Vegan concept store ‘Zdravo’: Food bistro, café and store offering healthy plant-based choices to help ease off stress of fast-paced urban life in Sarajevo

Photo: Vegan concept store ‘Zdravo’/Maja Pilav

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As the global popularity of healthier lifestyles and plant-based diet has grown tremendously over the past decade, ‘Zdravo’ - as the first vegan concept store in the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina - shows that awareness about the need to adopt healthier habits, to tackle everyday challenges of a fast-paced world, is gaining momentum in this country. 

‘Zdravo’ is located at the Miljacka district in Sarajevo, in the Dzemala Bijedica Street 160 F. This concept store is a healthy food bistro and café, an eco-friendly store that offers health-related products including appliances and nutritious food to prepare recipes at home, and a cozy meet-up place with an aesthetically pleasing interior. All items at the store are vegan, which means they do not contain meat, dairy, eggs or honey. Aside from being vegan, the products are also free of unhealthy refined ingredients.  

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Speaking for Pulse.ba, manager and owner of ‘Zdravo’ Maja Pilav said that the idea behind opening a vegan concept store in Sarajevo was to create a pleasant meet-up place and a healthy food oasis to make it possible for people to taste plant-based food in a pure, positive atmosphere - so they can learn for themselves how delicious it is.

Vegan concept store Maja Pilav

Pilav stressed that customers and other interested citizens can participate in workshops and buy everything they need to prepare plant-based recipes at their own home, adding that there are over 100 such recipes on her official website (in Bosnian language).

The store manager emphasized that people should have paid attention to the quality and effects of the food they consume every day, so they could cope more easily with the pressure of a fast-paced life, the burden of stressful situations, and the polluted environment found either in the air of an urban city, or in a closed room with different radiating electric devices.

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Reflecting on a common misconception that all vegan foods are healthy, the store manager explained that vegan foods could also be prepared in an unhealthy way just like any other types of food. Nevertheless, ‘Zdravo’ is fully dedicated to preparing foods based on the whole-food plant-based diet principles.

This store offers food made of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts. We use absolutely no refined products, meaning that there is no refined salt or oil, white sugar, or white flour. Nothing here is fried in oil”, said Pilav.

She confirmed that 95 percent of the items used in the bistro kitchen are naturally gluten-free, and it is possible to prepare nut-free options for customers with allergies.

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‘Zdravo’ organizes workshops on a wide range of topics related to healthy plant-based dietary and other choices that could contribute to living a more joyful life. Workshops of popular healthy life guru Maja Volk, who promotes the benefits of raw food, were recently held at this concept store and marked major success, given that they attracted huge interest of people seeking more information about food and ways to take care of their health.

The store recently hosted a workshop in cooperation with the ‘Sarajevo Food Dictionary’, the guide through the gastro offer of the city of Sarajevo, and is working on organizing similar events soon. The plan is to hold an educational event ‘School of Healthy Food’ on a regular basis as well.

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Modern studies on the relationship of plant-based diets, health and well-being have shown that unprocessed plant-based diet that incorporates a wide variety of foods is nutritionally sufficient, mindful, and ecologically sustainable dietary pattern. Hence, focusing on a more plant-centered lifestyle could help balance out the adverse effects of traditional food patterns of increased animal product consumption or other foods that are limited in fiber but high in fat, cholesterol, and sugars.

At that respect, ‘Zdravo’ is a true breath of fresh, stress-free air for everyone in Sarajevo wanting to take a quick break from the chaos of everyday life, at a time when fresh air and stress-free living are becoming a rarity. Moreover, it is a place for all interested in getting to know a holistic approach to eating and incorporating positive changes into their lives.