This isn’t the first time animal-rights activist Howard Lyman has tried to scare Americans away from eating beef. He famously predicted back in 1996 that mad cow disease would “make AIDS look like the common cold.”

As with most dire activist messages, the reality is quite different. Mad cow disease has claimed a total of 132 lives since 1995 – far below some scaremongers’ earlier predictions of more than 200,000.

And the latest science from Great Britain suggests a long-term total of barely 540 human cases through the year 2080.

Every mad-cow death is a tragedy, but they are rare enough to justify only a tiny level of concern. More of us are killed each year by lightning bolts, bee stings, and dog bites.

But professional fear mongers like Lyman don’t care. His doom-and-gloom messages, like those of other anti-meat activists, are calculated to hit people at their most vulnerable moments. We should take these overblown warnings with a grain of salt.