When I was 17, I happened to see a documentary about pig farming and was so horrified that I decided to go vegetarian. It was an immediate instinctive reaction but I didn't know much about what I was doing. It was a start of a journey and it was hands down the best decision I've ever made. I started discovering how animal farming works, what the environmental impacts of it are and all the links between diet and human health. I was amazed at the wealth of information out there and hungry for learning more but also doing more. Apart from changing my diet, I started researching information on brands that don't test on animals and avoiding all clothing and shoes made from animal-derived materials.
I spent most of my teenage years among horse riders and breeders and all the feelings I had kept to myself until the time I became vegetarian were suddenly no longer just mine. I was so relieved to be able to talk to people who understood my resentment for the horse industry and saw that it’s got nothing to do with love for horses.
I became a vegan and spent a year and a half at a vet college, trying to become a vet and avoid animal abuse and testing but I was under a lot of pressure towards the end and decided to leave (I know better now!). I went on to study zoology, animal behaviour and human nutrition and started working with InterNICHE (International Network for Humane Education) to actively fight against animal experiments in life science education. I became their national contact for the Czech Republic and with the help of a Czech animal rights group Svoboda zvirat (Freedom for Animals), I started a Humane Education project, spreading the information about alternatives to animal experiments at high schools and universities and enabling these institutions to find ethical solutions for their courses that use animals. I was also involved in campaigns against zoos and circuses and studied vegan nutrition.
When I graduated, this work had become my full time job and I took on the role of the campaigns coordinator of Svoboda Zvirat’s anti-vivisection work. We became a part of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), lobbied politicians to achieve legislation changes in new European directives and a chemical testing programme (REACH) and launched Humane Cosmetics Standard (HCS or ‘the leaping bunny logo’) and Humane Household Products Standard in the Czech Republic.
Through my work with other European animal protection groups, I met my husband and after a couple of years of long-distance relationship I applied for an internship at the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) in London. I got the internship, moved into the UK and worked as BUAV’s science officer for the next eight months, researching various animal experiments including military and chemical testing. In the last few months of my internship I applied for a job at Viva! and in 2010 I became Viva!Health campaigner.
My work is now split into two areas – one is vegan nutrition and health (Viva!Health) and the other one is Viva!’s White Lies campaign that includes all things dairy. It’s a lot to handle but I know I’m very lucky to be able to do work I 100% believe in and it’s far more than work, it’s a way of life.
The work I do can be extremely rewarding when I see the direct results or when I see one of our campaigns picked up and shared by people all over the world. On the other hand, the amount of suffering and ignorance we deal with every day does get too much sometimes but the knowledge that there are so many people out there working towards a kinder world and opening their eyes to what’s happening all around us always brings me back up.
My life as it is now has grown from that rash decision when I was a teenager and I’m so glad I did that. I’ve met the kindest, most genuine people on my journey, became healthier and much more aware and awake. The only downside is that we can never do/change as much as we’d like to but being a part of the solution is the only place to be…