For Place and for Animals

For Place and for Animals

The Perennial Plate - Sn 1/Ep 1The Perennial Plate - Sn 1/Ep 1

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In the first film from The Perennial Plate's "A Season in Colorado," Keri Brant, a former vegetarian and gender studies professor, who married into a ranching family, shares misconceptions associated with eating animals.

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Transcript

- ♫ Hey, sun ♫ Hey, sun ♫ Sunlight ♫ - My whole life is obsessed with thinking about how humans and animals create a world together. And so that was sort of who I was when I met David. ♫ Oo-oo-oo, light ♫ In my hand ♫ And he took me on a cattle drive through town. It was a great, a great second date. ♫ Blindly, blindly, blindly ♫ And so at that point I was a vegetarian, and I remember I was driving over here and I was like, why am I driving to go on a date with a cattle rancher. This doesn't make any sense. ♫ Into the tall grass ♫ But I did it and I guess the rest is sort of history. So a lot of people say that cows are stupid, or I've heard people say that, but I think they're really smart. And often when removing them, once they sort of, like once they decide they're gonna go, then they go. It's kind of their decision. And they figure it out. Oh-ho-ho-ho, that's a trouble. - [Boy] I'm stuck. - Oh. Okay, okay, we can't laugh too hard. Like get over there. One. Two. Now I gotta get mine. - [Boy] It's so hard getting those boots out of there. - [Keri] Good job. - [Boy] You have to pull hard, huh? - You know, everyone in my family is real animal people and I did my PhD dissertation was on human-horse communication. So my whole life I've just been like totally obsessed with animals. And then I started thinking, well why am I eating animals? And I went through this whole sort of experience where I just came to this place where I didn't feel comfortable eating them because I felt like they like their lives as much as I like mine. And so that was sort of who I was when I met David. - Waaas! Waaas! - It was, it's just been a really interesting journey with him and coming here. And in fact, I lost some friends in marrying David because I had some friends that were vegan and it was really hard for them to understand that I could fall in love with a cattle rancher. It just couldn't be possible for them. And I think in their mind the way cattle ranchers get represented often in the media is like these gruff, mean men that don't care about their animals, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. Ranchers are doing the work that the general public doesn't have to. And by that I mean like you can go to the grocery store and kind of disassociate, and you can buy your hamburger. And a lot of people like love animals deeply and still eat meat. And the way our industry's set up is, you can kind of disassociate from the fact that this was a living animal that you're eating, you know, while you have your dogs that you love so much sitting at your feet. And the more I think about it is, rancher's are doing that work. They're doing all the grappling, and seems like around the ethics of these things. And often times I think ranchers get painted as the ones who are not thinking about that. - Mommy? I want to go home right now. - We're going to, actually. - [Boy] Lemonade. - Okay. - Ah, why am I so wet? - [Keri] Are you all wet? - Yeah. - You might be mosquito bait down there. I'd get up if it were me. I'll help you. There you are, okay. I'm not sure we should eat animals. It's hard to eat without causing harm, whether it's vegetables or animals. And I'm not saying that as a way to justify eating meat, but that I began I think to understand the complexity more once I came to live here. And I used to make it really simple. Like, you just don't eat meat. And then I think what I thought, well, if I'm not eating meat, I'm not causing any harm. But then I started to study the food industry more and got more interested in that and realized well, there's a lot of harm being caused by our plant crops, too. I became really invested in how to create less harm. Like, how can we eat with less harm? These big corporate agricultural entities have become so big that they get to then sort of dictate the structure of the industry. The place where most ranchers can sell their calves every year is into the industrial feed lots. It's not like there's all these other, there aren't a lot of grass-fed finishers. There's a lot of corn and grain finishers. So then as a rancher, sort of I think David was faced with this question of like, I don't want my animals to go, I don't want to sell my calves into the feed lots anymore. But then now David has to find somebody who can finish the calves on grass because if we kept all our calves and finished them on grass, we don't have enough land, and most people don't. And then this is the first year that he's been able to find a buyer that said he'll finish 'em on grass. It's not easy. We need a stronger sort of middle man, I guess, to raise the calves on grass once they're weened from their moms in order to really grow that grass-fed market. But it's not efficient, you know, and people want to eat a lot of meat. I think I thought if you decide you want to work with them this way, you just do it. Or if you want them all to be in the grass-fed market, you just do it. And it's so much more complicated on the ground. They've been living a certain way on this very land for 150 years. For place and for land and for water and for plants and for animals, and that's been the beautiful part of the transition here. I was surprised at how much love and care there is that happens on a ranch between the people who work with the animals and the animals themselves. ♫ Now there is no one ♫ You belong to now ♫ There is no one ♫ You belong to now ♫ There is no one ♫ You belong to now ♫ I belong to you ♫ ♫ I, I, I ♫ I, I, I ♫

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