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Demetris Nichols in Vegehop: "The Best Results I get on Vegetarian Diet"

Famous American basketball player of Chichago Bulls and New York Knicks, Demetris Nichols, arrived in Croatia 6 months ago, where he is currently playing for KK Cedevita. Since he has arrived in Zagreb, he is our dear permanent guest and we were curious about his diet decisions. In the presence of the owner of the restaurant Vegehop, representatives of Animal Friends and co-worker of Vegehop, Demetrius told us about benefits of vegetarian diet in his professional and private life and his decisions that changed his life.

We conducted the interview in the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of the Vegehop restaurant, where Demetris feels like home.



The owner of the restaurant Vegehop, Dalibor Marić: Dear Demetris, we are pleased that you are here with us. Since being a little boy, you're a great basketball fan and on your way you've made great achievements. What is the situation today? Is basketball still your passion and what drives you on your way? Is this the job you need to go to get income or do you want to go for some other goals?

Demetris: As they say, if you go to work just to go to work, you will never enjoy it. If you look at the job as a hobby, you will always give the best of yourself. That's my job as well. That's my hobby. Of course I enjoy it, basketball is my life for me. It taught me so much, raised me completely. Such as life. Sometimes we lose, we win more often, but that desire constantly pushes us forward to make best versions of ourselves. The basketball teaches me to work as a part of the team, teach me discipline, respect, hard work and enjoyment throughout the process. That's what I still want to do.

Dalibor Marić: Considering you are very successful and well known in your business, I would like to ask you about the decision to change the club. From Chicago Bulls, you went to KK Cedevita, from America to small Croatia. What was the decision for you to move away from abundance and go to the "village"? Is this a "horse to donkey" move?

Demetris: I do not agree. The fact that I'm not in Chicago Bulls does not mean I have no good life, I have no money, I'm not happy. I chose Croatia because I like to travel, change the environment, grow. Every week I travel to another country, meet new cultures and people. If I wanted to stay in America, I would stay there. But there every day is the same. I would not be able to see new things, travel the world in the way I do it now, explore and learn. It's all about perception. Moving to something that seems little to people does not mean that it seems small to me. I am a professional basketball player for ten years and I was everywhere. If I have stayed in America, I would travel through America with the club. But for me that is incomparable with what I have today.



Dalibor Marić: You have played for the Knicks, the Chicago Bulls and various strong American clubs. Did your transition to Europe make life easier? Is there less pressure from coaches, fans, clubs? Is anything different?

Demetris: Everything is different. Every team, every club, every city. Every restaurant, streets, people. The thing is in our own adaptation to a new environment. For two years I lived in Moscow, a year in Greece, two years in France, and now I'm here. As I said, I like to travel and explore, to be with new people. It encourages you to think from a different perspective. Everyone thinks America is the best. The best is where you feel the best. I've been looking this way earlier, but now I'm openminded and I allow myself to explore and learn.

Dalibor Marić: You changed your diet. How long have you been a vegetarian?

Demetris: About two years. I read and research a lot, so I came up with diet informations and decided to apply them to myself. People are writing books, articles, doing researches and filming movies with the goal of education. I said yes, why not? I thought the change would not last long, but I was surprised and cheered. It's not just something I do, but what I am.


Animal Friends: Does your diet change have an ethical background? Do you do that for animal, health? What is the reason?

Demetris: I just want to live a good life, healthier and more fulfilled. I am aware of the tortures that animals are going through to become food, at least the part I have been researching. That's so bad. Horses, chickens, cows, many animals. Every day they are killed because of wrong principles and ignorance all over the world. This is certainly one of my reasons, but first I wanted to feel the benefits of healthy and conscious diet on my skin so I could act wider. Because then it has a firm foundation. Everyone has own reason why has decided to make a change but we are all on the same path. We encourage each other and learn. We do not need to harm anybody on that path. As the years go by, we are getting older. Our body is changing. Perception is also changing. Then we want to ensure what power us. It certainly is not a low-energy "food" full of negative consequences for our body and mind.

Dalibor Marić: What was your transition to healthier?

Demetris: At first, the transition was unusual and awkward because I thought I have to eat more. The body was cleaning of toxins, old habits and patterns. At first I felt hungry, even weak. But that was the process of cleaning and mind and body reprogramming. When I realized this, a change occurred again. Now I can eat little but nutrition, and I have more power and energy than ever before. I play better, it is easier to maintain my body, I live better. I had weight oscillations before, but now it is constant. Also, my skin smells and breathes. Everything is different and much better.

Dalibor Marić: One of our well-known skiers has tested vegetarian diet, but her coach was not satisfied with the results so the media reported that vegetarianism is bad because it did not satisfied sport results. Do you believe that this is true or does it all depend on the person itself?

