Went to see my friend, and colleague Brian Sherman this week; founder of Voiceless animal rights activist group; former Director of Channel Ten and still a hot shot business identity. I interviewed him in the 80s when I was a finance journalist at the Financial Review. He was a young finance high flyer; I was an eager ambitious reporter. Both of us were obsessed with money, career and ego. 25 years later we meet again in Byron Bay and we have lunch. He was by then a staunch animal rights advocate, having moved from earthly concerns to a deeply spiritual position on the ecology of life; at the time I lived in a rainforest and had embraced Buddhism, preaching in my weekly column: “First do no harm!”
The lunch was extraordinary. He had me in tears over things he had witnessed as I did him — myself the daughter of a man who owned abattoirs and exported meat to the USA. I grew up thinking The Farm dad used to take us to, was a real farm. My younger sisters and I patted animals on their way to slaughter. We watched them cry and mourn for their young. It is now confirmed the animals do grieve, according to Psychology Today. Brian told me that all the animals ran up to him when he visited the abattoir, they were so happy to have someone kind and compassionate enter their space. “Once you’ve seen the suffering of those animals you forever hear and see them in your head. It haunts me. Human cruelty haunts me,” he told me then, and again the other day.
Brian has influenced me so much since that meeting, I can’t even feed my cats meat any more. Poor things are almost vegan. I consider Brian a National Treasure.