Jesse Boss is a fifteen-year-old, home schooled student living in San Francisco. She’s been vegan for over a year and shares her experiences in this interview.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I am Caryn Hartglass and you are listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me on the second part of our show today, and I wanted to let you know that you can always send in your comments and questions; anything you want to let me know about at my email address: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll talk to you on the show if you send me a message in the next half hour or I will correspond with you anytime during the week. So there you go, email@example.com, and I have a website http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/ . It is a relatively new non-profit. I invite you all to visit and like us on Facebook, and, there are so many recipes out there. Some people often ask me – Caryn what do you eat? I am having, they’ll say they are a new vegan or they are just trying to eat healthier and they want to know what I eat. I tell them http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/ is the best way to find out what I am eating because I am putting up recipes for I am eating all the time with photographs and there are a lot of great food up there. And the show is “It’s all about food”.
Okay, so I have a very special guest now and this is 15-year-old Jesse Boss and she is a special friend of mine and I am so happy that she decided several years ago to make this life empowering choice to go vegan, and she is visiting me here in NY and she is from San Francisco. So, welcome to “It’s all about food” Jesse.
Jesse Boss: Hi
Caryn Hartglass: So the first thing I want to know before we get into lots of other things is when did you decide to go vegan and why?
Jesse Boss: I have been vegan since May 29th 2010.
Caryn Hartglass: How old are you now?
Jesse Boss: I am 15.
Caryn Hartglass: so you were 14 at that time.
Jesse Boss: I was 14 at that time.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s an important date and you remember it.
Jesse Boss: I remember it because it was the day after my prom to which I memorize the date for.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a good day. Ok, so why did you, what happened?
Jesse Boss: Well, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 9.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, okay.
Jessse: and I was really getting more involved in animal rights and activism and I was feeling kind of hypocritical because I am saying people should go vegan and stop supporting factory farms, but I wasn’t really doing that.
Caryn Hartglass: It is hard for a lot of people, especially with dairy and butter and cheese and ice cream. A lot of people think that we are not killing animals when we eat dairy and yet, unfortunately, today with factory farming the dairy cows have it worse than most other animals and they are pretty horrific these days, but somethings we know is that you can’t get milk unless you make a mammal pregnant; and that means that there is a baby involved and many of those baby calves become veal calves and they are slaughtered at a very early age; and then dairy cows also don’t live very long, they don’t have a natural life because they are made to give lots and lots of milk. So, food for you, that was really very brave and courageous. But I bet some of your friends give you a hard time about it.
Jesse Boss: Yeah they do. (laughs). I still get a lot of – but what about cheese Jesse? Don’t you want to eat cheese?
Caryn Hartglass: And what do you tell them?
Jesse Boss: Not really anymore (smiles).
Caryn Hartglass: What are some of the things that you like to eat as a teenager? Because I know a lot of parents don’t know what to feed their kids.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, my Mom’s pretty good with like vegan food and everything. She’s actually a vegan too, but I was vegan first.
Caryn Hartglass: I love that when parents learn from their children.
Jesse Boss: So we make a lot of like beans and things like that and we have a log of veggie dogs, veggie burger sort of things.
Caryn Hartglass: hmmm, hmmm
Jesse Boss: Kind of quick microwavable normal teenage food.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, teenagers are really particular about what they want to eat and they don’t like to eat a very varied diet and they turn up their nose up to vegetables a lot. Now do you know as a vegan, that you need to eat your vegetables?
Jesse Boss: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: you could be a vegan and just eat potato chips and French fries and drink coke. Are you one of those kinds of vegan?
Jesse Boss: I try very hard not to be (laughter). I am sure sometimes I am, I am still a 15 year old.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay, so you’ve been with me for a few days and what are some of the things that we’ve been having that you enjoyed?
