Ondine Sherman -- For the Voiceless
Ondine Sherman was eight years old when she made the connection
between the meat on her plate and animals on a farm.
She vividly remembers the night her grandmother cooked up a pot of
tongue for her family.
"My grandmother lived with us and she was serving up the food up. And
I think I took my first bite and I looked at it and I said 'what is
this?' And she said, 'it's tongue, it's a cow's tongue'."
"I just went into shock. Like I just couldn't believe I was eating
somebody's tongue. And I realised that I didn't want to eat animals
any more," Ondine recalled.
For Ondine, the idea that all animals play happily in the sunshine on
Old MacDonald's Farm was shattered.
And while most parents might put an early declaration of vegetarianism
down to childhood petulance, Ondine's parents encouraged her freedom
of choice and allowed her to begin a journey into animal activism.
Her teenage years were spent handing out leaflets for Animal
Liberation New South Wales, rescuing ducks injured during the hunting
season and debating the legitimacy of her vegetarian lifestyle with
family friends and school mates.
In 2003, Ondine took Brian to an animal rights conference in America.
It was there that he made the same sort of connection that his
daughter had made as a child eating her grandmother's dish of tongue.
"These images I saw at the animal rights conference in America some
two years ago stayed with me, and have stayed with me for a long, long
time," he said.
"After 23 years of not eating meat it was the first time that I
actually understood the issues.
"I felt in seeing these living beings in these steel cages, never to
go out until their deaths, that we were somehow playing God. It just
felt ungodly. It just didn't feel right, there is something
Returning with fire in their bellies, Ondine and Brian founded
Voiceless, a non-profit organisation which aims to promote respect and
compassion for animals.
Voiceless says its approach is "mainstream": they use a grants program
to support the work of existing animal protection organisations, they
have a legal arm which works on public policy and law and they have an
educational arm which promotes compassion for animals to school-aged
"At Voiceless we don't do raids, we don't support any illegal
activities," Ondine said. "We are taking a very mainstream and