Interview with a vegan: Lisa Congdon! »
Lisa Congdon is a talent to be reckoned with. And by reckoned with, we mean PURCHASE EVERY PIECE OF ART SHE’S EVER MADE. Seriously, this lady is crazy-talented. My favorite pieces change moment to moment, but I’m currently lusting after this finch and "Brave Bear" (OMG I LOVE YOU BRAVE BEAR). Actually, I’ll just take one of each, please!
Lisa has lived in SF for 20 years. She is a woman entrepreneur (love) and co-owner of Rare Device, an art gallery and store that sells everything awesome and good (if you haven’t been, you are a fool who is missing out!). We love crafty vegans because they make the world a prettier place and can also design and paint stuff for the rest of us when we need it. You never know when you’re going to want a watercolor of yourself hugging a baby hippo in outer space. Actually, you probably want that right now, huh? Anyway, follow Lisa on twitter and buy everything in her Etsy store and visit Rare Device and be really happy that such a rad chick is vegan!
Vegansaurus: Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Lisa Congdon: All three.
V: How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
LC: I have been a vegan for about two years. I had been thinking a lot about becoming a vegan for a long time, but when I did it, I did it pretty much “cold turkey,” as opposed to weaning myself off stuff over time. It’s sort of funny how it finally happened. My partner and I were visiting my family in Portland. We all love to eat, and we had this really gluttonous weekend of gorging on food, which included a lot of rich cheese. That Sunday we were at the airport for our return flight and we felt horrible and gross from eating so much crap. We went into the bookstore in the airport and we saw Skinny Bitch on the table. A friend had told me about it, so we bought it. We dove into it right away right there in the airport and read it together. We finished it before we got back to San Francisco (love the book, but it’s the Reader’s Digest version of “why be a vegan”). That same week I went a little heavier and read the The China Study and, we also went to see Food, Inc. That movie sealed the deal, and we both became vegan that same week. We’ve continued to educate ourselves as much as we can about the benefits—health, humane, environmental—of eating a plant-based diet, and feel like it was one of the most important choices I have ever made in my life.
V: What’s the best part of being vegan?
LC: There are so many amazing things. I’ve never felt so good in my life, both physically and mentally. I have far more energy than I’ve ever had, which is scary because I have always been pretty energetic. I sleep better, I never feel sick after eating—except maybe after I have the potatoes at Gracias Madre, which are completely naughty. I also feel good about causing less harm to other living creatures and the environment. I revere animals, and now I feel like I walk the talk. I can be more like Ellen DeGeneres, who is my personal hero. Oh, and I have become a mean vegan chef.
V: Do you have any companion animals? Where are they from?
LC: I sure do. First off, I have Barry and Margaret, my cats. I got them about five years ago at the SPCA. Margaret is secretary of the house. She makes sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to and if you aren’t, she lets you know. Barry lives a less stressful existence, mostly staring out the window onto the action on Capp Street from our apartment. [Ed. SO CUTE! Also, Vegansaurus HQ used to be on Capp! Perhaps Hazel barked at Barry and Margaret in your window at some point!}
Then there is Wilfredo. Wilfredo is a chihuahua I rescued from Wonder Dog Rescue about three years ago. He’s three and a half, and he’s a very good, sweet, gentle, loving boy. He’s just the kindest dog you’ve ever met, and very cuddly and amazingly loving. He’s got a really wonderful, distinct personality and beautiful green eyes. Unlike many chihuahuas, he loves people, even strangers. And he doesn’t bark, which is also pretty ridiculously amazing. Wilfredo and I will be featured on the The Bold Italic’s upcoming Pet Week [Ed.: It’s THIS WEEK and culminates in an awesome party on Saturday night at The Women’s Building in SF! The party will benefit Rocket Dog Rescue and there will be all sorts of vegan food there, including cupcakes from Fat Bottom Bakery and Sugar Beat Sweets, cookies from Eat Pastry, and VEGAN SANDWICHES FROM IKE’S PLACE! Plus, vegan chili and cornbread and BINGO and a pet fair and awesomeness! COME!]!
V: What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
LC: Oh geez, I HATE this question. It’s a toss-up between dogs, horses, goats, and sheep. Although this summer I visited the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen and I really must say I have a thing for pigs. And cows. Someday I want to have a barn.
V: Does being vegan affect your art? If so, how?
LC: Not really; my subject matter hasn’t changed too much since I became vegan. That said, I make the bulk of my living doing illustration work, and I did turn down a high-profile illustration job recently—it was for a cookbook—because they wanted me to draw diagrams of animals about to go to slaughter, with the cuts of meat and the like. I said I wouldn’t do it and told them why—as professionally as possible, of course. I lost the job and I have no regrets.
V: You have lots of art with animals in it; do you have a favorite?
LC: I think my favorite animal painting I’ve ever made is the "Mountain Goat".
V: What’s your favorite vegan cookbook?
LC: That’s another hard question! It’s a toss up between Veganomicon for basics, The Conscious Cook for fancier recipes—such amazing concoctions in there and I do like Gardein a lot—and Vegan Table for awesome seasonal recipes.
V: Favorite vegan restaurant? Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant?
LC: Gracias Madre. I am not sure what I ever did without it. It’s also rad—and dangerous—that it’s around the corner from where I live. And my favorite dish is their naughty Papas al Horno, potatoes with cashew nacho cheese sauce!!!
V: Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
LC: All 11 of you? ;) [Ed.: YES! God!]
Thanks, Lisa! You’re the most amazing and we are officially in love with you. Check out our other Vegansaurus interviews and apply to be interviewed YOURSELF! Just email and we’ll totally interview your fascinating ass.
[Lisa’s amazing portrait of Wilfredo is above; all photos and art in this post by Lisa!]