Jesse Boss: We’ve been making lots of food from Caryn’s real meals website, and we made – buckwheat pancakes are really, really good. This fruit syrup stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, we made a compote from strawberries, apples and bananas and that was good.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, the first day I was here, like, half an hour after I walked through the door we’re making veggie black beans burgers or pinto bean burgers
Caryn Hartglass: They were pinto bean burgers, but you could use the same recipe for any bean. And, were they easy to make?
Jesse Boss: Yeah, it was really, really fun and we even made like the buns and everything.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, we made gluten free sesame buns and all of these recipes are on the website. It’s easy. I had fun because you know I make these things up and I write them down, and I have no idea if people are using them or how easy they are to make, so, I kind of use you Jesse to experiment to see and you did a great job.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, I love Caryn’s kitchen, she’s got so many different kinds of everything (laughter) like you look in her fridge and she has billions upon billions of things of different kinds of flour.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Jesse Boss: Like every kind of flour you can imagine and I know she knows exactly what to do with all of them.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s a, well one of the things is I keep a lot of things in the refrigerator that most people keep in their cupboards. So all of my flour are refrigerated because what most people don’t realize is that, once the seed, once the grain is cracked and milled if it is not refrigerated it can go rancid and not only will it not taste good, but it is not good for you. So, all my flours I keep in glass jars because I don’t really like plastic and I keep them in the refrigerator and I do have a lot of them. Do you remember some of the flours that you saw?
Jesse Boss: Buckwheat flour, potato flour, garbanzo flour, rice flour.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s white rice flour, brown rice flour. It’s really fun and when you. I like to say “lift the vail” and see the world outside of a hamburger and French fries. I like to do in addition to being a vegan and to examine the gluten free world. The world without wheat because a lot of people are challenged about eating wheat and I want people to know that you can be a vegan and you can also be gluten free. And I’ve discovered so many flours and they have their own textures and I find it fun but it does take up a lot of space in your refrigerator (laughs).
Jesse Boss: Caryn do you know that you’re not the only gluten free vegan that I know?
Caryn Hartglass: No, how many do you know?
Jesse Boss: Two others.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, my friend Sadie’s mother who has been vegan for 20 years and has Celiac’s and so she is definitely vegan and gluten free.
Caryn Hartglass: Hmmm, what are the things that she makes?
Jesse Boss: I am not entirely sure – I know that they make like vegan gluten free pancakes and all sorts of things.
Caryn Hartglass: So, it’s not hard and I think once you get into it you find that it’s easy and it’s good for you. Okay, so, one of the things we use, we didn’t make it but I topped the burrito with it and that was the cashew cheese.
Jesse Boss: That was really, really, really, really, really good.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, we have a recipe for that too. We like to make batches of it up and mold them in blocks and freeze a lot of it because it freezes really well and then you can use a little bit at a time whenever you need them. But….
Jesse Boss: She’s got them in her freezer. She pulls it out grates them like any other cheese and it works.
Caryn Hartglass: It just works and it melts. Yeah, it is pretty amazing. So you know I just want the world to know that just like (9:15) in the last half hour that it’s not hard, it’s just a shift in perspective and there some work that you have to do- you do have to make things in the kitchen, but, I find it’s fun.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, definitely. I was having a lot of fun cooking with Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Cooking with Caryn – we should make a show like that.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, I seriously do think the hardest part is explaining to other people it’s not like different foods, it’s the hardest part is explaining to other people how it works and how they don’t have to feel bad about not having food for me and I’m used to this sort of thing.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so we spent one day in NYC and we have till later today. We did stop at vegan restaurants Monday night and Tuesday. So what did you think of Cocoa V?
Jesse Boss: That place is amazing
Caryn Hartglass: So Cocoa V is a chocolate, a vegan chocolate and wine bar and it’s owned by the owners of blossom restaurant here in NYC and they have several restaurants. Also Blossom café on upper west side and winos on the upper east side and Blossoms restaurant in Chelsea and Cocoa V.
