Below is an interview with a Colorado-based Vegan Family, The Polks. They live in the country and practice a holistic lifestyle. Working hard to eat and nourish their two children with the cleanest food possible. Thankfully, living in the health-conscious state of Colorado, they have many vegan options. We learned a lot from the Polks on how to make the lifestyle doable and sustainable.
Interviewing The Polks
Interviewer: Who are we interviewing today?
Jennie: Jennie Polk.
Elliott: I am Elliott Polk.
Interviewer: …And you’re the Polks.
Jennie: We are the Polks.
Interviewer: The whole vegan family?
Elliott: The entire family is here from Colorado.
Interviewer: You have two kids and two dogs.
Elliott: Six chickens. Three cats.
Interviewer: I forgot about the six chickens.
Elliott: A bird. Inside bird.
Interviewer: So those chickens, do they lay eggs?
Elliott: They do not.
Jennie: Not yet. They’re young.
Interviewer: They’re young ones?
Jennie: Yeah, and they’re also silkie chickens. Have you ever heard of them?
Silkie Chickens Kept As Pets
Interviewer: No, I don’t know what a silkie chicken is.
Jennie: It’s a Japanese breed of chicken. They’re funny-looking. They are petite, and they lay eggs that are this big. They are black. They’re not really for eating.
Interviewer: So what do the chickens do on the Polk farm?
Jennie: Whatever they please.
Elliott: They run around like a pack of raptors.
Interviewer: That’s amazing. Okay, so how long have you guys been vegan?
Jennie: Strictly vegan for probably four or five months. But we’ve been vegetarian for close to four years.
Interviewer: How old are the kids? Because I’m curious how long they’ve been…are they vegan by way of default?
Jennie: Julius is five and a half, and Setter’s almost three. Setter has never had meat before, and Julius has maybe…
Elliott: The first year of his life.
Jennie: Just chicken.
Elliott: After, you know, he could start eating solids.
Jennie: He had just chicken now and then. So about a year of poultry, but besides that, he’s never had red meat. But yes, by default.
Interviewer: What do you guys find yourself eating most commonly? What single food do you see yourself just eating the most?
Jennie: For him, it’s carrots.
Elliott: Yeah, I eat a lot of carrots. I eat probably around 6 pounds of carrots a week.
Interviewer: Really? I’m trying to think of how many carrots that is. Is it, like, you go through three carrots at a time?
Elliott: No, I usually pack about a pound of carrots and bring that to work with me.
Jennie: That’s good.
Baby Carrots Vs. Traditional Carrots
Interviewer: How do you feel about baby carrots?
Elliott: I prefer traditional carrots.
Interviewer: I just pictured a grown man with the little baby carrots…the little individual carrot pieces.
Elliott: Baby carrots get processed.
Jennie: Yeah, they’re actually, like, some of them are mashed and then formed into that shape.
Elliott: They get cleaned. They get shaved down.
Interviewer: Subsequently, they get shaved down to make that shape.
Jennie: Yeah, some of them. It depends on what you’re buying.
Elliott: But the baby carrots themselves, you know, they get washed so that there’s no dirt or anything on ’em. You know, the skin gets shaved.
Interviewer: I never thought of it that way.
Elliott: They get made to look pretty. I prefer just a carrot that is packaged right out of the ground. How bad can a carrot be for you? I think it has a lot to do with the process. I mean, you gotta go back to basics, you know? Every animal is designed to eat something. We’re prepared to eat mainly fruits and vegetables, so our body is made to digest that. It’s made to process all the nutrients out of that. So, that’s what we should be eating. Then over the years, we’ve entered all this processed food into our lives.
Jennie: Which is probably where the allergies come from.
Elliott: I think processed foods are why everybody’s dying.
Jennie: It’s, like, cancer…
Jennie: It’s a contributor, for sure.
Interviewer: We are still living a lot longer than we used to. So there’s like a baseline of us living longer.
Jennie: It does, yeah.
Elliott: But once we get to a certain point, we become medical experiments.
Interviewer: As far as pills.
Elliott: Let’s try this pill, let’s try this pill, let’s try this pill. Oh, man, well, you ended up living to 115.
Advice On Living Longer
Interviewer: I love that concept in America of filling your body up with pharmaceuticals so you can live an unhappy life for an extra 35, 40 years. If I was going to die at 60 if I kept eating all this crap, I found a pill that would make me live to 100. I’m just gonna be so sad for all those 40 extra years. Granted that, I would not take the pill.
Elliott: Then that’s another thing if you go back to basics. Humans only live to 60. Maybe that’d help with population control…just naturally, you know, whatever it was. I don’t know. We’re living longer and using our resources faster, and that’s just going down the drain if you ask me.
