Lang cancels show amid vegetarian controversy

On today’s date in 1992, Canadian-born country music artist k.d. lang cancelled her planned show in Owen Sound, Ont. after local beef farmers threatened to blockade the concert parking lot with tractors and other farm equipment. The vegetarian singer had already angered Alberta farmers by appearing in a “Meat Stinks” advertising campaign.

Last year, Canada Post unveiled five new stamps dedicated to Canada’s homegrown country stars, including Lang, Shania Twain, Tommy Hunter, Renee Martel and Hank Snow. The stamps were released in five separate booklets of 10, with one devoted to each artist.

“The music of these artists holds a special place for so many Canadians, and these stamps are likely to stir memories of those lasting musical moments,” said Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover.

The Permanent-rate Lang stamp (CS Scott # 2770), which measures 40 mm x 32 mm, depicts a portrait of Lang.

Canada Post also issued booklets of 10 stamps commemorating k.d. lang.

Canada Post also issued booklets of 10 stamps commemorating k.d. lang.

A July 1990 story in The Washington Post detailed the controversy surrounding Lang’s cameo in a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ad, which led to a number of radio stations in America’s cattle country dropping the Grammy-winning singer. What’s more, a sign in Consort, Alta. identifying it as the “Home of k.d. lang” was burned to the ground.

In the ad, Lang is shown hugging a cow named Lulu and saying, “We all love animals, but why do we call some of them pets and some of them dinner? If you knew how meat was made, you’d probably lose your lunch. I know – I’m from cattle country – that’s why I became a vegetarian. Meat stinks, and not just for animals but for human health and the environment.”

Gordon Mitchell, Alberta’s former minister of agriculture, went as far as to say it was “extremely unfortunate that she has decided to side with the animal rightists. There’s a certain feeling of betrayal – we have supported k.d. fairly well in Alberta.”

In the U.S. Midwest, a Wichita-based radio company with seven stations in Kansas and one in Oklahoma pulled lang’s records. The Shepherd Group, which has three stations in Missouri and one in Montana, also initiated a ban.

The official first-day cover was cancelled in Consort, Alta., where lang grew up.

The official first-day cover was cancelled in Consort, Alta., where lang grew up.

Larry Steckline, a Wichita broadcaster who owned five country stations in Kansas – the top beef state in the U.S. at the time.

Steckline, who was also a farmer and rancher, said he had no problem with lang’s choice to be a vegetarian.

“My problem is somebody with a name in this industry coming down hard on the number one industry in our state. That’s not what I call ladylike.”

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