Allison Rivers Samson is an award-winning vegan chef, author of Comfortably Yum, founder of the first online vegan bakery, Allison’s Gourmet, mom, and wellness coach. She is known as The Maven of Mmmm…for bringing joyful expertise to living a deliciously compassionate life.
Michelle Cehn is a filmmaker on a mission to make dairy-free living enticing, easy, and fun through gorgeous photography and visual storytelling. She’s the founder of WorldofVegan.com, and co-author of The Friendly Vegan Cookbook, and a YouTube personality who has reached millions through her creative, relatable, and engaging vegan videos.
Find out more about THE DAIRY DETOX
Caryn Hartglass: Now onto the second part of the show! More love happening here. We’re tuning to love one more time. I’m going to bring on Allison Rivers Samson and Michelle Cehn to talk about The Dairy Detox. Hello, lovely people.
Allison Rivers Samson: Hi, Caryn. It’s Allison.
Michelle Cehn: Hello!
Caryn Hartglass: Michelle, did I pronounce your name right?
Michelle Cehn: Very close. It’s pronounced Michelle “Kay-n”, but no one would ever know that.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, it’s a hard “c”! It’s a hard “c”. Okay, very good. The Dairy Detox. I’m just going to turn it over to you. Tell me about it.
Allison Rivers Samson: Okay, great. Thank you so much, first of all, for having us on this show. It’s been a long time since we did this, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Actually, I should tell everybody. Allison Rivers Samson, you’re an award-winning chef, the author of Comfortably Yum, and the founder of the first online vegan bakery Allison’s Gourmet, which has fed us so sweetly for so many years. Thank you for that. Is it true: Allison’s Gourmet is going away?
Allison Rivers Samson: Yes, yes. In fact, I think today is our final shipping day.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh my goodness.
Allison Rivers Samson: Yup. After twenty years, I’m moving on to some new projects, and I get to talk about one of them with you today, which is The Dairy Detox. I’m so, so excited. And thank you for all of your support throughout the years for Allison’s Gourmet; it was such a fabulous adventure for me to do. To get to serve so many people and be a part of so many celebrations. Yeah, it’s also very exciting to move on.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. One of the things people will often say when they’re confronted with the idea of going vegan is that they think they’re going to be deprived. And you proved over and over that there’s no deprivation, at least in terms of sweets. You can just make everything wonderfully.
Allison Rivers Samson: Absolutely
Caryn Hartglass: Now, Michelle Cehn is a filmmaker on a mission to make dairy-free life and living enticing, easy, and fun with gorgeous photography and visual storytelling. She’s the founder of World of Vegan, co-author of The Friendly Vegan Cookbook, and YouTube personality who has reached millions through her creative, relatable, and engaging YouTube videos.
Now how is it that the two of you came together to team up?
Allison Rivers Samson: Michelle, you want to take that?
Michelle Cehn: Sure. So I worked with various vegan and animal rights non-profits over the years. At the time that me and Allison met, I was working at the PETA Foundation and I was organizing our weekend events for our supporters. We brought Allison to come and perform a cooking demo because of the wonderful cooking skills she has in the cooking department. We just really connected then and have been close friends ever since.
Years down the line, when we were both ready to take on new projects and adventures, we realized it would be a perfect opportunity to team up and do some really great things to help people, our planet, and animals. That’s how we eventually landed on The Dairy Detox.
Allison Rivers Samson: Yeah, and we’re so lucky. If I could have written a personal ad to find my perfect business partner, I don’t know if I could have done as well as Michelle.
Michelle Cehn: Oh! (chuckles)
Allison Rivers Samson: I mean, she and I have such a wonderful synergy. I’m amazed over and over. We started creating this program (The Dairy Detox) over a year ago, and it’s just amazing to me. Every step we take, it’s like, “Oh my gosh! Another synergy! How amazing!” So I feel really lucky that we get to work together. Michelle has done some beautiful photography and all the videography for our program. How about I tell you what The Dairy Detox is?
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds like a good thing.
