Thank you Vildana for the design and marketing that changed veganism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ethics, Latest, Project News

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

In the sea of daily obligations, we often forget how fast we have grown as an organization and what we have been through in the past three years.

Vildana Hrnjić is one of the people who has been part of our team since the summer of 2020 and has contributed a lot to VivaBiH with her ideas and work.

Unfortunately, Vildana stops working in our organization in order to devote herself to her other international projects and entrepreneurial ventures.

Although we let her go with a heavy heart, as a sign of gratitude and recognition of her work, we decided to make this article and remember our joint successes together.

How did you become a vegan and why is it important to you?

As a child, I was always empathic towards animals and had to be begged and forced to eat animal flesh. When I went to study in another city, my desire to cut out meat became stronger and I had periods of not eating meat for seven months.

At the age of 23, together with my roommate, I started rescuing stray animals in Banja Luka.

I like to say that two dogs changed my life, Luna and Ajni. I remember playing with them in the apartment, looking at them and wondering how I could love them so much and have a dead animal in the fridge that I was going to eat. Humans have a special bond with their pets and then we say that we love animals. And do we really love them if we eat them? I have been a vegetarian since 2015, and at the end of 2018, I felt the need to eliminate animal products.

I used to believe that veganism is too drastic and that it is enough to just stop eating animals for the rest of your life. Therefore, I am proof that anyone can switch to veganism because when you enter that world, you realize that you are in line with your moral code and that you can live without certain animal products.

Ajni was also the face of our Online Campaign “ISTINA” (eng. “The Truth”) for the International Cube Day in 2020

How did your activism for the rights of all animals start and how did you start to collaborate with VivaBiH?

Rescuing street animals showed me the extent to which even the animals we love are endangered, so imagine how are suffering the ones we consider food and we are blind to their pain.

In the period from 2016-2019. I did a lot of art poster design on various topics such as environmental protection and women’s rights, so my goal was also a series of posters for animals. That series of posters has NOT YET been made, but let’s say that working in VivaBiH and designing our billboard campaigns gave me similar satisfaction.

However, it is important to emphasize that I was not really an animal rights activist before VivaBiH. I somehow gradually felt the need for veganism myself and sometimes I came across a video on Instagram promoting veganism, but I just lived by the principle that I don’t want to cause (intentional) pain to other beings.

Before VivaBiH, I probably couldn’t name three big names in the world of animal rights activism. That knowledge came with my work at VivaBiH and I am happy that my horizons opened there.

Regarding the beginning of the cooperation, the Association of Vegans recognized me as a graphic designer and vegan, and I received an invitation to do the application of the billboard design for the first-ever anti-dairy campaign in our country.

From those billboards, in July 2020, I officially became part of the team. This was followed by a change of logo and name, running Facebook and creating other social networks and promotional material. Then our first events were in Tuzla, Banja Luka and Mostar, and there was a period when we worked only online due to the epidemiological situation. And the rest is VivaBiH history!

What are your favorite projects and campaigns and why?

Faced with these questions, I really went back in time and remembered our smaller and bigger successes.

First of all, I am very proud of the design of the logo and the name VivaBiH. I wanted some positive symbolism and the growth of new life from the map of our country is definitely what we really need.

I love all our billboard campaigns. Of course some more, but I will probably never forget the “Anonimna majka ovca” campaign (eng. “Anonymous Mother Sheep”). For Mother’s Day, I created a series of six visuals with accompanying text and posted them on our social networks. I was really inspired and finished that post easily. Of those six visuals with different animals, meaning mothers with their babies, we put two on billboards during that 2021 year. “Anonymous mother sheep” was the first and caused absolute chaos in the country and the region. We were also exposed to verbal attacks and accusations that we insult Kurban-Bajram, although there is a big difference between a kurban and a lamb on a spit.

In addition to billboards, the whole “IstiNE o MLIJEKU” (eng. wordplay with two meanings: “The Truth about Milk” & “Say NO to Mlik”) campaign is important to me, which had various online posts, billboards and the offline event “Summer Taste of Compassion”. This campaign started from some of my sketches for online posts in order to bring closer all aspects of why not to drink milk, but the comprehensive project was much more complex than the first anti-dairy campaign, so it’s nice also to see that growth in VivaBiH’s approach to projects.

“Prvo istraživanje prehrambenih navika u BiH” (eng. “The first survey of the dietary preferences in Bosnia and Herzegovina”) is important to me because it was our biggest project until then and there were many activities in those six months that led to the success of this project. I am satisfied with how everything turned out both visually and in terms of results.

I am glad that I could participate in the development of the “VegOdluka” (eng. Veg Resolution) project. From humble beginnings in January 2021, VegOdluka has grown every year, and I have had the privilege of directly influencing the look of the program website while working with the developer and, through design and marketing to the increased visibility of this monthly plan of vegan recipes.

Similarly, “Zeleni tanjir” (eng. “Green Plate) started modestly from smaller catering facilities that were willing to introduce vegan options in their menus, and now we have behind us hotels in Sarajevo that have undergone our culinary workshops and now have vegan offers. I was glad to brand this project and promote catering facilities, and also to arrange some cooperation and thus directly introduce facilities into this project.

VivaBiH Fest will also remain in my memory because it was the biggest project I worked on in VivaBiH. It was my pleasure to brand this festival and contribute to its content through my presentation, workshop and panel discussion moderation.

There were really many campaigns and projects in these three years. Due to the pandemic, we did a lot of interesting webinars and online panels that I moderated, and last year we did a lot of educational environmental campaigns like “Spasimo mora” (eng. “Save the Seas”), which required a lot of effort. There is also the VivaBiH Activist Group, where we did various performances on the streets of Sarajevo, and I am also glad that we did the “Horrors of KFC” campaign.

One more thing I really have to emphasize is going with my colleague Maria Pehar to the vigil in Novi Sad to support activists from the organization Animal Save Movement. Looking into the eyes of an animal that is going to be slaughtered, and knowing that you can’t save it, is a bit traumatic, but it is very important to sometimes remember why we do this and it gives some new motivation for the promotion of veganism.

Your message for all people who are thinking about becoming vegan and activists?

What I advise everyone is to listen to their inner voice and live according to it. If you are not able to slaughter an animal yourself why are you supporting that by buying it?!

I truly believe that most people really don’t want to eat animals but that the propaganda of these industries has created a disconnection in thinking about what is on the plate and how it got there. We have become apathetic through the generational repetition of cultural habits, but faced with animal suffering, we lose our appetite.

Working at VivaBiH gave me the opportunity to use my design and marketing knowledge and tell another side of veganism. For me, it was activism as much as when you stand in front of a truck and try to save an animal from slaughter. A different approach, but the same goal.

If you want to do animal activism, start from yourself. Be a good example to others of why veganism works and find your own way to contribute to the movement.

Working in this kind of organization gave me the space to use all my talents and I believe that in the future I will also do something related to animal rights in some way. Time will tell.

Some journeys, no matter how good and important, come to an end at some point. Sometimes we have to leave behind the things we care about in order to make room for even better things that await us in life.

We are glad that our Vildana continues to pursue her dreams and we believe that she will forever remain an activist for the rights of all animals. We believe that she will always be engaged in some projects for the benefit of all beings and the environment, and will make changes in the world with their work.

Vildana, thank you for everything you contributed to VivaBiH and that we had the opportunity to grow together as an organization and as people.

We wish you much success in your future endeavors. We don’t want to say “goodbye” because it sounds so final. We only agree to “See you at some of our next events!”


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