Jennie: We are also dealing with mass amounts of 24-year-old girls with full-blown ovarian or breast cancer. That’s totally weird and just rising. There’s something that’s causing those problems, for sure.
Interviewer: So, I don’t have any medical training whatsoever.
Elliott: You know, neither do we.
Interviewer: Do you guys get into a lot of tofu and seaweed?
Elliott: We’ve eaten a lot of seaweed.
Jennie: We’re not too into tofu.
Elliott: Not a big fan of tofu.
Jennie: We generally don’t eat a lot of soy, but…
Elliott: We do a lot of the other vegan options. You know, tempeh…
Vegan Milk Alternatives
Elliott: You know, the wheat proteins and other plant proteins. You know, there’s milk, Ripple.
Interviewer: What is it? It’s called “Ripple?”
Elliott: It’s called Ripple. It’s made from…
Jennie: It’s a pea protein.
Elliott: …yellow pea protein.
Interviewer: I don’t know what yellow peat is. It sounds like moss…
Elliott: Pea. Like peas.
Jennie: Peas. Yellow peas.
Interviewer: Oh, yellow peas.
Elliott: Yeah, yellow peas.
Interviewer: I thought you said “peat,” like, “Is that like moss?” And it’s like, we’re making milk from moss. I was like, “What is going on?”
Elliott: But it’s delicious. It’s the best alternative milk there is, I think.
Jennie: Best tasting.
Elliott: Best-tasting, yeah. Best-tasting.
Interviewer: You said something to me when I brought out the walnuts. I made a tray of walnuts, and she’s like, “Okay, we’ll definitely, like, eat those.” It was similar to a comment you made. Do you eat a lot of any particular nuts? Are there any brands that you guys stick with? I guess that is two different questions.
Jennie: Yeah. We very much have a favorite for every type of vegan product. I’d say for milk. It’s Forager cashew milk and all their products.
Interviewer: Do they do cashews?
Jennie: They do.
Interviewer: Because cashews are pretty huge for milk.
Jennie: They have cashew milk, cashew yogurt…what else do they have? They have a whole bunch of stuff. But they also make chips that are just pressed vegetables. I know they have a whole bunch of things…
Elliott: Yeah, they’re pretty good.
Jennie: …that I can’t think of right now, but.
Vegan Family And Their Nut Intake
Elliott: We do eat a lot of nuts, too, yeah.
Jennie: Everything we eat is pretty much made out of nuts. Like…
Elliott: Yeah. A lot of the meat alternatives are all nut-based.
Interviewer: I mean, what are they mainly made of?
Elliott: It’s pretty good for you.
Interviewer: Because I’ve heard that the almond milk business will falter in the next few years. That translates to almond prices going up, making almond milk more expensive. This is due to the water supply, rainfall, etc. So you’re gonna get far fewer almonds. You’re gonna get far more cashew products.
Elliott: Well, what do you mean when you say “water”? Is there gonna be less water for them to use?
Interviewer: Less water for them to grow at the farms that are big on almonds. It’s hard to move an almond field. So macadamia nuts and cashews are gonna increase. Just watch.
Jennie: But those are both great options.
Interviewer: Yeah, they’re gonna overtake almonds in the market. To emphasize, it’s gonna be interesting.
Jennie: The cream cheese on your sandwich that I made is almond. It’s just a cultured almond.
Interviewer: Okay. I love Vegenaise. If I lose my Vegenaise, then I will cry.
Elliott: It was good stuff. Yeah, that company Kite Hill, makes ricotta cheese.
Jennie: Oh, yeah, it’s so good.
Elliott: We made a lasagna.
Elliott: Ah, man, it was perfect.
Joining Online Vegan Groups
Interviewer: Here’s an easy question. Are there any online or physical groups you’re a member of? In detail, the ones that you enjoy and are aligned with being a vegan?
Jennie: Honestly, no. I started a blog and didn’t have time for it. But it was, you know, to unite vegan parents and give them ideas of child-friendly things. But no, I find it hard to relate to many other vegan parents.
Elliott: Well, we were definitely…she’s got friends on social media that…
Jennie: Are vegans, we’re sure, yeah, but…
Elliott: …are vegans. So we get a little bit of outside talk, but no, there’s… All the guys I work with are all, you know…
Interviewer: All meat-eaters?
Elliott: All meat-eaters, yep.
Jennie: We don’t know any vegans we want to see in person. Maybe just, like, Sofia that we saw yesterday.
Interviewer: There would be an underground scene for you to chat with and hold events.
Jennie: There is.
Interviewer: I went to Denver and found some vegan family events in Denver.
Jennie: Oh, there is.
