Carol Treacy’s first book, “Vegan Cowboy,” was published in June. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

The words vegan and cowboy rarely go together, but to Petaluma resident Carol Treacy, the combination made perfect sense.

She’s a longterm vegetarian who is opposed to factory farming. She’s also a writer who learned to love cowboys after trading the bustle of Southern California for Sonoma County’s wide open spaces.

Best Of Sonoma County Mexican Food El Farolito“I used to joke that the only man who could steal my heart was a vegetarian cowboy,” said Treacy, 59. The joke became the germ of an idea, and in June she published her first novel, “Vegan Cowboy” (CreateSpace, $14.95).

Treacy describes the story this way: “‘Vegan Cowboy’ takes place in Petaluma and is the result of wanting to expose factory farming in a story about a woman who, in her late 50s, finally decides to follow her intuition.” In many ways, the story mirrors her life.

“I have quite a bit in common with the female character named Rae,” Treacy said. “We’re both single, in our late fifties and have a son. We also have an aversion to getting older.

“My attitude about men and living a fulfilling life coincides with Rae’s as well. My friends who have read Vegan Cowboy know very well who Rae takes after.”

Treacy spent her early years in California’s San Fernando Valley and in 1986 came to Petaluma, where her car radio picked up only a few stations, one of which was country/western.

“Soon after I started listening, I was hooked,” she said. “The love of country music grew into the love for the whole cowboy look, from the Stetson to the boots and the cowboy drawl.”

A few years later she stopped eating meat and, four years ago, became a vegan. Much of her adult life was spent in sales until she left the work force to become a writer. For 13 years she ran The Write Cause, a letter-writing service for animal and environmental rights, penning screenplays in her spare time. She wrote four but couldn’t find a buyer for any of them.

Treacy decided to shift to novels, “because living in Petaluma, far from the madding Hollywood crowd, my chances of getting an agent or anyone to even consider reading my scripts was nonexistent,” she said. “Unless you have connections, it’s just about impossible to get someone to read your screenplay.

“I always came back to thinking about a vegetarian cowboy and animal rights. “In addition, it was important for me to write about a woman in her late 50s who finds love even though she wasn’t looking or interested, a woman who finally decides to follow her intuition. So few people seem to listen to their gut, no matter what it’s telling them.”

You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy the book, said Treacy, who has gotten compliments from meat-eaters and vegans alike.

“If I can educate people on the realities of raising animals for food while still entertaining them with an engaging story, I’ve accomplished my goal,” she said.

“One thing people need to remember is that no matter what your age, you can accomplish anything. Fear of failure, loss of income, being too old. All those kept me from pursuing this dream.
“Approaching 60 doesn’t seem so abhorrent any more, now that I’ve written a novel and am working on a second one. It’s given my life purpose.”

“Vegan Cowboy” is available on Amazon and at all Copperfield’s Book stores.