Demetris: I do not think so. Because everything I heard, read, and applied, turned out to be just the opposite. My personal experience is that this is my best year in my full ten-year career. I play better, I recover faster, I feel better, I sleep better, I have more energy iin general. I believe this is all about perception and decision. People are afraid of changes, so they can not even get the results they want. Once you make the first step firmly, you do not want to go back but just go ahead.

Dalibor Maric: The official most powerful man in the world and our dear guest Patrik Baboumian has been included in the Guinness Book of Records by raising the 550 kg on 10 meters path. He is also vegan and that confirms that the power of decision is actually our strongest power. We have also asked him how much calories he takes per day? So the same question for you. How many calories you enter daily?

Demetris: Well, I do not really count. I'm moving through feeling so I eat when I'm hungry. When I'm not hungry, I do not eat. Very simple. But I did my own research and learned that from so many vegetable sources you can get proteins and all nutrients so my diet is varied and I really enjoy it. Everyone needs to do their own research.

Animal Friends: Do you think your next step is going to be vegan?

Demetris: Well, I do not know. Why not? You never know what your opportunities may be and what you can still learn and apply. I am currently expanding existing knowledge on my wife and daughter.

Animal Friends: The wife and daughter are also vegetarians?

Demetris: The wife is particularly surprised with new diet informations, but she has not yet completely decided to go vegetarian, while on the other hand our daughter quickly decided to get meat and dairy products out of diet. It seem that children are more fully understanding and have no fear of new knowledge and change to better. People love simplicity and sharing of knowledge and experience. Those who do not like it will ask for it someday or do their own research.

Dalibor Maric: One politician, our constant guest, asked us not to convey information that he is vegetarian because he could lose his voice and position. Is that also the case in the sports world? Are vegetarian athletes characterized, discarded, and misunderstood by trainer and team who often have prejudices?

Demetris: Actually, when people ask me, I share my experience. Not that I will wear a shirt with a caption and parade, because I think that I will not reach people as much as I can reach and help with live words and example. When I say I do not eat meat, they ask me more, they are interested. They are interested in everything and also hey see the results. That's the best way to transfer informations and encourage them to do their own research. Everyone has their own attitude that wants to change to better.

Dalibor Maric: What is your cognition of vegetarianism growing in America and world in general?

Demetris: Great growth is in America, especially the western side, where there is plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. On the east side it is smaller, but it is on the rise. As I said, everything is up to information and research. Some need one information and some need more. My mother also threw meat out of her diet. People are changing, absorbing information and wanting to live a healthy and happy life. When the decision is made, everything else flows smoothly.

Dalibor Marić: Now that you are here in Zagreb, you are often in our restaurant. What does Vegehop represents to you?

Demetris: Vegehop is a wonderful place with wonderful food. I am surrounded by wonderful people who share the same values. The soothing zen music adds a special touch. The first few times when I came, I felt a wonderful intimacy and feel it every time I come. Relaxing music, wonderful food and lovely people from Vegehop set me in a special mood, a state of mind where I feel great. Also, it is close to my daughter's school, so Vegehop is my inevitable daily path. There is always a parking place and the location is great.I feel fed, light and healthy after every meal, and the daily menus are perfectly balanced. I like it very much.



Dalibor Marić: You train every day. What do the training looks like and how long do they take, since the games are really intense and risky? Are the injuries frequent?

Demetris: Trainings are also very intense, and that three hours of continuous physical and mental preparation each day can be compared with continuous daily three-hour fast running. Injuries, of course, happen as in any sport. A month ago, a teammate crushed an my eye that got injured and out of position. The recovery process still lasts because the injury was intense, but everything is returning to its place.

Dalibor Marić: Does this mean that the glasses at LA Lakers are not fashion or some trend but really practical protection?

Demetris: Yes, of course.

Dalibor Maric: What is the active sports life of basketball players in professional sports?

Demetris: There is an age limit, but everything is up to your own will, desire and concern for your health. I'm 33 and I'm considered as an older player. I'm the oldest in my team, but I feel, move and achieve better results then younger teammates and athletes. Healthy food balance and active exercise are definitely the key to maintaining and improving your body and mind.

Dalibor Marić: Do you think about the couach position in the near future and the knowledge transfering to the upcoming generations?

Demetris: Sure . I like to teach others and help. Last summer I got a business offer for the coach but I still play, so I was not ready to accept it. I'm grateful that this possibility exists and I'm certainly looking forward to the realization of that part.

Dalibor Maric: Wish you s lot of success in business and in private. Thank you for the conversation and informations we could all learn from a bit. I feel so inspired after this conversation. Good apetite!
Animal Friends: We certainly agree and we will be glad if you to join in our premises.

Demetris: Thank you, I'll be welcome to come. Good apetite!

Editor: Sandra Jančić
Photos: Sandra Jancic, Guliver Images