For our 27th interview, we chatted to Veronica; the founder of The Fresh Issue. Veronica gives us the lo-down into her fantastic childhood and the experiences that helped shape her views today. Creating an online magazine dedicated to eco and sustainable living she helps show how easy it is to live in a more conscious and caring way!
Hi Veronica! Tell us a bit about your childhood and background and how you feel that has influenced you?
I was born in Russia and lived there for the first nine years of my life. The most part of that time I’ve lived outside the city. My grandparents had a house (a dacha) with a huge garden where everything was organic, the air was so fresh and it was so wild! Playing outside, swimming in the river, climbing cherry trees and digging potatoes. I loved to connect with nature and appreciated every little thing about it. I actually was a bit of a tomboy.
Growing up in Russia I had a dog and cats. Our dog, Dozor ( it literally means “patrol”) a big, snow-white albino with 6 toes on every paw, made me once realise just how smart animals are. One day, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was playing with him and felt like hugging him. And I did. But I didn’t realise how strong I held him and all of sudden he bites me in the face! I looked at him and I realised that I had no pain, not even a little scratch, nothing! Just a little scare at the moment. That’s when I realised that it was his way of saying “hey, you’re suffocating me”. It amazed me that a big dog like him knew exactly how gently he had to be in order not to hurt me. Animals are the most incredible, intelligent species.
In 1999 I moved to The Netherlands together with my mother. The integration process went really smooth, I felt welcome instantly! I’m so grateful to my mum for putting me in a Dutch school. It made me adapt much faster, and after only 6 months I could already speak their language! After two years in The Netherlands, we moved to Belgium. And again, not even for a second did I feel like an outsider. New place, new culture, new people, I was excited! I believe that the move to Europe, and within Europe, at a very young age, has granted me with the ability to adapt very fast to a new environment, be open and social, get the feel of different cultures and traditions. I’m very glad my mother has given me that opportunity.
Are you vegan and tell us a bit about how you live?
I’m not 100% vegan, no. I have eliminated red meat and poultry from my diet completely. Dairy milk is out of my diet completely. Fashion-wise, I’m purchasing non-leather goods and I’m researching brands that make vegan items. I’m open to vintage leather because I believe that something existing is much better for the environment than “freshly made”.
For me, it’s started with “The Fast Food Nation”. Very interesting, eye opening book on the fast food industry on how it all started, how it evolved and how it has changed the society. It also, very explicitly, tells where all the ingredients come from and how they are sourced. It revealed to me how inhumane, disgusting and horrifying the fast food industry is. I literally cried while reading. Since then I’ve never ever entered a fast food joint ever again.
Then, one day I was switching channels and suddenly I see something that looked like secret footage, I saw a farm and pigs. I kept watching. And then the horror started. The abuse, the tiny cages, the pigs were treated as if they were objects. That was the day I realised that it’s not only the fast food industry, it’s also the meat industry in general that hides sickening practices. And ever since, it’s as if everything I touch comes from a place of misery. Meat, eggs, milk, even the wool!
It’s absolutely terrifying that we as a society have come to this point where we treat living beings as if they are nothing but our possession and have no feelings whatsoever. I just no longer want to be a part of that.
Once you made these discoveries how did it feel implementing the change?
I live perfectly fine without meat. I feel great. And I look forward to learning new recipes! I do get comments from time to time, but it’s something that I just have to deal with.
Fashion-wise it a little more difficult because the shoe- and bag- market is dominated with leather. And it all looks gorgeous and tempting, for sure. However it’s not impossible and the more I research, the more alternatives I find. So I’m very enthusiastic about it.
What made you start up The Fresh Issue?
When I had to make a choice what to study after high school, I actually wanted to do either journalism or communications. But I wasn’t too sure, somehow I was insecure about where it could take me and it seemed like not the safest choice. Eventually, I chose Economics.
The idea of starting a blog has been with me for over 2 years now. I realised that there was a platform that enabled me to write and to be creative without having a diploma in Journalism. The possibilities are endless and I could choose what to write about myself. And then about half a year ago I finally had chosen what I wanted to write about, I found my theme, my passion and that was the real beginning of TFI.
Can you tell our readers a bit about what makes The Fresh Issue different?
TFI is about leading a smart and balanced lifestyle. Skincare, fashion and travel. It’s a place where “Green Juice Mondays” meet “Champagne Breakfast Sundays”. TFI informs and inspires. TFI is humorous and sassy. TFI is about choosing better and enjoying life while searching for the best alternatives! It’s like a best friend who’s not afraid to tell you the truth and is not afraid to say that nobody, not even herself, is perfect. And the most important, TFI respects nature and animals.
What first sparked your interest in leading more of a sustainable lifestyle?
I can’t remember a day that I wasn’t leading a sustainable lifestyle. It’s something that came along with my upbringing. My mother was always about healthy food, sports, high-quality clothing and treating everything and everyone with respect. So we’ve actually been leading a sustainable lifestyle all along. The only thing that has changed is that we now need to research places we shop for food, clothing we buy and makeup we wear. Because all is presented tasty, sparkly and glamorous but we have realised that it’s not always the case when it comes to sourcing and production.
