Tell us a little about yourself.
I am living in Fairfield, Iowa and attending Maharishi University of Management. I am blessed to be able to heal people for a living as a Reiki Master. The non-profit organization I founded, PEACE, will be opening a by-donation reiki clinic from our office in town this month in order to help fund PEACE and our healers. We will also be operating a Vegan Helpline from the office, as well as, fundraising to open an organic, vegan restaurant called Plant. All of the proceeds generated from Plant will go towards funding Home. With Home, we will be purchasing a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), transforming it into a sanctuary and building an eco-village from the ground up. To find more information on this you can check out my website: Cheyanneholliday.com & PEACE’s website: peaceneedsyou.org.
Find Cheyanne online here:
Facebook: Cheyanne Holliday
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
My journey in this lifetime began 19 years ago on the Big Island of Hawaii. Since then I have spent most of my life living in Washington state, until recently, when I moved to Fairfield, Iowa to attend Maharishi University of Management. I have always had dreams of owning a sanctuary, rescuing animals and saving humankind from our destructive tendencies. However, my actions were in direct opposition of my dreams. I loved eating animal products. My favorite meal for a majority of my life consisted of steak and mashed potatoes. It’s no wonder that I was pre diabetic at 13, overweight, had vicious mood swings and faced extreme hypoglycemic episodes on a daily basis. Then, one day I became ill and for about two weeks I couldn’t consume anything except for smoothies. After that, I was physically repulsed by meat. As the carnivore of the family, this was shocking to me and everyone I knew. But I decided that since I don’t support animal cruelty anyways, it was probably better this way. A few months later, during the summer of 2017, Liam Hemsworth posted a picture of the documentary What the Health on Instagram and encouraged everyone to watch it. Halfway through, I had decided to go vegan. By the end of it I had rushed out of my room and began rapid firing facts about veganism. She expected this to be another diet fad I would try for three days then quit. Now, she’s vegan too.
Tell us about our journey to activism? Why are you an activist?
After going vegan, I was instantly impassioned and called to action. I began seeing what non-human animals go through in this industry and knew that being vegan wasn’t nearly enough. After watching earthlings, I could no longer be silent. A month after going vegan I began organizing an event called “Walk for Love” with a friend of mine, Indy. This triggered a headfirst dive into activism. I began attending Vigils with Portland Animal Save, Cubes of Truth with Anonymous for the Voiceless and Disruptions with Direct Action Everywhere. Within a month of attending 3+ events a week, I formed PEACE: Promoting Equality, Acceptance & Compassion Everywhere. To date, PEACE has chapters in Portland OR, Seattle WA, Fairfield IA and Anchorage AK. We are actively looking for more organizers. We are also currently in the beginning of a campaign aimed at encouraging the ice cream shop Salt & Straw to stop supporting slavery and go vegan. Our intention is to protest and engage in meaningful conversations until that occurs. I believe that if we don’t take immediate and urgent action as a global collective then humanities fate of this planet will be less than ideal. I have grown up watching the world burn, and I am done silently awaiting an apocalypse. Each and every one of us has the ability to make substantial change, and I intend to spend every waking second I have encouraging people to wake up to their power.
What type of activism are you involved in?
Direct action, bearing witness, speaking out, online activism & engaging in compassionate love-based dialogue. I primarily work with PEACE, Anonymous for the Voiceless, The Save Movement, Sea Shepherd, and PETA.
What were your thoughts and feelings before your first activism event?
My first event was bearing witness with Portland Animal Save. I was nervous, distressed and sad. I knew that seeing these animals and sitting outside of a slaughterhouse would be emotionally destructive. I was right. But it’s worth it. They deserve to be seen and I will bear witness to their suffering until it ends.
How did you feel once the event was over?
I felt like I had found my purpose.
How do you feel you are most effective as an activist?
I feel I am most effective as an organizer. PEACE has really shown me the power and influence I have as an individual and the ability I hold to mobilize the masses. At the events I attend and/or organize, I enjoy having conversations with people and learning more about our collective consciousness.
