Australian actress Lynda Stoner was known as one of the most glamorous soap stars of the 1970s and ’80s, first starring in the Paul Hogan Show and then landing lead roles in the soap opera The Young Doctors and the police drama Cop Shop. She later starred as the villainous Eve Wilder in the cult soap Prisoner.
But the role few knew about until more recently is that of avid animal rights campaigner.
Stoner has been a vegetarian for more than 25 years and a vegan for more than seven and published her own vegan cookbook Now Vegan! in 2008, which won Best Australian Vegetarian Cookbook in the international Gourmand Awards.
In an interview about the release of her cookbook she said she “wanted to send a message that meat and dairy production causes more harm to animals, the environment and human health than any other single factor.”
Her passion for animal campaigning began after she saw footage of harp seal pups being slaughtered and skinned alive. In a 2000 interview for Animal Liberation NSW she said, “while many news stories have affected me, I’ve been able to dissociate. This one continued to haunt me though and I spent hours researching alternatives to the uses of seals, whales and dolphins. I worked as a volunteer for Friends of the Earth during the early weeks of Cop Shop but was still seeking more information about exploitation of non-human animals. Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation had just been released and the reading of it was an epiphany. I felt as though I’d come home.”
Now a senior Animal Liberation official, she has continued to work for animal rights in Australia and says she has lost count of the number of protests she has attended, but estimates it would be in the hundreds.
One of the most publicised was in 2008 where she joined fellow actress Fiona Corke of Neighbours fame to bring global attention to the controversial kangaroo cull, which she described as a “tragic, outrageous and inhumane situation”.
Most recently Stoner was in the press after her organisation’s animal liberation float was rejected by Mardi Gras officials after 14 years of taking part in the festival. “We feel marginalised and discriminated against and that’s really quite distressing, especially coming from the Mardi Gras, which is all about making a stand against discrimination,” she was quoted as saying. “We’re really, really disappointed. I’m gobsmacked.”