Allison Rivers Samson: Okay! The Dairy Detox is a twelve-day online video course that is delivered directly to people’s inboxes so that everything is very convenient. The two of us are sharing tips and everything that people need to know to go dairy-free.
Each day, we cover a different topic about dairy-free living. We talk about health; we talk about nutrition; we talk about why we have this addiction to dairy, what’s the science behind that; we talk about what you can use for the different things like milk, cheese, butter, and all the different dairy products that people are used to eating.
And we tell people this is a detox and people get to choose their own adventure. We guide them how to navigate the grocery store shelves. So if they just want to buy prepared foods that are dairy-free, they can do that. Or if they want to go at the other end of the spectrum, they can use homemade recipes that I’ve created and they can learn how to make everything themselves. We want people to have options, and that’s what we’ve done.
Do you want to add anything, Michelle?
Michelle Cehn: Yeah. One of the benefits of the course is all the recipes that often are specially crafted to your years of expertise in the kitchen.
To make it really easy for people to take their own health into their own hands; learn more about food; and getting into the kitchen and see how really easy it is to make our favorite foods out of things like nuts and seeds. Really basic foods that are convenient for everyone to find and make. You can actually transform them into delicious cheesy sauces, dressings, and all those dairy food things that people think you’re missing out on when you go dairy-free.
Allison Rivers Samson: Yeah. And we know that they are so not missing out. (chuckles) Not at all.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. We all know that, but getting the point across to everybody else is the challenge. And we’re doing it with love.
Allison Rivers Samson: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: Like I like to say, we’re tuning in love here. It’s All About Food and it’s all about love. Coming from a place of love. We want everybody to be nourished and happy while not doing harm to ourselves, other living beings, and the planet. Now I’ve been vegan since 1988, over twenty-eight years now.
Michelle Cehn: Wow, that’s amazing.
Allison Rivers Samson: Woo-hoo!
Caryn Hartglass: Woo-hoo!
Michelle Cehn: So you’ve seen a lot of things. (chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, absolutely. Many people including myself—maybe not as much now, but I don’t know— the natural way for me was to eliminate red meat, then chicken and fish; then the last thing to go were dairy and eggs.
I always say if I were going to do it any other way or do it again, dairy would be the first to go. I think it’s the most unhealthful food; it’s not a healthy food in any form (milk, cheese, otherwise). I also think, although it’s not intuitive, the way we raise dairy cows today is so horrific, so cruel. These poor, precious animals are just treated so horribly from birth to death. It’s probably a worse life than those raised for meat because dairy cows become meat in the end.
Michelle Cehn: Right, that’s true. That’s one of our most powerful days in The Dairy Detox. Our goal with The Dairy Detox is to reach people who are really looking to do something great with their health. But in the later days of The Dairy Detox program, we talk about the impact on the environment, the impact on animals, and the impact on our planet. I think our day on animals is just the most powerful one for both Allison and I because we are huge animal lovers. Allison is a mom so she knows the connection between a mother and a baby, which is so frequently broken and torn apart in the dairy industry.
We’re really excited to see people who haven’t really thought about the food choices affecting beyond themselves to get to those days and to learn about these issues in a really powerful, powerful way. We spent a lot of time really making those days as impactful as we possibly could whilst staying very non-graphic and very easy to absorb for the viewer.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, since I got the opportunity to review the program, I got to listen to the first seven, I think.
Michelle Cehn: Wow, that’s great! I’m impressed.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. They’re very well done, very clean, shiny, happy, and easy with lots of great materials. I didn’t get to any of the animal related issues, but one thing that people talk about all the time is, “Well, I have organic dairy. Isn’t organic dairy better?”
Allison Rivers Samson: Day ten is the day that we cover the animal issues. Make sure you check that one out, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) I will!
Allison Rivers Samson: I think you’ll really enjoy it. I mean, as much as you can enjoy hearing how that is. But the way that we present it is, I think, a really compassionate way. I think most people are unwittingly, just like the cows are, tangled in this industry that is just feeding us lies. What we’re doing is breaking myths.
