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 the cleanest food possible. Thankfully, living in the health-conscious state of Colorado, they have many vegan options available to them. 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 family?
Elliott: The whole 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?
Interviewer: No, I don’t know what a silkie chicken is.
Jennie: It’s a Japanese breed of chicken. They’re really funny-looking. They are petite and they lay eggs that are like 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 for?
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, sort of?
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 every now and then. So about a year of poultry, but other than that, he’s never had red meat. But yes by default.
Interviewer: What do you guys find yourself eating most commonly? Like, what single food do you find yourself just eating the most of?
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 just 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.
Interviewer: How do you feel about baby carrots?
Elliott: I prefer traditional carrots.
Interviewer: I just pictured a grown man just, 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: 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. You know, we’re designed 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, you know, we’ve entered all this processed food into our lives.
Jennie: Which is probably where the allergies really come from.
Elliott: I’m thinking the processed foods is why everybody’s dying.
Jennie: It’s, like, the 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, basically, you know, 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.
Interviewer: I guess 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. I was going to die at 60 if I kept eating all this crap, but, then I found a pill that’s gonna make me live to 100. I’m just gonna be so sad for all those 40 extra years.
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, we’re 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 that have full-blown ovarian cancer or breast cancer. That’s totally weird and just rising. There’s something that’s causing those problems, for sure.
Interviewer: So, yeah, I don’t have any medical training whatsoever.
Elliott: You know, neither do we, obviously.
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 don’t eat a lot of soy in general, but…
Elliott: We do a lot of the other vegan options. You know, tempeh…
Elliott: You know, the wheat proteins and other plant proteins. You know, there’s a 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 a 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.
Elliott: Best-tasting, yeah. Best-tasting.
Interviewer: I remember you said something to me when I brought out the walnuts. I made, like, a tray of walnuts and she’s like, “Okay, we’ll definitely, like, eat those.” 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 of every type of vegan product. I’d say for milk it’s Forager cashew milk and all their products.
Interviewer: Do they just 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 stuff…
Elliott: Yeah, they’re pretty good.
Jennie: …that I just can’t think of right now, but.
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 the meat alternatives are all nut-based.
Interviewer: I mean, what are they mostly made of?
Elliott: It’s pretty good for you.
Interviewer: Because what I’ve heard is that the almond milk business is going to falter in the next few years. That translates to almond prices going up making almond milk more expensive. This is due to supply and water and rainfall and all that stuff. So you’re gonna get far less almonds. You’re gonna get far more cashew products.
Elliott: Well, when you say “water,” what do you mean? There’s 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 kind of hard to move an almond field. So macadamia nuts and cashews are gonna increase. Just you watch.
Jennie: But those are both great options.
Interviewer: Yeah, they’re gonna overtake almonds in the market. 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 loose my Vegenaise then I will cry.
Elliott: It was good stuff. Yeah, that company Kite Hill, they make a ricotta cheese.
Jennie: Oh, yeah, it’s so good.
Elliott: We made a lasagna.
Elliott: Ah, man, it was perfect.
Interviewer: Here’s an easy question. Are there any online groups or even physical groups that you’re members of that are aligned with being a vegan?
Jennie: Honestly, no. I started a blog and then I just don’t have time for it. But it was just, you know, to, like, unite vegan parents pretty much and give them ideas of things that are child-friendly. But no, I kind of find it hard to relate to a lot of 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 it’s a little bit outside talk we get, but no, there’s… All the guys I work with are all, you know…
Interviewer: All meat-eaters?
Elliott: All meat-eaters, yep.
Jennie: Personally, we really don’t know any vegans that we would, like, see in person. Maybe just, like, Sofia that we saw yesterday.
Interviewer: I just feel like there would be an underground scene for you to chat with and hold events.
Jennie: There definitely is.
Interviewer: I went to Denver and found some vegan events in Denver.
Jennie: Oh, there definitely is.
Elliott: Oh, yeah. It’s big, too.
Jennie: You’ll see stickers everywhere and shirts and, yeah. There’s 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 I had some of those extra, like, “Vegans love nuts” shirts. I wish I had a few extra 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 really good vegan green chili stew recipe. But I wanna 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.
Elliott: There’s not a lot of options up where we live.
Interviewer: The vegan truck is strong. Yeah, the food truck in America is really strong.
Elliott: It’s the big thing now.
Jennie: Especially on the West Or East coast. They have dedicated nights in almost every city where all of them 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 definitely trying to venture into the dessert-making side of it. It’s hard to go out and just find a vegan dessert. They’re not very available. So I think that that’s a good thing to try to, like, 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 really interesting to see that trend take off. People really 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 flours, 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 to it, you know? Like you can really taste it in almost everything, which is sometimes good and sometimes not. But tapioca doesn’t have much of a flavor, which is nice. I think.
Interviewer: I guess I don’t have any other questions. Is there anything about being a vegan 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 things?
Jennie: Almost all of the big brands that we use are made in Boulder. We use the Gardein Substitutes. Those are all in Boulder. Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more products in Colorado available.
Elliott: Most of it, there’s not a lot that are huge 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.
Jennie: Well, yeah. I mean, like, outside of Colorado we pretty much have to grocery shop and then leave because there’s just 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 hard. There’s also a lot of, like, whole states that don’t have vegan restaurants or, you know, nowhere anywhere around where you’re going.
Elliott: We took a trip to Topeka. We found that it was difficult to find the nut milk for our coffee and such. But, cow milk will become more expensive because, you know, they gotta drink water to produce milk.
Jennie: Well, they’re in America and that’s a different thing. We’re not gonna run out of cow milk, babe.
Jennie: There’s so many cows.
Interviewer: I don’t know how much we export. I don’t know how much cow milk goes out, but I know that, almonds leave America for export. We grow them and they leave.
Elliott: They do.
Interviewer: American is the number one grower of almonds. We definitely export them all over the world. Plus, there growing in interest for 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 just 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 really enjoy the vegan family lifestyle.