Originally from Albania, Leonora, or Leo – as her close friends and family call her, has been calling Toronto home for the last 10 years.

Her Instagram channel is a foodie’s dream for all things plant-based!

She has always had the urge to make changes to her lifestyle but never had the courage to do it. Five years ago, she finally took the leap after watching the documentary, Cowspiracy.

Since then, she decided to launch her Instagram channel to connect with a community that shares a similar passion and interest as hers. Aside from cooking and creating mouth-watering vegan recipes, she’s also committed to sustainable living, ethical fashion, and green beauty.

A glance at her Instagram profile will make you want to rethink your lunch option today and inspire you to be a better citizen of the world.

Leonora has shared with us some of her favourite clean beauty & skincare brands, her top tips on how you too can live a sustainable lifestyle, and advice on her influencer journey.

Keep scrolling for more!

Social:

Instagram Logo - Free social icons

On Insta since:

2016

Instagram Aesthetic:

Bright, Vibrant, Engaging

Category:

Vegan & Sustainable Lifestyle

Number of Campaigns:

28

Favourite app/gadget:

DSLR camera + Lightroom

What do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy cooking. It gives me a chance to be creative in the kitchen and indulge in some ‘play’ time. Food brings people together, and I love creating new and delicious vegan recipes to share with my loved ones.

Also, I’m very fortunate to be living by the lake, so taking long walks in nature can be both relaxing and fun after a busy day. On the weekends, my fiancé and I love exploring new places to eat, especially when it involves tasting the cuisine of countries and cultures we’re unfamiliar with.

Most evenings though we just love to lay back, grab a glass of wine, talk about our day, or watch a movie/documentary.

 

Why did you start @sensibleliving?

Going vegan inspired me to get really creative in the kitchen, so after a year or so, I decided to start an account where I could share my journey towards a healthier and more compassionate life with anyone interested.

Through my Instagram account, I was able to connect with many people from all over the world that are in a similar journey like mine.

I had this strong drive to share a message I felt very passionate about, and to be able to create a community of people with similar values and interests was more than I could have asked for.

What can people do to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?

Use what you have! I am very happy that more and more people are jumping on the sustainability and low waste wagon, however, sometimes we get carried away by a trend and miss the point behind it all.

I see many people (and I am guilty of this too sometimes), that will try to get all the newest eco-friendly products on the market. While I do believe that we should opt for products that are better for the environment, we should first use what we already have on hand.

Also, the tip we all have heard many, many times: ditch plastic. Unfortunately, only 9% of plastic is recycled. That means that a whopping 91% of our plastic waste ends up in landfills or oceans.

I am a firm believer of “every step counts” so even the small changes like bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store, always carrying your own reusable cup/bottle, saying no plastic straws or single-use plates/cutlery, can have a huge impact when done by the vast majority of people. 

What are your thoughts on the effect of the health, wellness, and sustainability movement after the pandemic?

While it’s too early to project the long term impacts of COVID-19, we are already feeling its effects in all aspects of life. I will start by saying that the lockdown has led to some positive effects on the ecosystem.

We all have seen reports of air pollution going down considerably since the start of the pandemic. However, the spread of COVID-19 has had many of us revert back to single-use material in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Also, the pandemic has required many sustainability and waste-reduction initiatives to be put on hold.

One of the biggest impacts has been on people’s health and wellbeing. This Pandemic put us all on an unprecedented reality and no one was prepared to cope with it for such a long period of time.

The three-month-long lockdown affected people physically, psychologically, and socially and the consequences are expected to be long-lasting. I was happy to see so many people in the health and wellness movement giving great recommendations on how to take care of our physical and more importantly mental health during the lockdown.

However, lack of physical activity had its own impact on all of us. That, together with the confusion, fear, and uncertainty around the pandemic have had a bad impact on our overall wellbeing.

How did you first start promoting products/services on Instagram?

I’ve always shared brands and products that I genuinely liked, without being sponsored or paid for it. Simply because I liked the product and I wanted to share my recommendations with my audience.

And as I built a community that trusted me, I accepted to work only with brands that shared the same values as myself and always made sure that these are products I myself have used or will use in the future.  

What has been your favourite experience as a content creator?

First of all, connecting with so many like-minded people from all over the world has been one of the greatest experiences.

However, I must say that the whole process of getting creative in the kitchen and coming up with new recipes, styling the food, photographing it and then seeing how my audience react to it, it’s definitely very rewarding.

How did you build the following community you have now?

I had a strong drive to share a message I felt very passionate about, and to be able to create a community of people with similar values and interests was more than I could have asked for. I poured all my free time and growing knowledge around food and nutrition into creating content that would provide value to those following me.

What type of content generates the most engagement with your followers?

People seem to love vegan recipes. I usually opt for very easy, but healthy and delicious recipes as I understand most people do not have the time, nor the resources to cook very complicatedly time-consuming meals.

Also, I always get a good response when I decide to show my raw and vulnerable side and talk about things we all think and feel, but don’t feel comfortable sharing.

What advice would you give to Instagrammers that want to tap into this industry?

Just go for it! As Margaret Atwood said: “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Don’t overthink it or wait until you have all the necessary gadgets. Start with what you have and build your way up. Most phones these days have incredible camera quality, and as much as people love well-curated feeds and high-quality photos, they will always stick to accounts that can add value to their lives, that they can relate to and that seem fun and authentic.

Also, don’t compare yourself to other, bigger accounts. Comparison is truly the thief of joy. We are all on our individual journeys and have our own unique value to add to this world. Be consistent and just have fun with it.

What are some challenges you have faced as a nano-influencer?

Brands often overlook small accounts based on the number of followers. However, I believe that accounts that have a smaller but more niche and loyal following will drive more meaningful, promising engagement.

Also, time management can be a challenge. Between my full-time corporate job, nutrition classes, content creation, and now the planning of a 100% vegan and eco-friendly wedding, it can be overwhelming at times.

Do you have some new projects in the works you would like to share?

I have been working on my soon to be launched blog. I am very excited to have another platform where I can share my healthy plant-based recipes, eco-friendly tips and swaps, ethical fashion brands, clean beauty finds, and my overall journey towards and more sustainable lifestyle.

Do you want to continue with influencer marketing 5 years from now? If so, what do you want to have accomplished?

I do not know how relevant Instagram will be in 5 years, but I am sure I will always try to bring awareness to and talk about the topics I am passionate about, like sustainability, minimalism, nutrition, ethical fashion, and veganism.

With my blog launching soon, I will have one more platform to connect to other like-minded people, so I can see myself getting more serious with it.

I want Sensible Living to be an online space where my audience can learn about health, nutrition, and wellness in ways that is inspiring and helpful to them.

When I first went vegan, I was worried about my protein intake, B12, Iron, Omega 3, and many other things.

After having received my certificate in Health and Nutrition, I want to now be a source of information for people with those kinds of questions. Down the line, I’d also love to create an e-book with quick, easy, and delicious plant-based recipes.

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