And we’re helping people see through the veil of the mainstream culture that has told us things like: dairy can be good for you; it can be healthy; it can be done kindly; organic is better; grass-fed. All of these things that are actually just marketing terminology that really preys on passionate consumers. It’s really frustrating once we see beyond the veil to the truth, that that’s what it is. We’re being manipulated. It’s very eye opening.
What I discovered is that organic is actually worse for the animals. And I didn’t know this. The reason that it’s worse for the animals is when they get infections, there are a lot more limited choices that the—I don’t know what you would call them. They’re called “farmers”, but I wouldn’t call them a farmer. I think when we say farmer, we think of that old fashioned farmer sitting’ on an overturned pail. That’s the farthest thing from what’s going on in the dairy industry today.
But whatever you call them, they can’t treat the animals with antibiotics because humans don’t want antibiotics in their milk. So animals actually suffer with things like mastitis, which is an udder infection. Comes from overproduction, and that happens with dairy cattle because of the way that we’re raising them and what we’re forcing their bodies to do. Absolutely unnatural. That’s just one example. These animals aren’t getting the treatment and medical care they need, so they’re actually suffering worse.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I didn’t know that. Just one more sad thing to add to that very awful pile. And why we don’t want to consume dairy and why this course is so important.
Now, here we are: it’s 2016 and there seems to be this growing movement—which obviously you’re aware of—where more people are learning online through webinars, course programs like this rather than opening a book. What is happening here?
Allison Rivers Samson: Go ahead, Michelle.
Michelle Cehn: All right, yeah. So one of the beauties today with technology and social media is that we have so many more opportunities to learn really high-level things that didn’t used to be accessible, unless you were willing to go digging around the basement of an old library. This stuff is now accessible to the everyday consumer. They can just open up a computer, they can find courses, they can find free videos online to learn information they’re looking to learn.
One of the beautiful things with a detox course or The Dairy Detox.is that making lifestyle choices that enter your everyday life are really difficult to do when you feel isolated and alone. A lot of the time, you’re just picking up a book and reading the book in your own home. You can feel very alone. You’re the only one seeing this; how are you going to get everyone else to understand what you’re doing?
When you’re able to sign up for an online e-course, you kind of have instant friends. Allison and I are eager to become supporters, cheerleaders, and resources of friends for people who sign up to The Dairy Detox so that they don’t feel so alone. I know all three of us probably went vegan before it became the hip, trendy thing to do.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Michelle Cehn: From people I know from my own experience, there probably are a lot of people who have that sense of being alone. Not knowing whom to turn to and not having those accessible people and resources to guide you along the way and share their knowledge. So that’s one of the awesome things about creating a course: that we’re able to connect to people, face-to-face. In a much more personal way than we could through a book.
Caryn Hartglass: You are both moms, Allison and Michelle, right?
Allison Rivers Samson: No, Michelle is not. Just me.
Michelle Cehn: Just Allison.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I thought you were a mom. Okay. Well, I remember a long time ago—I know it’s still true that families that went vegan and were bringing up their young children without milk got a lot of feedback at the schools. A lot of bad feedback. “You’re a child abuser. You’re doing terrible things to kids. They absolutely need milk.” So I imagine a forum can be really beneficial, where people can share some of their fears and some of the negative things that are going on in their life while they’re going through this transition.
Allison Rivers Samson: Yes, and that’s part of The Dairy Detox that we’ve created. All of our students will be part of our Facebook group that’s just for students and alumni. So they’ll be able to come in there and ask questions, share recipes, share inspiration, different tips; so that people can have that experience of discovering together.
That speaks to what Michelle was saying about how we want to create this as a supportive community. So that people aren’t making this change—that can feel really huge in the beginning—in isolation. That we want them to feel held and supported through the transition because it’s really the transition time that’s the difficult part.
It’s not what happens after the transition, right? It’s, “How do I get from here to there?” Once people open their eyes and they know how to do this—and they have the why’s like, “Why am I doing this?” it’s much easier.
Caryn Hartglass: You probably heard this—I know I have a gazillion, million, trillion times. When I talk about how bad dairy foods are, often the response is, “Oh, I don’t eat a lot of dairy.”
