Former Justice of the High Court The Hon. Michael Kirby AC has joined animal rights organisation Voiceless as patron.
Kirby joins primatologist and animal advocate Dr Jane Goodall as part of the group, dedicated to defending animal rights and establishing animal protection as a social justice movement.
Kirby said this morning (July 21), in an interview with ABC radio, that he was once an "old fashioned carnivore" before reading a book on animal welfare law in Australia and New Zealand, which he claims changed his life.
"It gave me more detail that I really wanted to know about how we cut animals up and kill them," he said.
While Kirby claims he is not a strict vegetarian - he still eats fish - he said the book moved him in the direction of not eating animal food at all.
"If you want to keep on being a carnivore, don't read or find out or discover anything about how we kill animals," he said.
Kirby cited the corporatisation of killing animals for food as having created new ethical dilemmas for society.
"More people are thinking about this now -especially young people - and governments are thinking about the carbon emissions of the huge animal stocks we have," he said.
In May this year, the New Zealand Government outlawed the halal and kosher killing of animals - processes which allow animals to slowly bleed to death
"Animals are sentient beings like us. They suffer pain and fear," said Kirby. "To be human in a sense is to be intelligent; reflective; philosophical and to think about where we stand in the universe. When we do that we realise we stand with other sentient beings."
Next Monday (1st August), Sydney Law School will host the 2011 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series which this year features leading European Union policy advisor Peter Stevenson.
Stevenson will present a talk entitled Reflections from the European Union and share his experience in lobbying for legislative change to improve conditions for farm animals. Stevenson will travel to Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne over 15 days.