Cykochik Compassionate Citizen - Michelle Cehn

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Cykochik Compassionate Citizen - Michelle Cehn

Michelle Cehn 

Vegan Filmmaker, Photographer,
Founder of World of Vegan

Oakland, CA

What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"Be the change that you want to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi 

This quote is thrown around a lot but I still remember the first time I heard it, and thought "Ah-hah! THAT is the answer to life."

What are some must-read books that have inspired/changed you? Why?
The most life-changing book that I've read is Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. I picked it up at a used bookstore while I was in college, unaware of it's significance. I read it in two days, identified strongly with the utilitarian philosophy within, and by the time I closed the book, I had made the decision to go vegan.

Do you have any films (narrative/doc) that have inspired/changed you? Why?

One of my favorite films is Peaceable Kingdom, because it helps people reconnect with their hearts.

Who/what inspires you? Why?
I am inspired by acts of altruism, and by anyone who sees injustices in the world and takes it upon themselves to do something about it. 

Some of the most notable inspirations to me include these tireless unsung activists and change makers: Stephanie Frankle, Dana Portnoy, Christina Yasi, Jen Kaden, Jon Camp, Shani Campbell, Deb Claassen, Sarah Rice, Eddie Plotts, Kristie Middleton, Christine Morrissey, and Daphna Nachminovitch.

What are some of your advice/tips for being a Compassionate Citizen?
Find creative ways to apply your talents and passions toward doing good in the world. If you love taking photos, volunteer to take photos of the animals at your local shelter. If you like politics, write to our public officials and work to create change in the laws. If you enjoy art, create art with a message, or donate your artwork to a nonprofit. If you like to cook, make incredible vegan food and share it with friends and family to show how delicious compassionate cuisine can be. There are endless ways to make the world a better place, and when we choose the avenues that align with our interests, we will never burn out. 

There are also many opportunities to incorporate easy everyday activism into your life. This could be wearing a t-shirt, necklace, or button with a message. It could be carrying leaflets with you to leave at the doctor's office, the cafe, or on the train. It could be making a point of asking for more vegan options at every restaurants you visit. Or it could be driving with a bumper sticker on your car. These are all things that don't take extra time or energy, but over the course of your life can make a huge impact.

And most importantly, never be silent about the things that matter.

What are you currently working on?
A lot! Earlier this year I launched the website—a hub for all things vegan—so I'm always working on content for that site. My biggest passion is filmmaking, and I'm currently working on a bunch of bite-sized vegan videos for World of Vegan and for nonprofits including Mercy for Animals and Farm Sanctuary. I'm doing food photography for an upcoming veg-themed book which is really fun, and I have some other big projects in the works, but they are still hush-hush. Stay tuned!  

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