on January 27, 2002
This is an excellent book by a fourth-generation Montana cattle rancher turned vegetarian. Lyman writes about how he inherited his father's farm and destroyed it through chemical agricultural practices he learned in college. Right before undergoing surgery for a spinal tumor he remembered how fertile his soil used to be and how dead it now was. He determined then that he would restore the farm his father had given him. During recuperation he took a personal inventory and saw a selfish and callous man. And that inventory began his change toward compassion, vegetarianism and political activism.
The majority of the book covers the detrimental effects to the environment and our health in choosing a meat-based diet to include chemical farm management, antibiotics, bovine growth hormone, mad cow disease and related human diseases, loss of forest, top soil, desertification, global warming, loss of wildlife, water pollution, etc. You'll get a nice education of the kind of foods they feed cattle that we in turn ingest. The last chapter includes some sound dietary recommendations.
He writes: "It's humbling to think that, even after turning over the greater share of our public land to cattle ranchers, and in spite of the massive feedlot operations fouling our country, we Americans still need to import beef to satisfy our collective demand for heart attacks. In the process, we facilitate the chopping down of Central and South American rain forest, while leaving the populations of those countries impoverished."
This book is an excellent introduction to the horrendous negative impact beef production and consumption is having to our health and the health of our planet. It holds a permanent place in my library.
on March 27, 2002
while i was extemely anxious to read this book, i found out that in two chapters i was reading a dummies guide to environmentalism/vegetarianism. i have been vegetarian for many years and vegan for many as well. i picked this book up thinking it might have a little more insight on the gentleman writing the book. it did not. in fact i believe there were only two chapters devoted to why he did what he did. it seemed like more of an overview than an expose. the writing seemed a little sophmoric and generic. if you have ever read a book about becoming a vegetarian or vegan, then you have already read this book. i think what bothered me most, was that he devoted almost an entire chapter to "the zone diet." it felt a little preachy at the end and a little rushed. i guess it doesn't help that i don't appreciate oprah's work either.
on May 18, 2003
From a former real cowboy and rancher, you can take this book to the bank! For anyone who eats meat or drinks milk, this book will tell you why you shouldn't! It is indeed straight from the cattles mouth and udder, and why I paid attention and you should too!
Simply put, these highly human adulterated, drugged meats and pus-filled milk are unhealthy for humans directly and indirectly, because the cattle they come from are also very unhealthy to the enviroment. We really are competing with these trampling and fecal generating bovines for the control of the planet and our water supply! They are not an efficient food supply to rely on. Growing organic vegetables and grain multiplies the planet's efficiency for self-sustinence where cattle has the opposite effect.
The author mentions a vegetarian alternative, though I don't agree with all his recommendations, such as using Canola oil (olive oil is still the safest) and certain soy derivatives (which are fractured foods) they are still a much better alternative than eating anything from a cow from people who don't care what they feed it, or what they inject in it. Their whole mantra seems to be with milk or meat is, "just get rid of it" and repeat the process. I guess they even find what they are doing disgusting!
There is an interesting part on drinking milk with the unproven rBGH growth hormone milk. The real reason the drug company won't remove this guinea-pig type and useless drug is told in the book. It's borders on appalling considering milk is given mostly to growing children.
He also makes a interesting case about why we have gotten fatter on supposedly low-fat diets. The simple fact of the matter is, most of us have not really tried a low-fat diet such as McDougalls, Ornish or Pritkin, and most of us get EXCESS calories to begin with! This is common sense and he points it out to us.
It is interesting to note that the author (a life-long meat and diary eater) states he is the only healthy one of all his friends who never changed their meat diet and nearly all now have heart disease or cancer, of few of which have already died and that he is the only healthy survivor since switching to a meatless diet.
on June 23, 2004
Although I found some valuable information in this book, and some information I already knew, his verbage about such things as making animals into cannibals was a little extreme. With the problems with BSE, all blood products and ruminant products have been banned from the feed supply. While I advocate not feeding animal protein to any herbivorous animals, at least they are making headway into changing some things. Things such as jello, makeup, etc. are all animal products, so keep this in mind, also.
I have seen feedlots firsthand, as well as a slaughterhouse from start to finish. It has definitely changed my eating habits, but for America to stop eating meat, ALL of the citizens have to come to a realization as to the origin of their meat. Save for a few organizations who publicize this type of info don't look for widespread veganism to come to fruition anytime soon.
And for the poster about eating animals prepared Kosher, this is even more cruel, as the animals are totally conscious when their throats are cut. At least the current slaughter industry renders them unconscious before killing them.
Kosher is not equal to a higher quality of meat. Temple Grandin has done major work to change slaughter practices, and some of the worst and most cruel slaughterhouses she visited were Kosher ones. Keep this in mind the next time you tout the superiority of Kosher.
on May 18, 2003
From a former real cowboy and rancher you can take this book to the bank! For anyone who eats meat or drinks milk, this book will tell you why you shouldn't! It is indeed straight from the cattles mouth and udder and why I paid attention and you should too!
