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CBS News Story

CBS News Story

Cattle rancher’s wife goes vegan: “Every marriage has its issues”

By STEVE HARTMAN CBS NEWS March 4, 2016, 8:02 PM

CLICK HERE TO WATCH STORY ON CBSNEWS.COM

ANGLETON, Texas — All cattlemen face challenges beyond their control. But not long ago, on a ranch south of Houston, Tommy Sonnen faced a problem of his own doing.

“You know, every marriage has its issues. It’s not always easy,” he said.

It all began innocently enough. Shortly after they got married six years ago, Tommy’s wife Renee just started hanging out with the livestock. Tommy warned her …

“Renee, don’t name those cows.”

But she didn’t listen. Then she started singing to them, too. And before long, the rancher’s wife had turned into a rancher’s worst nightmare — a vegan, who couldn’t stomach so much as living with a cattle rancher anymore.

“He was just going to get out of the business or our marriage was going to be over,” Renee explained.

Tommy agreed.

“It wasn’t working. And I said, ‘I’m going to sell the whole herd.’ She goes, ‘Well, if you’re going to sell the whole herd anyway, why don’t you just sell ’em to me?’ And I said, ‘Sell ’em to you!?'”

Renee said her husband couldn’t believe what she’d said. “And he looks at me like ‘You have lost it! You are crazy!'”

Renee Sonnen singing to one of the cows on the couple’s cattle ranch. Photo Credit: CBS News

Renee Sonnen singing to one of the cows on the couple’s cattle ranch. Photo Credit: CBS News

What Tommy didn’t know was that Renee had been secretly posting a blog called “Vegan Journal of a Rancher’s Wife.” She attracted thousands of followers. Through those contacts, Renee was able to raise $30,000 — enough for a hostile takeover.

“All of a sudden, he was fixin’ to be bought out by his wife,” Renee said.

“Yeah, I didn’t appreciate it, but it was growing pains,” said Tommy.

And here’s where this story gets good. After his wife raised the money, Tommy did something rare for a rancher, or any man for that matter — he put aside his ego and reconsidered a core belief.

One of the cows at Rowdy Girl Vegan Farm Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: CBS News

One of the cows at Rowdy Girl Vegan Farm Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: CBS News

He stopped eating meat, liked how he felt, and now works for his wife and the Rowdy Girl Vegan Farm Animal Sanctuary. As best we can tell, it’s the only cattle ranch conversion in the country.

So now that he’s changed for Renee, is there anything Tommy would change about his wife?

“I can’t think of a thing,” he said. And there is everything you need to know, to stay married forever.

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4 Comments

  1. What a wonderful heartwarming story. I shared it with all my Vegan friends.

    Reply
  2. A love story for animals and humans alike. What a wonderful couple. All the best to them.

    Reply
    • Renee King-Sonnen

      such a very sweet thing to say – I’m honored and humbled and blessed!

      Reply

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