The Ex-Rancher

Thomas Machowicz

Dan Peterson is a Vietnam war veteran, former pilot and construction sub-contractor.

When he retired and moved from Texas to Oklahoma he decided he would take up ranching, but after sending his first load of cattle to slaughter and a powerful moment with Polly, the matriarch of his herd, Dan says he realized that “they are intelligent, sentient beings” and deserve to live. He decided to become vegetarian, stop ranching and send all 76 cows, bulls and steers to sanctuaries.

Dan’s age, American blue-collar disposition and commitment to saving the lives of his cattle make his message powerful in a way that can’t be heard from anyone else. Dan’s story is one small piece of the greater story about the detrimental effects animal agriculture has on our planet. As we move toward a more plant-based future, there will be more people working with farmed animals who need to be inspired by the compassionate efforts of people like Dan Peterson.

This photographic profile will be used in conjunction with a short film I produced earlier this year, documenting Dan as he sent 16of his cattle to a sanctuary in California, and published as part of a larger documentary, Sanctuary.