"Mad Cowboy Documentary"
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

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 next.


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 activist.

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" jokes.

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