VITA won the Lush Prize for Public Awareness in 2012. Here they explain a little more about their work.
Could you describe who you are and what you do?
VITA Animal Rights Centre is a non-profit animal protection organisation, working for the prevention of cruelty to animals in Russia. Animal testing is our second most important campaign issue, behind promoting veganism. VITA is the only Russian organisation that deals with the issue of animal testing nationally. The main focus of our activity is strategic and global projects, carrying out permanent co-operation with Russian scientists, celebrities and luminaries, who help foster a general culture of more ethical behaviour toward animals.
Why were you nominated for the Prize?
We were identified by Ethical Consumer, in their background paper on organisations working to raise public awareness of animal testing globally, as being worthy of consideration for the prize. We were invited to join the shortlist to go forward to the judging panel, and were, of course, delighted to be considered for this honour! The work put forward for the Lush 2012 Public Awareness Prize included:
- Publication of the ‘white’ and ‘black’ lists of Russian cosmetics.
- Contributing to general discussion in the media, by youth, scientists and students; over 100 websites and popular blogs asking to use information on animal testing from our website.
- 74 Beauty Without Cruelty demonstrations held in nine Russian cities.
- Translation of seven books on animal experimentation.
- Over 1,000 stickers, leaflets, badges, etc. distributed in public places.
- Lessons devoted to the issue of animal experimentation given by teachers, with information and support from VITA, in 346 Russian schools and 16 clubs.
Why did you win the Prize?
We were awarded the Lush Public Awareness Prize, because the judges were impressed by our use of highly visible and wide-reaching campaigns, particularly through our use of national media and the internet. The judges also saw our work as pioneering — in Russia the issue of animal testing is relatively new on the political agenda, meaning there is a lot to be done, so the judges wanted to reward and support us in our efforts!
What difference has winning the Prize made to your contribution to the goal of Replacement?
This award was a great pleasure for the whole animal rights movement in Russia, and strengthened our position in the fight against cruel animal testing. We were enthused to learn more about the anti-animal testing movement globally, and the scope of activity of organisations from different countries around the world among our fellow nominees. We were encouraged to find that this important issue, about which we are so passionate, touches the hearts of so many other people on this planet.
Could you outline how your work overlaps with current government ethical policy?
The recent European Union ban on the sale and import of cosmetics tested on animals has been widely discussed in Russia. There were a number of pickets and rallies when the announcement was made, with information sheets distributed to interested passers-by and coverage in the mass media. An advert encouraging people to choose ethical cosmetics for the first time, appeared in the Moscow Metro in March 2013, to coincide with the announcement (a joint project of VITA, Humane Society International and Lush); a similar poster was also placed on the main street of St Petersburg. Judging by subsequent references made to VITA in the media, and increased enquiries to us from members of the public, the posters generated considerable interest in the issue.
One year on from the award of the 2012 Lush Public Awareness Prize, Russia’s Ministry of Health announced that non-animal tests for cosmetics will be accepted. Russian regulations for cosmetics safety state that toxicological tests are required, which had led people to believe that animal testing was still mandatory in Russia. This announcement was therefore very welcome.
What does winning the Prize mean to your organisation?
We were very pleased that the Russian movement against animal testing, represented by our organisation, was commended so highly by the judging panel, despite strong competition. It allowed us to see ourselves as a part of a single global movement, whose activities will surely lead to a global shift in public opinion and a move away from the cruelty involved in the use of animals for testing.
You can read more interviews with Lush Prize winners here.