Review: Rowdy Girl


Rowdy Girl is an amber-brown, willful cow who does what she pleases. She is not confined to a milking stall but roams the land with freedom. She may come when she’s called – or not. She’s free, obstinate, and has a mind of her own.

But there is also another “Rowdy Girl” on the property. She is also committed to her own ideas and way of life. Her name is Renee King-Sonnen and she has the goal of transforming the farming practices and animal-based diets of America.

Some years ago, Renee found herself increasingly upset by the slaughter of cattle on the Texas ranch she ran with her husband, Tommy Sonnen. It was driving a wedge in her marriage and in her very soul. She convinced Tommy to transform their farm into a sanctuary where no beast would be killed and all were welcome.

“Rowdy Girl” opens with Miss Sealy, a gorgeous white turkey, who has an injured ankle. Sealy is entirely domesticated, coming when called, kissing with a peck, and enjoying massages under her wings. She follows Renee and her husband and has the run of the house with regular visits to the table, where she may even eat off Rene’s plate.

In the morning, Renee does her sun salute yoga in front of a white bull (or cow). She hand-feeds him something, says affirming words, and tells him, “I’m so glad we are here for you.”

While plant-based cooking in her kitchen, Renee listens to a recitation of Tao Te Ching:

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

Renee repeats the last two lines. This is Taoism, a Chinese philosophy-religion from around 500 B.C.E. Taoists believe that both humans and animals should live in balance. After they die, their spirits join the universe.

Renee has set up a foundation to help animal-based farms and ranches transition to plant-based operations. One example is a chicken farm that held thousands of chickens in a long-darkened facility that was transformed into a lucrative mushroom farm.

Executive produced by Moby, a musical pioneer, vegan and animal rights activist, this is a fun documentary that will cause some thought about diet and how we run our lives. Jason Goldman, the director/producer, was drawn to Renee’s story when he learned that “she was not only rescuing animals, but rescuing ranchers.”

I loved this documentary. How Renee interacts with her rescued animals, how she talks in their language, and how she and her husband nurture each animal (they are all named) is inspiring. Tommy and Renee are brimming with ideas and goals to better align with animals and the universe.

Rating: 10/10


Director/Producer: Jason Goldman
Executive Producer: Moby
Writers: Michael Aaglund, Deborah Dickson and Karen Sim
Theatrical Release: May 31, 2024 (festival release 2023)
Official Website and Screenings:

. . .

Join us on Facebook at!

Comments are closed.