Excerpt from an EBC Balkans interview with Nevena Veselinović, vegan blogger, and nutritionist

Author: Isidora Bugarski

In this fast-paced world, where seemingly ordinary people occasionally shine so brightly, we’re often left curious about the secrets behind their allure. Do you recall your childhood dreams and the perfect image of your future self? Did your aspirations come true? And more importantly, are you genuinely content with the path you’ve tread?

In Nevena’s story, she seemed to have it all – the life she had once dreamed of as a child. After initially pursuing a path in organic chemistry, she transitioned to the vibrant world of marketing, securing a position in a marketing agency, believing it to be a creative haven where one could spread their wings. She embraced the corporate grind, donning smart attire, adroitly managing an entire team with an impressive budget, enjoying a substantial salary, a sleek company car, and a spacious office. She had not only gained respect and status but also devoted herself wholeheartedly to her role, often appearing before the cameras in collaboration with the media. The responsibilities were endless, accompanied by countless photo opportunities, an array of captivating costumes, and stylish high heels. Nevena, as a young woman, had fervently pursued this vision, considering it something extraordinary, immensely creative, and inherently business-savvy. Astonishingly, she had managed to turn her dream into reality.

Transforming the Daily Grind into a Fulfilling Passion

On the flip side, the world of corporate deadlines, client demands, and seemingly glamorous marketing campaigns had unveiled a different reality. What appeared enchanting on television and in glossy magazines was, in practice, taxing and often exasperating. It was a realm where success was measured by one’s speed and accomplishments, resulting in an unrelenting 24-hour cycle that blurred the boundaries between the professional and the personal.

Eventually, the exhaustion took its toll. Nevena found herself at a crossroads and decided to pivot her journey. With the support of the union, she set out to breathe life into her personal dreams. The separation, when it came, was a peaceful one, mutually beneficial for both Nevena and her employers.

Crafting an Authentic Self-Image

Her subsequent journey took her down a different path. Nevena chose to invest in herself, both financially and energetically. She dived headfirst into the world of catering, a decision that marked a profound departure from her previous career. Today, she proudly boasts two decades of experience in the realm of diet and nutrition, with the last eight years dedicated to professional work in the restaurant and education sector. Her culinary journey began with catering but expanded into the establishment of a thriving vegan bar. It’s not just any bar; it serves as a vibrant showcase for everything she stands for, especially her commitment to educating people about the merits of a plant-based diet. Additionally, she organized pop-up markets for several seasons, with the noble intention of making organic food and ingredients more accessible while challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.

Nevena also offers personalized guidance to clients seeking to improve their health through the application of healthy eating habits.

The Dietary Transformation

Veganism, she realized, is not just about nutrition; it’s a compassionate way of life. Nevena embarked on her journey towards veganism two decades ago, long before she fully comprehended its ethical dimensions. Her initial shift away from meat was driven by personal taste; she had never truly enjoyed it and found it left her feeling heavy and unsatisfied. While she continued to consume fish and dairy products for a time, she could no longer ignore the difference it made. Gradually, she embraced a plant-based diet that included whole grains and an abundance of greens. The transition, however, came with its fair share of challenges as the theory met the practical aspects of life. She recalls consuming more potatoes, legumes, and cereals, but less of the nutrient-packed greens, sprouts, and micro-herbs, brimming with antioxidants. Her diet shifted from an abundance of bananas and apples to include berries like blueberries, blackberries, and aronia, all rich in antioxidants. This dietary transformation was nothing short of remarkable; it brought a newfound energy that became a way of life. Today, she thrives in a state of hyper energy, though it initially posed challenges to her sleep routine. This heightened state of alertness allowed her to channel her energy into a personal transformation, dedicating early mornings to self-improvement through learning, reading, researching, and writing.

A Profound Sense of Purpose

Perhaps one of the most remarkable facets of Nevena’s journey is her ability to inspire and empower others. She established a foundation dedicated to guiding individuals on their dietary path, a commitment that extends to the thousands of followers who join her in weekly live Instagram sessions. The impact of these interactions is, at its core, profoundly emotional and undeniably inspiring.

While Nevena’s core values have remained a steadfast foundation in her life, her sense of purpose has undergone a remarkable transformation, growing in strength and depth with every passing day. For her, the most significant wellspring of inspiration comes from the knowledge that her actions positively influence the lives of others. This awareness fuels her with a burning desire to create a lasting and meaningful impact on her community.

She fervently believes in the deep truth that if what she does doesn’t make a real difference in people’s lives and adds genuine meaning, then it’s just not worth it. This is something she feels deep in her soul, and she’s not afraid to say that money alone could never be the driving force behind her unwavering commitment.

A Practical Recipe for All

In conclusion, Nevena leaves us with a practical recipe for a healthier life. It’s not just a diet but a way of living:

  • Embrace plant-based foods; they bring vitality and sustainability to your life.
  • Maintain a regular sleep cycle, avoiding late-night eating and opting for early bedtimes. Your body and mind will thank you.
  • Stay hydrated, drinking at least 2 liters of water daily; it’s the foundation of good health.
  • Enjoy lemons, whether organic or treated to eat the peel, for their rich antioxidant content.
  • Include wild blueberries and blackberries in your diet, for they offer a burst of antioxidants. You can even use frozen berries; the antioxidants remain intact.
  • Don’t shy away from fruit, even if you have diabetes. Moderate your consumption of bananas and oranges, and embrace the healthier options like apples and berries.
  • Steer clear of refined fats, especially when combined with refined sugars, as this combination can lead to degenerative health conditions and diseases.
  • Spend as much time as possible in nature; it’s a natural remedy for many ills. Breathe in the fresh air and connect with the environment. Broccoli, in its micro-plant form, is a superfood you can grow and use in various dishes. It packs 50% more nutrients than its fully-grown counterpart. 
  • There are no excuses, just follow these simple steps, and you’ll experience a remarkable transformation in your daily life.

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