Ever wonder what it would be like to meet your hero? Howard Lyman is a
cattle-rancher turned vegan activist, author and documentary film
star. Writer Sacha Vais talks about the man and the documentary that
is touching hearts and minds around the world.
By Sacha Vais, editor of IrkedMagazine.com
The first time I met Howard Lyman, I'm pretty sure I developed a
little crush on him. He was the first bona fide "rambler" I'd ever met
(he's traveled about a million miles in the last decade), and his life
seemed so exhilarating to me. I wanted to be him, yet at the same time
I wished The Mad Cowboy would take me with him wherever he was going
One of the most amazing (and unique) things about Howard is that he's
not lying when he claims to hate the sins but never the sinners.
Unlike so many activists, he's both a truth-teller and a people-lover.
A documentary has been released about Howard's life (written and
directed by Michael Tobias and produced by Patrick Fitzgerald) and
it's phenomenal. It's based on his best-selling book, and it's called
Mad Cowboy: The Documentary. They filmed it over three years, and
edited it down from 150 hours of footage. Like his books and his
lectures, the documentary shows how Howard changed his positions on
agribusiness and personal diet, how he went from being a
fourth-generation multimillionaire cattle rancher to a committed vegan
Like most animal rights documentaries, Mad Cowboy has its share of
horrifying, and rather gory, slaughterhouse footage. It even has some
tug-on-your-heartstrings, bleeding-heart liberal anthropomorphizing.
At one point Howard looks into a cow's eyes and, while scratching her
behind her ear, says, "When you go to heaven, you tell your friends up
there that I'm doing what I can for ya, ok?" But the film is more than
that. It's a funny, sincere, comforting, informative and compassionate
film. And it's a joy to watch. Howard comes across as a warm and
gentle man, and that's exactly how he is in person.
If you ever get the chance to meet Howard, do. Spend as much time with
him as you can, and listen at least twice as much as you speak. Ask
him if there are any moral imperatives. And ask him what his wife's
advice was when he called her from Oprah Winfrey's greenroom. And ask
him about the ten friends in Montana with whom he used to play cards,
and about when he ran for Congress and almost won, and about the time
he ordered a 72oz carrot in a world-famous steakhouse in Amarillo,
Texas. Ask him if he's responsible for Lisa Simpson becoming a
vegetarian. Ask him why he named his cat Ceasar, or about his
relationship with his mother-in-law, or if he knows any good "mad cow"
And then open your ears wide, and listen.
But in the meantime, until you are fortunate enough to meet the
maddest cowboy of them all in the flesh, order his film. And watch it.
And share it. And live it.
Mad Cowboy: The Documentary continues to be screened all over the
world, and Howard continues to travel with it, speaking to anyone who
will listen about sustaining the planet. To organize a screening, or
to purchase a copy of the film visit www.madcowboy.com.