Jesse Boss: If you can you should go there. (laughter). They have really amazing vegan hot chocolate, everything there is vegan I believe
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Jesse Boss: They have all these beautiful candies with all sorts of different flavors and really, really, really good cupcakes. They have a chocolate vegan cheesecake one that I had that was really, really good.
Caryn Hartglass: And what’s interesting is that the cupcakes aren’t very big and I don’t think they should be big, because they are all made with quality ingredients that have so much flavor. A lot of times people eat a bag of cookies or a big piece of cake because they are not really satisfied because it is not made with quality ingredients. Yeah.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, but this place the hot chocolate and the cupcake you are stuffed, you could not eat anything any more, it was so good.
Caryn Hartglass: So my point is that it’s important to eat healthy most of the time which is lots of green foods which is my favorite and lots of beans and whole grains and vegetables and fresh fruits and you should fill up your day mostly with organic, locally grown healthy plant foods and then when you want to you can have a treat, but those treats too should be made with quality ingredients. A lot of the cookies and cakes today that people buy in the stores or even in the restaurants are made with a lot of manufactured synthesized things that are really dangerous – like high fructose corn syrup that’s in so many – do you ever read the labels of some of these treats?
Jesse Boss: I read the labels of almost everything that I eat.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, lots of salt, lots of strange chemical sounding words, if you don’t know what they are, do not eat them.
Jesse Boss: I was reading the back of a diet Coke or something and I was like – okay that one gives you cancer, that was bad for you, that one gives you cancer too.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so teenagers a lot of them really don’t care about food. You have any ideas of how you get your friends or other teens interested? Because personally I want to know how do we get the younger generation to be more interested in what they put into their bodies.
Jesse Boss: Don’t tell them it’s vegan before you feed it to them.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a very good one. Make it delicious and don’t tell them.
Jesse Boss: Like a lot of my friends say a lot of not so nice things about the food I eat because they don’t know that it’s good.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, here’s a funny thing. Some people say – I don’t want to eat it, if it’s vegan right?
Jesse Boss: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: And yet can we just take a minute and list all the food people eat that is vegan like every fruit apples, oranges.
Jesse Boss: A lot of bread, even a lot of packaged food they don’t realize are vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: …are vegan. Sure people eat vegan food all the time. So there is really nothing to be afraid of. Some people roll their nose at – when we talk about soy. Because soy is tofu and in a lot of really nutritious vegan food.
Jesse Boss: Yeah
Caryn Hartglass: and yet soy is in many, many burgers and animal foods.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, so I explain to people like they are asking me – do you really want to eat all that processed soy and like do you know that the cows you, that you are eating?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, really good. Most people I think don’t realize that most of the soy beans grown in this country now are not only not organic, but they are genetically modified – that is scary; but most of the soy beans almost 80% are fed to animals not people. Most of the soy grown in this country is for animals – animals eat the soy and they are not even meant to eat the soy. Cows are meant to eat green grass and we feed them all kinds of things which makes them very sick and then people eat the cows or other animals and ultimately get what those animals are eating.
Jesse Boss: I sometimes say that I’d rather process the soy bean rather than feed through a cow then process the cow.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) I love that. I’m going to steal that one from you. That’s a good one.
Jesse Boss: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh yes, but there’s a very highly processed soy product – isolated soy protein and people use it in everything not just vegan foods because it’s something that really can do a lot of different things. It can have a really nice texture and you can flavor it up the way you want. It’s in so many different foods. Okay, so we also ate at an Asian restaurant yesterday down in china town.
Jesse Boss: That was a lot of fun.
Caryn Hartglass: What’s fun about that restaurant for me is everything is vegan and they use a lot of meat analogs chicken and beef and they are made from wheat gluten and soy products and it is really amazing what they can do with all those different foods. Okay, but we haven’t had a chance to get your favorite food yet.
