of EarthSave, and author of the Pulitzer Prize Nominated book: "Diet For A New America.
Note: Lyman makes about 50 cents off each copy sold. Not an easy way to pay off a million dollar debt, but he's happy to do it one book at a time.
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