Howard Lyman – The Lawsuit about Food Libel


In several societies, there has been disagreement, which has brought the debate about the ethics of animal eating. These moral remonstrations are divided between antagonism to the act of killing the animal and resistance to certain agricultural practices that surrounds the production of meat (Goodman, 2007).

Vegan’s ethics

Vegans are sensitive to issues of suffering; they, therefore, shun either actions that impose pain on sensate, animal life and human beings intentionally or thoughtfully (Goodman, 2007). They also value the uniqueness of all forms of life they, therefore, seek to avoid wanton destruction of plant life and exploitation of the physical environment in a way that will put in danger the local or global ecosystem. These people do not like violence they, therefore, like dealing with physical and social challenges in a way that is thoughtful, gentle, compassionate, and considerate and just. They expand the principle of harmlessness where they strive for active beneficence, performing acts of kindness or charity (Goodman, 2007). They, therefore, demonstrate the obligation of their code of ethics by choosing food that is exclusively plant-based, holding economic and moral support from enterprises that exploit animals and humans, take care when choosing those things that do not destroy the lives of living animals. They also rebuff the use of living creatures as facilitators for teaching, scientific inquiry or leisure. The basis following the act of denying animals’ existence and their eating is that animals have their rights, environmental practices and the other one is for religious reasons (Zimmerman, 2010). People who are not vegetarians refuse to consume the meat of certain animals because of taboo, others have supported the act of flesh consumption because of scientific, nutritional and cultural reasons.

There have been some arguments that people should choose an alternative means of survival rather than causing unnecessary lives of innocent animals. In a principled manner, vegans say that the same reasons subsist against killing animals to eat as the same way killing human beings for consumption (Sherry, 2009).

Food disparagement law

Food disparagement laws, which are heedlessly identified as veggie libel laws were laws, were approved by the United States and this paves way for food producers to litigate their critics for libel (Sherry, 2009). This law involved thirteen states in the United States. Many of the food disparagement laws begin a lower typical for civil millstone and give room for disciplinary damages and attorney’s fees for the plaintiff alone no matter the case outcome.

In the year 1998, there was a lawsuit that surrounded television talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey and one of her guests Howard Lyman where they were prosecuted in a lawsuit that bordered the Texas description of a food libel law known as the food disparagement of consumable food products act of 1996 (Zimmerman, 2010). Both made a disparaging about beef relating the episode with a mad cow scare. These laws are diverse from one state to another and the law permits food manufacturers or a processor to take legal action against any person or an organization that makes a disparaging remark about their food products (Isern & Kevin, 2000).

When is communication no longer cosseted by the first amendment: A plaintiff’s outlook of agricultural disparagement laws?

In the United States libel court the plaintiff must make clear proof that the defendant is deliberately and aware that he is spreading false information. It is under the Texas food disparagement law that wins Frey and visitors found themselves behind the bar where the plaintiffs said that Lyman’s statements in Oprah’s show were not based on reasonable and reliable scientific inquiry facts or data (Zimmerman, 2010). The damages, which were sought in the lawsuit, said that there was a noted drop in cattle prices and the future of cattle dropped by 10 percent (Lyman, 2000).

Ethics that Howard Lyman lives by

Lyman changed his life after having an illness that nearly killed him. Howard uses normative ethics whereby he knows how he is supposed to live. He finds out the things that have moral properties that provide him a framework for ethics. He said that family farmers are fatalities of public policy that gives predilection to feeding animals overfeeding people (Isern & Kevin, 2000). From his ethics about eating, he said that running a ranch gives a farmer a good sum of cash but there is something that farmers fail to speak out about the industry (Sherry, 2009). He continues to say that a vegan is not just a strict vegetarian diet but it is a complete philosophical viewpoint. The application is practical in its outlook, simple to be understood and it is of high motivation to environmental and devout values.

Every human being thinks about how to live a good life and how to make the right sort of decisions and the conditions that lead one to live a good life. An ethical theory provides criteria that evaluate an action such as those actions that were taken by Howard that will enable people to reduce their illness (Driver, 2006).

In his argument Driver (2006) uses the ethical theory of utilitarianism where he holds the right actions of not consuming animal meat as the right actions, which maximize good. This theory that Howard uses tells the viewers why wrong is wrong and justifies his judgment that it’s not the correct thing because it results in pain rather than pleasure.

Was it ethical to sue Oprah and Howard?

It was not ethical for the manufacturers suing Oprah and Howard because their appearance in the show was to give the public awareness about the danger of the mad cow disease, which was rampantly spreading, in the country. He was also giving an experience about a meat-loving cowboy to an environmental vegetarian activist where he gives the whole truth about the catastrophic consequences of an animal-based diet.

New Patriot Act- Animal enterprise Terrorist Act

This law is principled in a manner that it deliberately develops semantic elusiveness in order to include virtually every figure of complaint and expression against exploitative industries (Weston, 2007). Terrorism has now been extended and it now embraces acts that hamper and support interference with the function of an animal enterprise. These enterprises frequently use animal or animal products (Lyman, 2005).

This terrorism law is ethical in a way that it creates disciplinary for those disrupting or causing economic dent to a group or individuals (Driver, 2006). The intention of the law is to prosecute and convict individuals who commit animal enterprise terrorism. This law is however different and it tends to portray a distinct picture because it serves the greater business interests of animal enterprises (Weston, 2007).


  1. Driver, J. (2006). Ethics: the fundamentals. London. Wiley-Blackwell
  2. Goodman, R. (2007). Law in public health practice. Oxford, Oxford University Press US.
  3. Isern & Kevin A. (2000, Jan). When is speech no longer protected by the first amendment: A plaintiff’s perspective of agricultural disparagement laws? Heinonlines law journal. 23(2), 21-29. Chicago. Mc-Graw Hills
  4. Lyman, H. (2000). Animal enterprise ACT. Youtube. Web.
  5. Lyman, H. (2005). Talk – Howard Lyman – Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat. Youtube. Web.
  6. Sherry, C. (2009). Animal rights: a reference handbook. Texas, ABC-CLIO.
  7. Weston, A. (2007). Creative problem-solving in ethics. Oxford. Oxford University Press
  8. Zimmerman, J. (2010). Congress: Facilitator of State Action. New York, SUNY Press.

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LawBirdie. 2023. "Howard Lyman – The Lawsuit about Food Libel." March 23, 2023.

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LawBirdie. "Howard Lyman – The Lawsuit about Food Libel." March 23, 2023.