Rowdy Girl, the Film About a Cattle Ranch Who Went Vegan
By Jordi Casmitjana, October 26, 2023
The new documentary Rowdy Girl follows former Texas cattle ranchers Renee King-Sonnen and her husband Tommy on their journey to rescue animals and help other ranchers go vegan too.
Hollywood, October 26th, 2023 — Rowdy Girl is a new feature-length documentary about a former country singer, Renee King-Sonnen, who turned her husband’s cattle ranch in Texas into a vegan sanctuary for rescued cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals.
The film Rowdy Girl follows Renee who, when confronted with the cruel reality of animal agriculture, goes vegan and then transforms her husband’s calf/cow operation into a farmed animal sanctuary. When their story goes viral, she realizes her true calling: to help farmers transition to plant-based production and end animal agriculture. The film, already shown at several film festivals, showcases the inspiring work of a woman who has been on both sides of the issue. It reveals that many farmers themselves are distressed over what’s happening in 21st century industrialized animal agriculture.
Produced and directed by filmmaker Jason Goldman, this film brilliantly reveals one woman’s journey to compassion. Told with an observational style that is both emotionally moving and hilarious, viewers will feel they are right there with Renee and her husband Tommy as they transform their lives and help other Texans to do the same. The famed vegan musician Moby is executive producer of this film. Greg Beauchamp and Carter Collins are co-executive producers. It was edited by Pilar Rico.
The UnchainedTV streaming network has a Rowdy Girl Sanctuary channel featuring many videos about the work Renee and Tommy are doing helping farmed animals. UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell interviewed Renee and Jason about their film, and you can watch the entire conversation here:
Not Another Animal Rights Documentary
Jason Goldman is the talented filmmaker behind Rowdy Girl and other films such as Sidelined (2018) and Dreams from a Petrified Head (2011). He said the following about why he decided to embark on this project:
“I wanted to channel my experience in film production, mostly from producing TV commercials and client work, and put that energy into something else. Something that I cared about passionately. I went vegan in 2016 and, around 2018, I started coming up with the idea of doing a feature film about animal sanctuaries. I felt like, in the spectrum of animal rights films, there might be an opportunity for something about a sanctuary owner and what drove them to create this entity that rescues maybe a hundred or so animals for their lifetime.”
In 2018, he connected with Renee and felt that her story needed a full treatment. However, he did not want to make just another animal rights documentary for the vegan audience. He wanted to dig deeper and reach further. He explains:
“The goal of this film is to break into a mainstream audience of non-vegan, non-animal rights people who would still go see it, and that is the intention behind the style, the tone, all the creative choices I made, and also how the distribution is going.”
“Part of the reason I think this film works is because Tommy and Renee are very authentic.” — Jason Goldman, filmmaker
From Cattle Ranch to Vegan Sanctuary
Renee King-Sonnen is proud to be known as the co-founder of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary in Texas. Having been a touring country singer, she would sit out in the field with her husband’s herd to play guitar and sing. That’s when she began observing and connecting with the cows. She realized it was immoral to kill them. To say her husband was initially dismissive of Renee’s conversion is a massive understatement. So, Renee secretly raised enough money to buy out her husband’s herd and turned the ranch into a vegan animal sanctuary. That process almost resulted in divorce. But, in the end, they got through it as a couple. Now, both Renee and her husband Tommy are vegan. Renee explains the exact moment she publicly adopted the vegan philosophy. It happened in 2014 at her mother-in-law’s house on – of all days – Halloween:
“My mother-in-law brought out a pot of beef stew…and I just said, I can’t eat that. And my mother-in-law said, ‘Why not Renee?’, and I said, ‘Because it’s got a bunch of floating, dead, hacked-up, animal bodies in it, and I am not touching that.’ My mother-in-law was like, ‘Well, Renee, you can pick it out,’ and I was like, ‘No ma’am, there ain’t no more picking it out for me, that’s over!’ I slid down the rabbit hole of veganism at that moment.”
Renee and Jason are now crowdfunding for the tour where the film is being shown to selective audiences throughout the nation. She explains how excited she is about it:
“The Rowdy Girl impact tour is really growing and it’s really exciting. We’ve got a $50,000 match towards the tour with a commitment to even have more funding if we can meet this match, and yesterday we got a $25,000 donation toward that match… Taking me on tour, taking me out of the sanctuary so that I can be there with you when this documentary is screened with Jason, it’s just upping the level.”