Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the judging for the Lush Prize 2015. The Lush Prize is an annual award to give recognition to those raising awareness for animal testing, lobbying against it and working to find alternatives. I was incredibly excited to attend the judging and meet other people who are so passionate about bringing animal testing to an end.
One of those people was Lush Ethical Director Hilary Jones, the woman behind the many Lush animal rights campaigns. Her recent work includes the Lush campaign to keep the fox hunting ban, an excellent example of how standing up for animal rights really does work. Also in attendance was Rob Harrison, founder of Ethical Consumer, the non-profit conscious living magazine now in its 25th year. The two have been working together on the Lush Prize since it first began in 2012.
The judges, all experts on the subject of animal testing, are from many different fields of work and travelled from many different countries to decide on the winners. I was there on the day as a reserve judge and taking notes, as well as enjoying some lovely vegan food!
The night before the judging we went out for dinner at vegetarian/vegan restaurant Tibits in Mayfair. It's certainly a fun dining experience. All the meals are laid out on a buffet, you choose whatever you like and the staff weigh your plate at the end to work out the cost. There may have been a mini competition between the judges to see who had the heaviest plate! (I lost.)
The choice of food was excellent. I am always so overwhelmed when I go to a completely vegetarian or vegan place to eat, because I can eat everything! It's so nice not to have to worry about possible animal ingredients, or what they've been cooked in. So I completely forgot about eating vegan and put a spoonful of everything on my plate (all vegetarian of course).
I don't have a clue what I ate but it tasted brilliant. This was the first time I'd tried seitan, which is very good, after reading about it recently in Vegan Life magazine. For dessert I picked all three vegan options: pannacotta (not great), sticky toffee pudding (delicious) and lemon cream (amazing). I can certainly recommend Tibits if you're in London and want the choice of lots of vegetarian and vegan options, or just want to try somewhere a little different.
The judging took place the next day at the Lancaster Hotel. I had an incredible view from my room overlooking Hyde Park and I had such a lovely stay. The Lancaster also provided an excellent vegan lunch for us all, with a gorgeous peach and pear crumble for afters. Can you tell I really like my desserts?
Obviously I can't talk too much in detail about the judging itself, as the winners will be announced in November. Until then I'm sworn to secrecy, but I will give you a little overview.
The judges included University professors, directors from Humane Society International, Peta and PCRM, as well as a Lush member of staff and Lush customer and animal rights activist. They all held a wealth of knowledge about animal testing and were all very invested in the cause. They were such an inspiring group of people to meet, and already I find myself motivated to do more for helping animals and spreading the word about cruelty-free.
There are five categories to the Lush Prize: Lobbying, Public Awareness, Science, Training and Young Researcher. It's an international award so there were nominations from all over the world, with 2015 seeing double the amount of submissions. It was fascinating to learn about people raising awareness and teaching in other countries where animal testing is much less taboo. And it's incredibly commendable that so many scientists and researchers are choosing not to test on animals, when in so many fields it is the easier option to do so.
One or two judges lead the discussion for each category and there was much analysis for each one, with a lot of thought and consideration to choosing the winners. The prize altogether is £250,000 split between the different categories, so it's a huge amount of money to award! Decisions for the winners were mainly finalised by voting, and this year there were certainly a few stand out nominees.
The Lush Prize is the largest award of its kind, and I hope for the scientists and researchers nominated, an incentive to avoid animal testing. Whether the nominees have conducted animal testing, used animal parts or published work using such in the last few years is a question that is asked of all submissions for the Science, Training and Young Researcher categories and the answer certainly plays a part in the decision making.
One topic mentioned was alternatives to the LD50 test, which is a really archaic and illogical method of animal testing, along with the draize test. A scientific breakthrough or a ban to eliminate these tests would be a huge step forwards. As horrific as it is to think about, as consumers the best thing we can do is to carry on protesting animal testing, through petitions, raising awareness and voting with our money. Boycotting brands who continue to test on animals is so important, and it really does make a difference!
The science is here to replace animal testing, at least in cosmetics, but current regulations and the 'old-fashioned' way of proving results for toxicity safety stand in the way. The Lush Prize aims to break through those barriers and see a future free of animal testing.
The winners will be announced in November at the Lush Prize awards ceremony, which I'm beyond excited to be attending and blogging about. It's an event where experts from many countries around the world meet to discuss the work of ending animal testing. This cause is exactly the reason I started my blog and I am thrilled to be a part of the award this year. Thank you Lush for having me!