Jesse Boss: So, my goal this trip was – I want vegan New York pizza which I’ve not yet had and I totally am going to get it today.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely correct. New York is definitely known for their pizza and there are so many places today that make dairy free pizzas. And what’s funny is, in Italy where I think pizza started, many of the pizzas don’t even have cheese. There’s a lot of focaccia which is like the crust and different toppings and yet so many people equate real pizza with cheese and it’s not true. It’s really just a bread with a great sauce and lots of things you can put on it.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, the first day I was here before we even met up with Caryn, we were walking, me and my Dad were walking through Chelsea market and we stopped at this Italian place and got sort of a pizza without cheese and these really awesome potato things and that was one of the best, probably like one of the best not pizza things I’ve had.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, yeah.
Jesse Boss: Not pizza, maybe more like a vegan pizza.
Caryn Hartglass: More like a focaccia. Yeah, all you need is a really good crust and again I want to bring you back to http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/ our website where we have one of my favorite things – a vegan gluten free pizza and we make the crust from garbanzo flour. I can’t say enough about garbanzo flour – it is so versatile and people have been using it for probably thousands of years and yet in US we are so clueless when it comes to varieties of food. It’s crazy what you can do with it. Okay, so, were there any films or brochures when you first decided to go vegan that really did it for you?
Jesse Boss: Not really. I mostly knew everything. It was more like giving those films and brochures out to people that changed my life, not the material itself.
Caryn Hartglass: Just kind of came naturally to you.
Jesse Boss: And it’s been pretty easy to be vegan since then. It’s not like the major struggle that other people seem to think it is.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s important, can you say that again?
Jesse Boss: It’s not a major struggle to be vegan and you really don’t even miss animal products after a week or so.
Caryn Hartglass: right: now did you feel physically any different when you stopped eating dairy foods? Do you remember?
Jesse Boss: I remember, I was really, really busy right then, so I don’t remember like a change and I still, even though I am a vegan I don’t really eat as healthy as someone like Caryn does.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughter) The culinary cop.
Jesse Boss: Kike I know what junk food is vegan, what brand names in junk food and I eat that.
Caryn Hartglass: Right yeah, well I’m always trying to find ways for kids and adults to eat dark leafy green vegetables and I have to do a little dark leafy green commercial here because you know I have been talking about all these different foods, but I have to remind you all that we were meant to eat primarily dark leafy green vegetables and maybe some fruits and berries, and we get all those powerful immune system boosting nutrients; and when you are feeling like you need some energy and you’re feeling a little cloudy in the head, some people would naturally grab a candy bar or cup of coffee, and what you really need to grab is a big salad or some steamed kale or what I like best, which is a green juice; because that’s the stuff (laughs) Jesse is wrinkling her nose up right now – because that’s the stuff that really feeds our brains, feeds our body gives us energy. How are we going to get people to eat more green foods?
Jesse Boss: Well, when you told my Mom all that, she decided we would have kale everyday. So I guess you are doing a pretty good job.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, but she puts it in a blended salad right? A smoothie?
Jesse Boss: Right, she puts it in a salad, she puts it in a smoothie, she puts it in a tofu scramble, she puts it in banana bread cupcakes – but you don’t taste it.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Yeah you kind of do.
Jesse Boss: She puts kale into every place she can fit it.
Caryn Hartglass: Well that’s a good thing. You’ve got a good mom. You can do lots of things with dark leafy green vegetables and some are more appetizing than others – especially if you are not used to it. I know a lot of people are eating kale chips these days. Dehydrated kale seasoned with some spices and a little sea salt or soy sauce.
Jesse Boss: Yeah, I have had those. I definitely prefer fresh kale to those not quite sure why. I like the texture but a lot times the seasonings are not super, super great.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, well.
Jesse Boss: They’re really fun to make though.
Caryn Hartglass: What’s that? Kale chips?
Jesse Boss: Yeah, the kale chips.