Allison Rivers Samson & Michelle Cehn: (chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: Until you decide not to eat dairy—and I’m sure you’ll discover in this course all of the foods that contain or may contain dairy that you didn’t realize—you don’t realize that it’s in so many foods.
Allison Rivers Samson: (chuckles) Yeah, it’s true.
Michelle Cehn: Yeah. The other thing that I’ve had other people say to me as well is, “Oh, I tried non-dairy milk, and I didn’t like it.”
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Michelle Cehn: It’s one of the first things that we cover in our course because it’s often the most obvious switch that you can make. Just switching cow’s milk for almond milk, nut milk, soymilk, or any of the other milks out there. The thing that a lot of people don’t realize when they first start shopping for dairy for milk is that it’s not just cow’s milk or dairy-free milk. It’s cow’s milk, cashew milk, almond milk, soymilk, flax milk; there’s so many options out there and they all have different flavor profiles. You can get them sweetened or unsweetened. There are so many different varieties there that need to be explored so that you can find the ones that really resonate with you and you love.
The other thing is that everyone who has gone vegan or made a dietary change learns how flexible our taste buds are. We really can adapt and we do adapt to anything that we become used to. That’s why in some cultures durian—this smelly, uniquely flavored plant which I think is a fruit—some people love. Someone from another culture can try that and spit it out or not even be able to breathe around it.
We start to love the things that we’re used to. It is definitely what Allison was saying: it’s that transition period that’s challenging. After that, it’s effortless. So we’re here to make that transition period easy and really fun. We try to make our videos engaging, upbeat, and inspiring. Just really make the process not feel challenging or overwhelming. Break it down day-by-day, step-by-step, and make it fun.
Allison Rivers Samson: That’s the thing. There are specific details to it, but it doesn’t have to be this heavy, difficult thing. It’s just learning something new, and we present the information in a really friendly and accessible way so that people feel like their hands are held.
We also really value people’s time so we made this program extremely efficient. To go back to what Michelle was saying earlier about online courses, the other really huge benefit is that number one: you don’t have to get in your car; drive through traffic; show up at a certain time; sit in a classroom, in an environment that you may or may not feel comfortable in. You don’t even have to take a shower to take our course. (chuckles)
It’s all very much intended for convenience and respecting time. People can watch it during any time. Even if during the twelve days, maybe they got behind on one day or something, the videos are very potent and intended to be like, “Here’s everything that you need to know.” There’s no extra fluff, but it’s also done in a real beautiful and streamlined way.
Caryn Hartglass: I think dairy milk tastes gross. And I thought it tasted gross as a kid. It had to be really cold or I had to mix it with a lot of chocolate. They’re doing that more these days, adding sugar and flavorings, just to get kids to drink milk because it’s gross!
Allison Rivers Samson: It’s gross!
Caryn Hartglass: If you like milk, when you do a detox, you will (I promise) get to a point where you think milk tastes gross too. That’s cow’s milk.
Allison Rivers Samson: That’s so true. It got this very animal component to it that I think most people don’t know. I can actually smell it on people; I’m part dog so I’m kind of a super smeller in that way. That’s what’s helped me with being a chef. But I can smell it on people, and there is this very animal component to it. People get used to it; it’s just like what Michelle was saying: there is a dairy-free milk for everyone.
Caryn Hartglass: Uh-huh. I wish you a lot of luck. I hope many, many people get off dairy, take your course, do really well with it, and thrive. This may be too early to ask this question, but are there any plans to make this course available in Chinese and Hindu?
Allison Rivers Samson: Well, Michelle?
Caryn Hartglass: The reason why I’m asking this question is because we’re slowly learning in the United States how bad dairy is for us. Unfortunately, many of the developing and growing nations like China and India are behind the times when it comes to nutrition. They’re getting increasingly sick with chronic disease. In China, there’s this big demand, a drive to create more dairy. They need this class!
Allison Rivers Samson: I agree with you.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
Allison Rivers Samson: We’re definitely planning it, at some stage down the road. I definitely envision this in other languages.