Elliott: Oh, yeah. It’s big, too.
Jennie: You’ll see stickers everywhere and shirts and, yeah. There are socks.
Elliott: Yeah, I go around and in conspicuous places write “Go Vegan.”
Interviewer: Spray-paint, like a stencil.
Elliott: I just sharpie it, usually. It’s, you know, in places that a lot of people don’t go.
Interviewer: I wish I was smart and had some extra, like, “Vegans love nuts” shirts. I wish I had a few extras of those. Is there something you’re working on in your kitchen you’re trying to concoct?
Jennie: Like, as far as a recipe, or…?
Interviewer: Yeah, recipes.
Jennie: Oh, I have tons of them. That’s why I wanted to start my blog. Tons of ’em. Tacos, lasagna, pasta, stew…green chili stew. I have a delicious vegan green chili stew recipe. But I want to start joining into dessert. That’s, like, my… Our goal, honestly, we talk about all the time, like a 10-year goal, would be to have a vegan restaurant or a food truck.
Vegan Family Recipes
Elliott: There are not a lot of options up where we live.
Interviewer: The vegan truck business is substantial. Yeah, the food truck in America is powerful.
Elliott: It’s the big thing now.
Jennie: Especially on the West Or East coast. They have dedicated nights in almost every city where they all go to a park.
Interviewer: People are not afraid of the food truck anymore. It used to be a grimy place to get a blueberry muffin with some butter on it or something.
Jennie: That’s true, yeah. Or some tacos. But I’m trying to venture into the dessert-making side of it. It’s hard to go out and find a vegan dessert. They’re not very available. So I think that that’s a good thing to try to put your foot into.
Elliott: Or it’s always the same thing.
Interviewer: Yeah. Before I got into fruits and nuts, I was into flour. There was always gluten-free flour. It was exciting to see that trend take off. People liked tapioca flour because you can cook with it. It’s more like traditional bread.
Jennie: Yeah, you can use it to thicken things.
Interviewer: Yeah, but then the other things. Like almond flour or nut flour, it’s so hard to find them. It’s so hard to make, like, breading. You know, like when you’re frying something.
Jennie: Almond flour has such a strong taste, you know? Like you can taste it in almost everything, sometimes good or not. But tapioca doesn’t have much of a flavor, which is nice. I think.
Interviewer: Given that, I don’t have any other questions. Is there anything about being a vegan family in Colorado that’s particularly interesting?
Elliott: Grocery stores have plenty of options for vegans up there. We went to the grocery store here, and it’s very, very minimal.
Interviewer: Like more local businesses doing vegan family things?
Jennie: Almost all big brands we use are made in Boulder. We use the Gardein Substitutes. Those are all in Boulder. Yeah, there are a lot more products in Colorado available.
Elliott: Most of it, there’s not a lot that is enormous corporations.
Jennie: No, they’re all little kitchens.
Elliott: They’re all non-profit little kitchens.
Interviewer: Yeah, I like that about Boulder. I like that about all of Colorado, too.
Jennie: Yeah. We do, too.
Elliott: Yeah, it’s nice.
Jennie: But we find it hard to travel, for sure.
Interviewer: Oh, well, Boulder is like the other side of the world from you guys. It’s north, and you live south.
Supermarkets With The Best Vegan Options
Jennie: Well, yeah. I mean, like, outside of Colorado, we pretty much have to grocery shop and then leave because there’s not a lot of vegan options like there are in the stores out there. Like, Smith’s has, you know, a fair amount. But, like, King Soopers, which is the same store in Colorado, has, like, a lot of options. So traveling as a vegan family is a little challenging. There’s also a lot of whole states that don’t have vegan restaurants or, you know, nowhere around where you’re going.
Elliott: We took a trip to Topeka. It was challenging to find the nut milk for our coffee and such. Instead of cow milk is becoming more expensive because, you know, they gotta drink water to produce milk. In order to get that much water for cows is a growing issue for California.
Jennie: Well, they’re in America, and that’s different. We’re not gonna run out of cow milk, babe.
Jennie: There are so many cows.
Interviewer: I don’t know how much we export. Specifically, I don’t know how much cow milk goes out. I understand that the majority of almonds leave America for export. We grow them, and they leave.
Elliott: They do.
Interviewer: America is the number one grower of almonds. We export them all over the world. Plus, they’re growing in interest from people worldwide. Macadamia nuts were started in Hawaii. Farmers moved towards California. Then down into Mexico. Now Macadamia Nuts take on fields that used to be for growing weed. So imagine that. It’s more money to make macadamia nuts than to grow weed.
Elliott: That’s crazy. Yeah, you know, we love the lifestyle. We enjoy the vegan family lifestyle.