A Day in the Life of a Vegan: Meet Lisa

Lisa Ward

Name: Lisa Ward

Where do you live? Chicago

How long have you been vegan? Since about 2002 or 2003 (I was vegetarian before that).

What’s the best part of being vegan? Feeling great and knowing I am living as compassionately as possible.

Wake up: 4:15 AM

Morning Chores/Activities: Fed the cats and dog, scooped the boxes, swept the floor, watered all the balcony plants and got a pot of coffee rolling. Checked/managed email for a few minutes then changed clothes and went out for a 3 mile run—gorgeous weather today. Came back in and woke up my husband, Joe, then walked our little dog. Grabbed 15 minutes with Joe out on the balcony with coffee, then came back in to make the bed and change into a dry shirt and shorts for my bike commute to work.

I’m on the road by 6:45. Part of my commute includes the Kinzie street cycle track, which is the most awesome thing ever for bikers in Chicago—it goes along Kinzie between Milwaukee and Wells, and it’s a completely protected bike lane. Today I was riding behind another bike commuter, a lady fully dressed for work in skirt, tights, cute jacket, with a satchel slung over one shoulder. All of this while on a road bike (and wearing Birkenstock sandals). Seeing her makes me grateful that I have a nice shower room at work so I don’t have to commute in work clothes! Roll into my building and put my bike in the bike room, then head upstairs for a quick shower, then arrive to my desk by 7:30.

It’s Monday, so I write up a “Green Tip”. Each Monday, a different person from my office brings in some sort of breakfast treat—I am them person who sends out the announcement of who brought what, and since I am also the leader of the office Green Team, I always include a Green Tip with the announcement. This week’s tip is a suggestion for how to replace traditional bleach with a greener alternative.

Lisa’s Green Tip

Try a Green alternative to household bleach—fumes from bleach contain high concentrations of chlorine, which can irritate the lungs, especially if you are using it in a smaller room without a lot of ventilation, like a bathroom or laundry room. It is also really corrosive. A great, green alternative is Seaside Naturals Bleach Alternative, which uses sodium perborate instead of chlorine to naturally whiten clothing and surfaces. Check it out here.

Breakfast:  Today I brought a container of pre-cut mixed fruit—pineapple and blueberries, yum.

Morning activity: The morning is comprised of a bunch of conference calls and meetings, but I have lunch to look forward to. I am going to Bombay Spice (vegan-friendly!) with my great friend Barb, a colleague from work.

Lunch: Barb and I go to Bombay Spice — I get the mixed vegetables Vindaloo, and she gets the veggie flatbread—delicious!

Winnie needs a home. Plus, foster homes needed in Chicago. Click photo for more info.

My afternoon is pretty much the same as my morning — meetings, calls, and research on a big project which I had thought was in good shape but which has taken a completely different direction just as of this afternoon — never a dull moment.

After work I need to make a house call, to a cat in Bucktown; this is for a foster-based cat placement program I help to run called Feline Friends Chicago. We pull cats from high-kill animal control facilities (where they would otherwise be euthanized) and put them in temporary foster homes until we can place them permanently. We’re a small group with limited resources, so we have to spend our money wisely — one of the ways we conserve funds is me making house calls to give the kitties their booster vaccinations (instead of sending them to our vet, who does give us a discount but still has to charge something for vaccinating). Additionally, a lot of our fosters don’t have cars, so sending kitties to the vet for any reason means we have to arrange transport for them, which is very difficult. It’s much easier for me to visit the foster home and just do the vaccine there. I hop onto Milwaukee Avenue and join up with “the peloton”, as I call it. Look no further than Milwaukee Avenue to see how many people commute by bike these days; it’s a major bike artery from downtown to the north/west side and there are sometimes more bikers than there are cars! Riding on Milwaukee always gives me a laugh — I am usually surrounded by hipsters on “fixies”, most wearing footwear entirely inappropriate for biking and of course, no helmets (oh to be 25 years old and immortal again). It’s really windy today so I have a few Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West moments on my bike, but all is well, the kitty gets his vaccine, and I head home.

I get home from vaccinating the kitty at about 7PM; thankfully my husband Joe is home this week so he has fed the cats and walked the dog (he usually travels M-F which means when I get home in the evening the chores are all on me). I scoop the boxes, sweep the floor and check email; once I’ve answered a few urgent work messages that came in while I was out vaccinating, it’s finally time for dinner.

Dinner:  I have a very large bowl of some wonderful gazpacho I made over the weekend, with two slices of delicious whole grain bread. I know a lot of people do a very elaborate gazpacho, but mine is super simple—chopped tomatoes, peeled cucumbers,  a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, a few slices of whole grain bread and just a dash of olive oil. Throw it all in the food processor, let it blend until smooth and voila!

Evening activity: After dinner I spend about an hour on that work project from this afternoon. There will still be more to do tomorrow on it, unfortunately. Then I watch a DVR’d episode of Jeopardy, and pretty soon it’s time to set up the coffee for tomorrow morning, fold a couple of loads of laundry, and head off to bed so I can do it all over again tomorrow.

Lights out:  9:45 PM

Lisa's Pets

Favorite Cause/Current Project: Feline Friends Chicago is the cat placement program I co-founded.

Favorite animal or vegan book? Hmmm…there are so many. Black Beauty and Charlotte’s Web started it all, in terms of understanding that animals are sentient beings, when I was about 7 years old.

Favorite animal or vegan movie? The early influences were clearly Bambi and Lady and The Tramp (think about the scene in LATT where all the dogs are in the pound, sorrowfully howling, and one of them tells Lady that when they go down the long hallway that means it’s “curtains” for them — I was about four years old when I saw the movie and that scene is still imprinted on my brain). Present day — The Cove and Forks Over Knives.

What else do you want people to know? That being vegan is EASY!!!!!!

If you would like to participate in the Day in the Life Series, email Christine at itseasybeingvegan@gmail.com.