What is it like living a more sustainable and plant-based lifestyle where you live?
Every morning when we go to the office we pass a slaughter house and almost every day I see trucks with pigs driving there. It’s torture for me to be honest. Northern Italy has a lot of those I’ve noticed. And there’s a lot of those trucks that pass by each day. The only thing I can do at that moment is hope that they have lived a good life, and are very, very old.
For the rest, Italy has a huge variety of pasta, vegetables and fruits! There’s definitely a life after meat!
Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?
The uprising of media, smartphones and social media has enabled us to share information easier and faster than ever before. Videos and pictures can go viral in just a few hours! We’re becoming more and more exposed to information because we’re so connected with each other and spend an enormous amount of time online. And I guess that just like with me, a lot of people have become aware of the horrific practices in the meat and fashion industry because of that.
Vegetarians and vegans are people who want to bring back balance in life. The balance that is lost because of mass production of everything! Everything must be available to us fast, cheap and in huge varieties. And you’d think that behind every label, every brand there are people who do business properly, who make the right choices. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.
It’s not easy being a vegan in a world that is dominated by meat, leather and other animal by-products. And that is why I have a huge amount of respect for people who lead a vegetarian or a vegan lifestyle!
Do you think people are more aware of sustainability these days and why?
Awareness is rising yes. Every day we get confronted with sad facts about global warming and climate change, the evidence is everywhere. Through television, through newspapers, through social media. It’s getting more real and moves much faster than we first thought, so the heat is on. There’s no way avoiding it anymore. And I believe that people don’t want to see all the beauty to get destroyed. But awareness alone is not enough, people have to take action too.
What inspires you?
There’s so much that inspires me. I’m inspired by my dogs and the love I have for them and animals in general. I’m inspired by people like Stella McCartney, who is so unique in what she’s doing, it amazes me! I’m inspired by nature. By my mother who has been through so much and doesn’t let that affect her or stop her from going forward and enjoying life. The woman is truly stunning, it’s her 45th birthday next month and she still looks like 28! #Goals!
People like Nick Vujicic, he is incredible! The day I saw an interview him I was blown away. He made me realise that everything is possible if you want it and you’re not afraid of the work and making an effort!
And so many others. Inspiration is truly everywhere, you just have to be open to it and let it in!
What’s your average day like? From the time you get up to how you break up your day and when you go to bed.
I start my day with snoozing. A few times. Then, very slowly, I return back to the land of the living. My boyfriend is an angel who provides me with coffee to make that journey a little smoother. Once I feel caffeine rushing through my veins, I become human and active! Then it’s time for the usual: shower, makeup, hairdo and dressing up! We’re not really big on breakfast, so usually I’ll make a protein/banana smoothie to start the day. And then we’re out the door and head to the office. Sometimes we make a pit stop at our local organic store to buy food and snacks for lunch and in between. Once we’re in the office, it’s all about work, work, work. And before we’ve realised it, it’s 7 or 8pm and it’s time to go home. Time flies when you do what you love! At that point we decide if we want to go out for dinner or stay at home. Or, if we had really good lunch, we go for a run first. We currently live right next to Lake Garda, there’s no better place to hike or jog!
During dinner, we put on some movie or NBA (love it!) if there’s a game that day and just enjoy. We never go sleep earlier than 11 pm.
Breaking up the day is something we struggle with a little. At least I am. So last week I bought us both a Productivity Planner because it only gets more and more hectic each day and we need to learn how to plan our days efficiently! Stay tuned!
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Yes, for sure. I think everyone has their own formula for a good work/life balance. My partner and I work long hours these days, but we always feel very connected to each other. Quality time is not an issue with us.
Also, I’m very interested in what he does and he’s super supportive and excited about my projects so we like to talk about our work and exchange ideas. When he travels for work I join him, and that’s great to be able to do, because I can work from anywhere! And we always have time for family and friends. And that’s also something that we live by: if somebody wants to see you or be with you, they will make time, no excuses!
What’s the best part about your job?
The best part is that it doesn’t feel like a job. Having my own web magazine gives me the opportunity to exercise all the things I like: writing, taking photos, editing, researching and be social! I don’t only inform others, I educate myself.
What words do you live by?
“The sky is not the limit, you are!”
What’s next for you?
Continue building up The Fresh Issue, to eventually make it thé destination for sustainable fashion and lifestyle inspiration, effective skincare and travel advise.
And I also have another project going which I will reveal very soon. And if it takes off well next week, I’ll be covering the whole behind-the-scenes story on TFI. I’m very excited about it!
This summer I start learning Italian.
And for the rest: stay happy, motivated and healthy!
We hope you enjoyed our latest interview with Veronica. If you are vegan a brand, blogger or individual and are interested in being interviewed please get in touch via email@example.com.