Caryn Hartglass: How do you make them?
Jesse Boss: Well, I’ve only ever made them at other people’s houses; because we don’t have a dehydrator. Basically we pulled the kale into bits, mixed it in spices and put into a dehydrator for a little while.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, you can do that in an oven at a very low temperature too. Some ovens; I am embarrassed to say, I recently discovered that the oven I have had for over 10 years has a dehydrator option on it and I didn’t even know. But some ovens are able to operate at very low temperatures. So get to know your oven, get to know your kitchen and eat greens – eat your greens. Ok so we have a few minutes left and I’m wondering what it is – do you have any, any other vegan stories that you want to share?
Jesse Boss: hmmmm
Caryn Hartglass: When you go to a party or something, are there things that you bring?
Jesse Boss: Dessert, vegan dessert that I know is good.
Caryn Hartglass: What do you make?
Jesse Boss: I remember I used to say – oh no vegan dessert doesn’t taste good and I don’t like it. Then I actually started making my own vegan desserts and being vegan I like to bring brownies because they’re really awesome and chocolaty and it’s really hard to make chocolate things not taste good.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s true, if you use good chocolate, it’s hard to make chocolate not taste good.
Jesse Boss: Or cookies are good too – it’s stuff you can spread out between everybody. They almost always get eaten. Even though they are vegan and scary (laughter).
Caryn Hartglass: You know that’s a funny thing – some people think vegan food is scary. I think unfortunately it is because they do not know about the food they are eating. Because if we were able to tour the factory farm, if we were able to tour a hen farm, a hen laying facility – do you know what those things look like?
Jesse Boss: Yeah, they’re definitely scarier than any vegan food I make.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, so the hens the majority – 99.9% of the egg laying hens today are either crammed 5 to a tiny cage or they are crammed on the floor of a warehouse where they never go outside and even the eggs that are labeled free range. It’s not regulated an those chickens for the most part are not happily frolicking around outside in a barn yard.
Jesse Boss: I remember one of the most informative leaflets I ever handed out, it was just a standard 81/2 x 11 piece of paper. It said on it that if you unfolded it that is how much space the chickens had.
Caryn Hartglass: So when you show that to people what was their reaction?
Jesse Boss: Well, I was just handing it out outside a grocery store and a lot of people would take and walk away. No one stopped to have a conversation, which was kind of disappointing.
Caryn Hartglass: Probably they threw it out often?
Jesse Boss: But a lot of people would say – oh no I don’t want to look at those, I don’t want to have to see that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah isn’t that interesting, a lot of people kind of know but they don’t want to know, I don’t get that. I don’t get it because what a tremendous impact we can all do every meal if we choose to eat plant based foods versus animal foods.
Jesse Boss: Yeah and information really is everything. I have a friend who I don’t think ever assumed he’d be a vegetarian until he saw one of those factory farming videos and he hasn’t eaten meat ever since then, which I thought was really cool.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh good for him. But then there are other people that say – I don’t want to know because they know but they don’t want to know. So sometimes you know I always encourage people that are spreading the information to be compassionate and loving and gentle because angry vegan that is screaming at people is not going to get anywhere. But we can be persistent. Persistently sharing our cookies and sharing the information.
Jesse Boss: I know one angle I used was environmental. Because it seems less like an attack on people saying this is better for the environment. Because a lot of people take food really, really personally and feel like I’m insulting them or challenging them even by just being vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay Jesse I’m really impressed with what you are doing and all of the things that you know about health, about the environment, the animals. Just thank you for talking with me today. This is a pleasure and I hope a lot of teenagers get to be more like you. It would be a great world.
Jesse Boss: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay let’s go get some vegan pizza.
Jesse Boss: Yeah!!
Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Join me at http://responsibleeatingandliving.com/ lots of great recipes there. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a yummy, delicious week. Bye.
Transcribed by Rita Badami, 4/30/2013