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 intrinsically wrong."

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 children.

"At Voiceless we don't do raids, we don't support any illegal activities," Ondine said. "We are taking a very mainstream and inclusive approach.