On Saturday 7 October, Anonymous for the Voiceless gathered at Pitt Street Mall to protest for animal rights by using their signature form of street activism, known as ‘The Cube of Truth’.
As the name suggests, The Cube of Truth is a square formation. It’s composed of activists who don Guy Fawkes masks, black trousers and shirts marked with slogans such as ‘Knives and forks have become weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘In our capacity to suffer, we are all equal’.
But the real attention-grabbers are the TV screens and laptops the activists hold, which play graphic footage recorded in New South Wales and Victorian farms.
On screen, a diseased pig writhes on the killing floor. Male chickens deemed useless by the egg industry zoom down a chaotic conveyor belt and are minced by bloodstained machines. This footage is 100% Australian and the methods of killing are all legal, RSPCA approved and recent, recorded in the last two to three years.
There are many Cubes of Truth internationally. But this particular Cube broke the world record for the most active ever, with approximately 130 vegan activists in attendance. Those who weren’t standing in the Cube dodged through the 2pm foot traffic to ask passers-by the same opening question: ‘Have you ever seen anything like this before?’
Most people hadn’t.
Anonymous for the Voiceless is a global animal rights movement. In recent years the Sydney branch has flexed its street activism muscles during popular shopping times – Thursday nights and early Saturday afternoon. In their belief, “Being vegan is not just a matter of being ‘kind’ to animals; first and foremost, it’s a matter of being fair. Going vegan is the only way we can align our beliefs with our actions.”
I ventured out to Pitt Street Mall in October to witness the record-breaking spectacle, now known across social media as “the Biggest Cube Day”.
A man with a Colonel Sanders moustache, blue Ralph Lauren, and coastal larrikin demeanour was pulling a young girl through the crowd. She saw the Cube and asked, ‘Granddaddy, what’s that?’ He turned his head, inspected the cube, and said, “Just a bunch of whacko vegans who don’t want to eat meat.”
A woman holding a David Jones suit bag was visibly distressed about the scenario. I soon caught on that she was actually disagreeing about the method of slaughter being played on the screens.
“I fully understand your idea,” she said, to an activist. “But you’re sharing the bad stuff… You are sharing the horrible images, not the good ways they kill. I don’t want to see it.”
I glanced back at the closest screen and watched an abattoir worker murder a cow with a hammer.
After listening to the woman’s argument about humane slaughter, the activist suggested that methods of humane slaughter – such as halal – are logically confused, since the definition of humane is to show compassion and empathy.
Not long after a bloke called Terry introduced himself to me. After eating animals for 48 years, Terry turned vegan immediately after watching the documentary Cowspiracy and hearing a speech by Gary Yourofsky, which he dubbed “the best speech you’ll ever hear.”
“I consider myself a sensible and reasonable man but I could no longer justify eating animals,” he said.
So what does it feel like to be on the other side of the mask?
“Meditative and contemplative,” Terry responded. “People forget you’re staring back at them.”
It was a big day for Anonymous for the Voiceless – but their mantra is everyday persistence. Across Sydney there is a stirring of vegan activism, a call to arms breaking the stigma of veganism as something trendy or naff. It is taking form as disciplined, peaceful protest at The Cube of Truth as something well-organised, serious, and most of all, disturbingly affecting.