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Famed vegan cowboy now lives in Ellensburg

Vegan Joe

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Beef: It's not what's for dinner.


At least not for Ellensburg resident Howard Lyman, aka "The Mad Cowboy."


Lyman, 70, is a fourth-generation Montana cattle-rancher-turned-hardcore-vegan whose approach to activism - and food - is strictly no nonsense.


"I don't eat anything that has a face, liver, or mother," Lyman said.


Decades before cult foodie books "Fast Food Nation" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" topped best-seller lists, or this summer's shock documentary "Food, Inc." hit theaters, Lyman was speaking what he calls "the straight facts." The message was this: Corporate greed is killing American agriculture, and we're digging more graves with our forks than any other tool.


You may remember him for scandalizing "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1996. He told Winfrey that mad cow disease in humans could make AIDS look like the common cold if we didn't stop grinding up sick downer cattle, roadkill and euthanized pets to feed to cows meant for human consumption.


Winfrey's response to Lyman's claim: "It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger."


The talk show queen swearing off America's barbecue favorite outraged several Texas cattlemen, who sued Winfrey and Lyman for $180 million in what the media sensationalized as the "Veggie Libel" case. The charges? "False defamation of perishable food" and "business disparagement."


Yet even in a courtroom in Amarillo, Texas, smack in the heart of cattle country, Winfrey and Lyman were found "not guilty" under the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech several years later.


Court researchers proved Lyman's claims were true.


"They spent well over a million dollars to try and convict ...

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