Simply put, these highly human adulterated, drugged meats, and pus-filled milk are unhealthy for humans directly and indirectly, because the cattle they come from are also very unhealthy to both you and the enviroment! We really are competing with these trampling bovines for the control of the planet and our water supply! They are not an efficient food supply to rely on. Growing organic vegetables and grain multiplies the planet's efficiency for self-sustinence where cattle has the opposite effect!
The author mentions a vegetarian alternative, though I don't agree with all his recommendations, such as using Canola oil (olive oil is still the safest), and certain soy derivatives (which are fractured foods) they are still a much better alternative than eating drug and grain-laced beef with their omega-6 altering fats and the unproven rBGH growth hormone milk. The real reason the drug companies won't remove this guinea-pig drug is also told in the book. It's all a sad tale about -- money!
He also makes a interesting case about why we have gotten fatter on supposedly low-fat diets. The simple fact of the matter is, according to the author is that most of us have not really tried the low-fat diets of McDougalls, Ornish, or Pritkin, and most of us get EXCESS calories to begin with! This is common sense and he points it out to us.
It is interesting to note that the author (a life-long meat and diary eater) states he is the only healthy one of all his friends who never changed their meat\dairy diets and now nearly all have heart disease or cancer, a few of which have already died and that he is the only healthy one since switching to a meatless diet.
on April 23, 2003
First I want to say this is a great book, I quote from it all the time and use it to explain my choice to be vegetarian. However I was very taken back by Mr. Lyman's passage on diabetes, it is blatantly wrong. He writes that a reduction in meat would do more for diabetics than insulin pumps and shots.... this is untrue for type 1 diabetics (juvenile onset diabetes) and they do not in fact produce insulin...Diet will have a positive effect on overall health but will in no way reduce a type 1 diabetics need for insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your body destroys your islet cells (through no fault of your own and not due to dietary habits) and therefore you produce no insulin and must always be dependant on an outside source (i.e. shots or an insulin pump) for the rest of your life, there is no cure! The comments in this book reflect facts true only for type 2 diabetics and it is essential that differences in these diseases be noted as misconceptions can have a negative impact on public perception of this disease and therefore impact research for a cure. These comments unfortunately made me question a lot of Mr. Lyman's facts and I seriously questioned even reading past the page these errors occured on, because if he was so blatantly misrepresentative about diabetes, what other facts has he misrepresented.
on July 11, 2002
Howard Lyman's book is a wake-up call to anyone that eats meat. I titled this review view "rude awakening", because his insight smacked my conscience into action. My choice to stop eating meat after reading this book was not based on a moral obligation to the animals or the planet, regrettably, as it was on the health effects.
I thought I knew all the dangers of meat until, I learned what cows eat. Perhaps it is my biology background that scares me about the possibilities of unknown disease caused by gurgitating meat that was exposed to other organisms in its feed. The possibility of this epidemic becoming a silent killer like aids was the scariest part of his work.
Howard truly opened my eyes when he went over the ecological damage caused by raising cattle. It is very disheartening to think that a resource as precious as water may be allocated to cattle needs over human needs. If his information on cows grazing habits making an area susceptible to flooding true, then the July 2002 floods in Texas take on new meaning.
This is a book that should be required reading for all Peace Corps personnel who are going to be assigned in countries that are destroying the Rain Forest to make land for beef. Perhaps the most disturbing reality is meat is viewed as a rich person's food in these countries and the demand for it by richer countries may make these people desire to eat meat thus adversely affecting their health and increasing the need for land to produce more cattle.
This book is not very long, but was a slow read for me because I became totally engrossed in an ex-cattleman's perspective on meat and the environment. I think this book should become required reading in high school science curriculum.
on March 30, 2002
I wish I had read "Mad Cowboy" before writing "The Skinny on Weight Loss: One Woman's True Journey to Fat and Back." Despite the fact that all of my grandfathers/great grandfathers were cattlemen, or associated with the industry, as blacksmith, butcher, rancher and gentleman farmer, I was afraid that they would turn over in their graves if one of their descendents came out in favor of vegetarianism. Now, having read "Mad Cowboy," I find here one of their modern day brethern, able to comprehend and explain the need for dietary change clearly and without equivocation.
"Mad Cowboy" made me inclined to become a total vegan myself. In "The Skinny" I euphemistically refer to a dietary emphasis on vegetables, which I encourage, as "eating primarily foods of plant origin" so as not to stir up knee jerk reactions of outrage at the very idea of avoiding meat altogether or using the "v" word. But now I know that vegetarianism is the best course, given the science and environmental considerations so clearly described by Mr. Lyman. His background and expertise are unassailable. Thirty years ago someone told me the figures on the amount of grain it takes to make a pound of beef, but it just didn't sink in, until I read "Mad Cowboy". Lyman makes a clear and compelling argument for a dietary revolution.
