You are the Co-founder and Managing Director of Voiceless, the animal protection institute. Can you tell us a bit about the role that Voiceless plays in protecting our animal friends?
Our animal friends need our help to protect them from cruelty. My father and I started Voiceless because we are very passionate about building a kinder more compassionate future.
For the last fifteen years, together with our Voiceless team, we’ve been working hard to raise awareness of institutionalised animal suffering. We also focussed on animal law because animals are considered ‘property’ and they don’t have meaningful legal protection.
Voiceless is now proud to be the home of animal protection education and we are providing high schools and universities with the resources and tools they need to help students think critically about the human-animal relationship. We believe that our new generation of thinkers and leaders will make positive change for animals.
What have been some of your recent victories?
Our latest animal protection education (APE) resources have been a great success with teachers preparing for the NAPLAN. One English teacher just contacted us to say that all her year 7 and 9 classes will be using them. It made our day!
On a bigger scale, we are proud to have helped build and empower Australia’s animal protection movement and take it from the side-lines into the mainstream. With the help of our media prizes, grants, campaigns, lectures, lobbying, submissions… and numerous in-depth reports into animal industries and law, today we see animal issues discussed regularly in the public domain. Change is coming!
The teenage years are often a time when young people are exploring their identity and as part of this take up a vegetarian or vegan diet. What is your advice to them?
My advice is to go for it, how exciting! Embrace a healthy veggie or vegan diet and enjoy the wonderful world of new foods and tastes. For inspiration, check out local vegan-friendly markets, restaurants and stores and follow vegan food bloggers on Instagram, join Facebook recipe groups (there’s a tonne!) and subscribe to vegan YouTubers. We’re spoilt for choice these days.
I also suggest building a network of people who ‘get’ where you’re coming from and understand your point of view. There are many active online communities and new friends can also be found at local vegan meet-ups and cruelty-free festivals.
Seeing a dietician who is knowledgeable about plant-based diets may help provide ideas and guidance about creating a balanced diet with all the protein, iron and calcium our bodies need. For vegans, remember it’s essential to take a B12 supplement.
Sky is your first YA fiction book and second after your memoir The Miracle of Love, why did you choose to write in the YA genre?
When finished writing my memoir, I realised how much I love to write and how I never want to stop! I want to write about issues I care deeply about. I chose YA because I believe young people are our best chance at saving the world and protecting all its sentient beings. When I was a teenager, I was passionate about many social justice issues including animal rights and the environment. Today, there are so many young people who feel the same desire to make the world a better place and I hope my series will inspire them to get involved.
What are you hoping teens will take away from Sky?
I hope Sky will encourage teens to think, talk, discuss and debate issues connected to animal protection that they may have never contemplated before. I also hope they finish reading it feeling a little more empowered. One person canmake a huge effect in their community or even their country. And, just by being true to their values, teens can become a role-model for their friends and family and their circles of influence can quickly expand.
Can you recommend a few books (fiction and non-fiction) that teens and their parents can read to find out more about animal protection?
There are many wonderful books to read. I love J.M. Coetzee’s short novel, The Lives of Animals, as it’s very deep and philosophical. Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation is a foundational work for the movement and has changed the lives of so many people I know and respect. Jeffrey Masson has some excellent books on animal emotion including The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, he’s a wonderful writer. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is also a must-read!
Ondine is the co-founder and managing director of Voiceless, the animal protection institute. She is a life-long animal advocate, passionate about promoting respect and compassion for all creatures. Ondine holds a BA in Communications and MA in Environmental Studies. She is an ambassador for Action for Dolphins and director of conservation NGO This is My Earth (TiME), and writes regularly about animal protection in the media.
Ondine grew up in Sydney and now lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and three children. Her mischievous street cats, loyal dogs and ex-battery chickens all keep her extraordinarily entertained.