Celebrities vs. the beef industry

Don?t have a cow, man. That was the message sent recently by an Amarillo, Tex., jury to a group of irate cattlemen. The jury dismissed the cowboys? $11 million suit against Oprah Winfrey after it decided the talk-show queen hadn?t defamed the beef industry during an episode about ?mad cow? disease. This wasn?t the first time that celebrities had locked horns with carnivore advocates. A brief history of their beefs:

The combatants: k.d. lang vs. KRVN-AM

The beef: When the veggie-loving crooner uttered, ?If you knew how meat was made, you?d probably lose your lunch,? in a 1990 anti-beef ad, country station KRVN in Lexington, Neb., decided that the singer had turned her back on her fans in the Cow Belt. KRVN launched an ?all-lang boycott? that was subsequently taken up by about a dozen Midwestern country radio stations.

The latest dish: At KRVN, the moratorium is still in full effect: ?Our position has not changed,? says program director Craig Larson. The folks at KBOW in Butte, Mont. were more forgiving. Officially, the ban was lifted after about a week — though DJs still don?t spin lang tunes. ?If she had a hit song, we would play it,? says station owner Ron Davis. ?The reason she isn?t on is that she doesn’t have anything worth playing.?

The combatants: Fiona Apple vs. Butterball Turkey Company

The beef: Last Thanksgiving, in a 40-second go-veggie spiel for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Apple urged fans to protest Butterball?s treatment of turkeys. The phone message proved so popular with Apple lovers, PETA?s phone system crashed three times.

The latest dish: To date, Butterball has only received a few protest calls, according to Jean Schnelle, director of the company?s cooking-tip hotline. ?Basically,? she says. ?it was a great excuse for us to talk turkey.? PETA, which had to upgrade its phone systems, has yet to replace Apple?s message — but spokesman Joey Penello says it will soon. Up next: another as-yet-unnamed celeb who will protest — hold on to your string tie, Colonel Sanders — the treatment of chickens.

The combatants: Chrissie Hynde vs. McDonald’s

The beef: Inspired by the rocker?s 1989 comment that she had once ?firebombed McDonald?s? for the cause of animal rights, overzealous activist wannabes bombed a London McDonald?s. The fast-food franchise reportedly threatened to slap Hynde with an injunction forbidding her to mention the eatery in public ever again.

The latest dish: Though McDonald?s does not have a record of any action taken against Hynde, spokesperson Julie Cleary, who recalls the incident, says, ?Those kind of statements coming from anybody are sick, and when they come from someone with a public profile, they are totally irresponsible.? Responds Hynde, ?I talk about whoever I want, whenever I want.?