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In Germany, rescued cows are finally getting the respect they deserve — and now they’re movie stars, too

Former dairy farmer Jan Gerdes at his sanctuary. Photos provided by Hof Butenland

Jan Gerdes was a third-generation dairy farmer. He took pride in his work, for a while. But then he started to feel torn, about the work that for so long felt perfectly normal, then began to feel the opposite. He was burnt out, and in 2002 Gerdes decided to sell off his herd. But when the day came to send the final twelve cows to slaughter, he just couldn’t do it. Instead, the farmer was compelled to keep the lucky dozen, and offer them refuge at what would become Germany’s first cow retirement home.

“As a dairy farmer I was…

Queer editor/producer Sasha Perry chats with ‘Tenderly’ about ‘The Animal People,’ the story of six imprisoned animal rights activists

Photos courtesy of Sasha Perry

As we all make our way through this unprecedented global lockdown and pandemic, everyone and their mother seem to be taking a moment to glorify Tiger King animal abuser Joe Exotic. Instead of watching glossed over animal cruelty for fun, I recommend instead turning every ounce of frustration you’re feeling in quarantine towards efforts to end animal testing.

Animal People centers around six animal rights activists who were convicted of terrorism and imprisoned for their protests against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), Europe’s largest contract animal-testing lab. Greg and Natasha Avery and Heather Nicholson founded the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)…

It doesn’t matter if it’s fictitious or not; I’m not down with it

Photo: Mike Lorusso via Unsplash

I’ll never watch The End of the F***king World, The Stranger, or Don’t F*ck With Cats, even though I normally enjoy watching movies and TV shows about serial killers, young adults, or true-crime.

I’m still undecided about Tiger King.

I can’t stand to watch any kind of animal death or animal abuse, even if it’s fictional or necessary to move the plot along. …

21 Questions

Jasmine C. Leyva’s documentary ‘The Invisible Vegan’ makes important connections — let’s listen to her

Photos: Tyrone Richardson/Natural Woman Photography

If you’re social-distancing right now, you might think you’ve already worked your way through most of the vegan documentaries worth watching. But have you watched The Invisible Vegan yet? Available on Vimeo, Amazon, Tubi TV, and KweliTV (a black female-owned streaming service!) this documentary deserves to be one of the most-famous in the vegan canon.

Created and directed by Jasmine C. Leyva, The Invisible Vegan is about the connection between African American culture and veganism — and its erasure. Leyva covers ample ground in an extremely entertaining way, from the true history of soul food, to how food deserts and…

Tereza’s love of animals means more than you might realize

Photo: Orion Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

When Daniel Day Lewis married Juliette Binoche, a piglet attended the ceremony. Celebrating with champagne at a busy restaurant later that day, Binoche flagged down a woman carrying a basket of puppies. “Oh, let’s save one,” she said. Then she added, softly, “It will make us happy.”

The surreal events, of course, were fictional — a moment captured in the 1988 adaptation of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Binoche played Tereza, the reserved yet gutsy daughter from a rural Czech town, who becomes a photojournalist documenting Prague’s social and political upheaval. Lewis portrayed Tomas, a philandering doctor with…

In recent films ‘Midsommar,’ ‘The Revenant,’ and ‘Annihilation,’ bears play crucial and terrifying roles. What does it mean?

Photo: A24 Films

This piece contains spoilers for Annihilation, Midsommar, and The Revenant.

We humans have a complicated relationship with bears. In popular stories, books, and movies, bears often play the part of large, intimidating, carnivorous creatures to be feared, and yet are also often the fluffy, adorable friends that are given to children in plush form. Much of their representation is aimed at youth: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Paddington, The Berenstain Bears, and more. Historically, bears have also repeatedly shown up in mythology and folklore, often symbolizing rebirth or a connection with the spiritual world.

In three recent films: The Revenant…

The slickest vegan documentary yet is now widely available on Netflix. I’m grateful, and yet…

Photo: The Game Changers

“The Game Changers PR people are handing out vouchers for popcorn, but I asked and it isn’t even vegan! Are you going to be hungry? I knew we should have fed you before.”

Because he is a man who went vegan at my suggestion, I’m often worried about Gael eating enough. Frequently, I wonder what it would be like him. Someone who looks for the smoothie marked with the highest number of calories like he’s racking up baskets rather than fouls. …

“Ad Astra” is about human hubris — and finding joy back here on earth

Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Numerous spoilers for “Ad Astra” ahead…

Halfway through James Gray’s pensive sci-fi / dad-feels film Ad Astra, a distress call leads Brad Pitt’s character, Major Roy McBride, and another astronaut to a small spaceship that they note has been approved for “animal research.” When they try to respond, no one answers. When they enter, no one can be seen or heard. They split up.

When Major McBride loses communication with his colleague, he makes his way back towards him. After passing by ominously shredded padded walls, he finds the man shaking strangely, the front half of his body obscured. A…

Media Consumption

Comfort food (and optional kitchen dancing) inspired by “Mermaids.”

Orion Pictures

The fourth installment in “Media Consumption,” a series of essays and recipes that take culinary inspiration from our favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

There is great responsibility when someone reverently shows you a movie or TV show that is important to them. Even if it’s not to your taste, you should at least respect their enthusiasm, right? Recently a dear friend showed me the 1990 film Mermaids — it was my first time watching it, but for them it was a childhood favorite, and I promised to give it my full attention.

I was immediately awash with an…


How my empathy for a frog puppet led me to ethical veganism

Digging into my favorite strawberry Jello at Thanksgiving dinner, my grandpa exclaimed, “It’s made from horse hooves!” I dropped my spoon and the red Jello jiggled back into the bowl. I was ten years old when I stopped eating Jello. I don’t remember when I realized hamburgers were once cows, but I can tell you exactly when I learned people ate frog legs. I was five years old, sitting in the plush red seats of a movie theater watching The Muppet Movie.

Sure, there’s puppets, singing, and funny jokes, but The Muppet Movie goes to some dark places; the bad…


good living for every being

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