Why This Texas Beef Ranch Transformed Into a Vegan Sanctuary

When Renee King-Sonnen’s husband Tommy asked her to look after a two-month-old calf named Rowdy Girl, he had hoped it would inspire her to become the “good” wife of a cattle breeder. cattle. Instead, it led the couple down a path of vegan activism, transforming the farm that had been in their family for generations into an animal rescue sanctuary.

King-Sonnen moved to Sonnen Ranch in 2009. Almost immediately, she “fell in love” with the cows. She gave them names and spoke and sang to them regularly. She started bottle-feeding Rowdy Girl in 2010, and caring for the calf helped her see the rest of the cows in a new light. But these cows were being raised to be sold for slaughter, and she began to feel “haunted” seeing them being transported in trailers.

Everything changed one day in 2014. She watched Dr. Melanie Joy’s video on carnism and saw for the first time a plate of meat depicting chopped up dead animals. “I became vegan that day,” she says. Plant News (PBN). “And that decision propelled me with great enthusiasm, passion and determination to convert our working cattle ranch into an agricultural sanctuary.”

Rowdy girl The ranch had been in Tommy’s family for generations

The transition

Tommy agreed to wind down the business and suggested selling the remaining cows and winding down operations. Renée, however, offered to buy the cows from him so that she could set up a sanctuary.

She then launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money, which was funded in May 2015. Four years later, they moved to a new location in Waelder, Texas, after the ranch was hit by three floods .

Today, the sanctuary is home to more than 130 farm animals, all of which were saved from slaughter. In addition to cows, they have chickens, horses, ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and a turkey named Sealy.

Renee King-Sonnen with horses at Rowdy Girl Vegan Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Texas
Rowdy girl The sanctuary is now home to a number of different animals

“My transition to an agricultural sanctuary was the passion of my soul, as I became vegan for the animals and became a force to be reckoned with with my husband,” she shares. PBN. “I was determined to stop cows from being slaughtered and find a way to create a nonprofit out of what was once a cattle ranch in Texas.”

Change your mentality

Her husband Tommy has since become vegan, but he found the transition “more difficult” than her partly due to being raised on animal agriculture.

She advises anyone considering making their farm animal-free to make sure they have the passion, as well as the financial means, to do so.

“Transitioning to a different lifestyle can be costly and intimidating without private funding or government support, which is sorely lacking in the United States,” she says. “That said, if a cattle farmer goes vegan for his animals, I think he will find a way, because once you see who you are killing, you will never again be able to participate in the slaughter of animals to earn your life.”

Rowdy Girl’s story was recently depicted in a film of the same name directed by Jason Goldman. It premiered at the Hot Docs Film Festival. For more information about the film and Renée’s work, please visit the Rowdy Girl website.

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