73 Cows–a breathtaking, effective portraiture of a man struggling emotionally in an occupation he was born into, was filmed as a short documentary set in a cattle farm in England by the brilliant Alex Lockwood. It highlights Jay, who vocalized his internal conflicts on screen–raw and honest–with the support of his wife, Katja Wilde, who stood by him through the series of contemplation and ultimately, transition.
Albeit only 15 minutes in length, the documentary effectively portrayed a bigger problem that many individuals face on a daily basis. Considering the moral weight of their actions, social validations and/or external pressure, many struggles with standing by their own identity while questioning the validity of the decisions they hope to make.
Here’s what interesting:
Jay was born into a cattle farm. It was all he knew his entire life. The act of questioning his conscience and his way of achieving his livelihood seems contradictory to many. What would he do if it weren’t for cattle farming? In what other ways can he pay his bills? Where would his livestock go?
On a typical day, you’d meet someone with similar concerns. An individual who was born omnivore, who was taught his entire life that dairy milk is essential for his bone health and that meat products are the building blocks of protein. Making an alternate choice meant straying away from the norm, rejecting the food you grew up with, and being (occasionally) uncomfortable with social settings that offer little to no options for individuals like yourself. Some even have families and close friends who would go as far as to force them to social settings where they knew that there will be no dietary options catered to their vegetable-eating friend.
Transition is NEVER easy
Going from cattle farming to organic plant farming is one of the scariest things that Jay has done. Similarly, going plant-based can be a scary thing to do for many. People have strong attachments to food precisely because–like many other elements on Earth– food has history and memories attached to it. Sentiments. Traditions. Rituals. Food has been the bonding agent across many cultures, healing agent for many sicknesses, and learning agent for many recipe developers.
It takes a ton of courage, faith, and consideration for someone to unlearn the old practices and pick up new ones. And for those who are transitioning, it can be difficult, expensive, and with lack of social support. From 73 Cows, we witness a beautiful and raw interaction between a man, his livestock, and his wife. You feel what he feel. His wife–someone who although did not feel the same way (yet), was willing to walk the rocky path with him.
Can we apply that in real life?
It takes a similar level of courage, faith, and consideration for someone to unlearn his default diet options and to pick up new ones. And for those who are transitioning, it can be difficult, inaccessible, and with lack of social support. Can we join our hands together to support their dietary choices regardless? Are we able to explore the path with them, or simply cheering for them on the sidelines?
It has been so inspiring to see many doing what is considered different. Folks who, despite the constant push and pull, carving out a unique path for themselves.
If that’s not courage - I don’t know what is.