When Mr. Lyman appeared on "Politically Incorrect" last week, that insufferable Tom Green repeatedly interrupted him, just as he was getting around to telling us why simply cutting back on meat was not good enough. I had to immediately go out and get his book just to see if I could find out what it was he was about to say before being so rudely interrupted. I'm glad I did because I feel like I just discovered the Bible.
"Mad Cowboy", and the best selling "Fast Food Nation," by Eric Schlosser, are wake up calls for world level economic reorganization and a world class committment to environmental protection, if our human descendents are at all able to inhabit the earth. "Silent Spring," which is one of Lyman's sources, could conceivably come to apply to humans as well as insects.
on January 3, 2002
Part autobiography, part muckraking against the bane of chemical agribusiness, part avowal of vegetarianism, Howard T. Lyman's "Mad Cowboy" will provoke laughter, outrage and, perhaps, widescale personal and social change. His writing describes his metamorphosis from failed family farmer to outraged advocate against the very chemical companies which beguiled him to lamentably modify his family's organic farming techniques to large-scale feedlot methods of raising cattle. We also watch his evolution from a three-hundred pound, ciagarette-addicted, beef-boy to a passionate advocacy of vegetarianism, not merely as a diet, but as a prescription for a healthy world.
Despite the title's allusion to anger or insanity, Lyman's book is colored by sadness; it is a lament to the damage done to our bodies, our economy, our geopolitical relationships with other nations and our very earth itself due to our unhealthy reliance on flesh as food and the gross warping of agriculture to satisfying cattle's appetite for grain instead of humanity's needs for nutritious, non-meat based foods.
"Mad Cowboy" is at its best when Lyman interweaves his personal story into the fabric of his condemnation of chemical factory farming. Hard-working and self-effacing, Lyman makes a pivotal decision after graduating from Montana State. Armed with a battery of "modern" farming techniques -- all of which are chemically dependent -- Lyman abandoned his family's traditional organic methodologies or an agribusiness reliance on size and pharmaceuticals. Ultimately, his chemically-engineered cattle become grostesque consumers of flesh themselves; his once fertile farmland soil thins into degraded desert. This depressing saga symbolizes Lyman's ironic alienation from the very source of his farm, the earth itself.
The muckraking aspects of "Mad Cowboy" are striking enough to sicken even the heartiest meat eater. With piston-like efficiency, Lyman's paragraphs paint a searing indictment of the large-scale cattle industry. These feedlot factories produce chemically-altered cattle, fed grains and animal proteins to artifically stimulate growth. The cattle, in turn, befoul rivers, trample ecosystems and are black holes for grains which could better serve human needs. Lyman not only criticizes the staggering economic inefficiencies of converting one food form (grain) into another (hamburger); he warns of the moral implications this could have in exacerbating world hunger.
His solution is a conversion to a vegetarian way of life. Though convincing and undoubtedly sincere, Lyman tends to repetitious pronouncements in his concluding chapters. This is but a small criticism of his work. "Mad Cowboy," disturbing and shocking, will be one of those polemics that will remain in the reader's consciousness long after finishing the final page. His prophetic voice -- exposing wrong and offering just solutions -- is mean to upset, educate and radicalize. In this sense, Howard Lyman's "Mad Cowboy" is an unequivocal success.
on July 30, 2001
I read this book cover to cover. I then had my wife and children read it aloud chapter by chapter at the dinner table. This book is required reading to those of us going through life, unaware of what enters our food chain. My family buys only Kosher Organinc free roaming chickens that are fed only organic food with no animal byproducts and no genetically engineered feed. Despite this, we were so shocked by what we learned in this book that we took it upon ourselves to investigate anew our butcher, his wholesaler, the farm where the poultry were raised, the lineage of the poultry, and everything to do with what they ate from the day they were born to the day they showed up in our freezer. The book tells the inside story of the cattle industry. In it one discovers the business of rendering where until 1997, all dead and diseased cattle, chickens, dogs, cats, pigs and horses were sold to renderers that ground up the dead animals and converted them into 2 general product categories. One line of goods became perfumes, toiletries, etc. The second line of goods became a substance that was put into the feed of the livestock in this country whose flesh we eat and whose milk we drink. This same practice in England was responsible for the multi-year epidemic of Mad Cow Disease. Since 1997, the FDA has banned the feeding of ruminants to ruminants. Therefore cows may no longer eat dead cows. However thay can still eat dead dogs, cats, horses, and pigs. Remember this the next time you hear that your friend or neighbor had their pet put to sleep. That pet may end up being lunch for some animal in your food chain. This is must read material for anyone curious enough to know where the likely source of many of our diseases come from. The book is equally strong in its second half when dealing with free ranging cattle and their devastating effects on our environment and our future. Let the book speak for itself. I believe that after reading it you may just agree with me that we owe a great thank you to the courage and integrity of Howard Lyman and Oprah Winfrey.