It’s funny: a lot of people think lactose intolerance is this unusual health ailment. But two out of every three adults—two out of every three! —is lactose intolerant worldwide. It’s actually very, very common, and the reason is that it’s abnormal for us to drink milk that comes from a mammal after our growing years. Our bodies aren’t made to do that. We go into all the details about that in The Dairy Detox.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, the last thing that I want to talk about is cheese. Cheese, cheese, cheese. Because everybody talks about, “Oh, I can’t give up cheese!” Here it is, in 2016, that we have more wonderful options. The original non-dairy cheeses were pretty disgusting.
Allison Rivers Samson: They were!
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) But now there are so many that are wonderful that you can make at home or buy in the store. Just tell me a little bit about cheese and your cheeses.
Michelle Cehn: Yeah, we’re in a wonderful time right now to be launching this course because anything that you could miss dairy, there are dairy-free alternatives. Vegan cheeses and dairy-free cheeses are one of the fastest growing, recent explosions. We’ve got Miyoko’s Kitchen, Dr. Cow, Kite Hill, Heidi Ho!, Vtopia, Punk Rawk Labs, Follow Your Heart, Feel Good, Daiya—
Allison Rivers Samson: Chao.
Michelle Cehn: There are so many brands that are jumping on the vegan cheese train, and they are getting a lot better, so fast. You don’t have to look at it as giving up cheese anymore. People say, “I can never live without cheese.” Fine! Don’t live without cheese! Look at these million varieties over here.
It used to that you would try it and it would be kind of awful; they didn’t melt or they would fall apart when heated or something. But now a bigger and bigger percentage of the vegan cheeses out there are really delicious! They’re winning awards. The innovation is just so rapid.
It’s a really exciting to make a decision in your life where you’re excited to try out new things. Every time you go to the grocery store, there’s a new brand or new variety of vegan cheese out there that you get to try. It’s a really fun adventure.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the things that needs to happen soon at a federal level with the FDA and at a state level is that in every state we need to be able to call these non-dairy cheeses “cheese”. We can’t do that everywhere.
Allison Rivers Samson: Yeah. (chuckles) That, and we need to stop bailing out the dairy industry when their supply has overgrown demand. When their supply is beyond what the demand is. We know about these recent stories in the news that the government is bailing out the dairy industry because fewer and fewer people are purchasing dairy products. We need to redo all these subsidies and things like that. So hopefully that will be part of the process.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Well, this has been lovely. I’m so excited about your program The Dairy Detox. People that are listening and interested, you can just go to responsibleeatingandliving.com for this interview. It’s right there. You can find more about The Dairy Detox. Or you can go directly, and the website is—
Allison Rivers Samson & Michelle Cehn: thedairydetox.com!
Caryn Hartglass: thedairydetox.com. Okay, let’s get more people detoxing off dairy.
Allison Rivers Samson: Absolutely.
Michelle Cehn: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, Allison, and thank you, Michelle. I wish you well.
Allison Rivers Samson & Michelle Cehn: Thank you. Thank you so much for having us.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome! Okay, bye-bye.
Allison Rivers Samson & Michelle Cehn: Bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, everybody: that was Allison Rivers Samson and Michelle Cehn. They’ve got The Dairy Detox course ready for you. I know a lot of you still haven’t gotten over the cheese thing, the dairy thing, and maybe this is what’s going to help you. I hope so.
Just a minute left or so. I’m going to take a breath. Whew! Speaking of cheese, right? Yesterday, we made Open Faced Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches. You can read about it at What Vegans Eat: Day 594 which I just posted today. That included Field Roast Chao Slices. Of course, we can’t call them Chao cheese; we call them slices. But they are one of our favorites when we don’t make our own cheese at home. They are easy, accessible, and very, very favorable. I hope you check them out.
Wow, we’ve come to the end of the show. I can’t believe it. I could talk all day about food, you know that. Thank you for tuning in love with me today. Thank you for tuning in It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass and please have a very delicious week!
Transcribed by HT, 10/6/2016