What has been your most memorable moment as an activist? Toughest moment?
I’ve had quite a bit of memorable moments as an activist. One of my favorite demonstrations PEACE has ever held occurred when That Vegan Couple was on their activist tour and visiting Portland. We were concluding a demonstration with the Sea Shepherds at the concert of a band that participates in the ritual slaughter of pilot whales. After the demo, we held a Love Demonstration at the Fred Meyers across the street. I had never held a demo with a group this large, so I was a bit nervous but very excited. We walked, single file, into Fred Meyers and positioned ourselves around the bodies of dead animals. We held screens displaying footage of the animal agriculture industry and signs explaining why we were there. I expected this demo to last 10 minutes, max. Generally we are kicked out of stores fairly soon on. About 8 minutes in, management approached me. She explained that she was vegetarian so she understood where we were coming from and asked us to leave. I asked her if there was anything we could do to stay since we were being silent, peaceful and not blocking anyone from shopping. I expected her to insist that we leave again, but instead she stepped away to call someone. She came back several minutes later and asked how long we intended to stay. Shocked, I told her not longer than an hour. We weren’t approached by management anymore that night. We stayed in that section for about half an hour before moving to the front of the store, taking off our duct tape and singing “we want to free the animals.” Then we left and shared a group hug. That was one of the most beautiful and flawless demonstrations I have ever conducted and I am so grateful to have had that experience. On the other hand, my toughest moment as an activist happened recently. I was driving home from the airport here in Iowa when I realized that a transportation truck was in front of me. It was filled with piglets. I followed the truck to the CAFO they were being unloaded at and begged the workers to surrender or even sell me one of them. They weren’t technically their property, so they couldn’t and I wasn’t able to get ahold of their “owner”. I asked if I could watch them unload and they allowed me. I have never seen anyone so scared in my life. Once they realized I was filming I was asked to leave, so I did. I spent the next two hours hysterically sobbing in my car. I was a disaster for the next few days. Since moving here, I have seen more suffering than I ever have in my life. That’s why I want to build Home.
What is your favorite type of activist event?
Love Demonstrations with PEACE, all the way
Please recommend your favorite activism video/s, book/s or website/s to share? Who are your activism role models?
I trained myself how to do outreach based off of Earthling Ed’s videos when I was a new activist. His E-book is a really helpful resource. Mic The Vegan is one of the most educational vegan Youtubers I’ve come across. Besides YouTube, my biggest took as an activist has been documentaries such as What the Health, Cowspiracy, A plastic Ocean, Unacknowledged, Earthlings, Dominion & Black Fish.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I cut out everything immediately. I did however cheat occasionally when going to Olive Garden before I took a fully-ethical stance. After becoming an activist I stopped eating all animal products. There were some other products that I didn’t even think wouldn’t be vegan until semi recently. For example I used a shampoo and deodorant that tested on animals up until several months ago. In terms of clothing I never wore animal products anyways.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products?
Yes. They need to know the truth.
What does being vegan mean to you?
I personally see being vegan as the least I can do. Veganism is simply not participating in the animal holocaust. Activism is actively encouraging a compassionate world for all. In order for humanity to survive, I think we all need to be activists.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist? What form of activism do you take part in?
I believe so, yes. Whether it’s online, attending demonstrations, writing books or letters, filming documentaries, marching, opening a sanctuary, rescuing animals or organizing. We all need to do something.
Are you the activist you want to see in the world? Why?
Yes. I have dedicated my life to love-based activism. In the activist community and in human society in general I have noticed a toxic theme of self-hatred that projects. I believe that in order to return our world and ourselves to love, we must first love ourselves unconditionally. This love will naturally extend to every aspect of being. Peace comes from within, and I am an embodiment of peace and love, just like we all are. Awareness of this state will be the turning point of our movement.
What is the activism scene like in your city?
PEACE is the activism scene in my city. I live in a small town in Iowa, so everything we do is extremely significant.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to get involved in activism?
Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Breathe. Find the activism that speaks to your soul and a community that supports you. Realize that every non vegan person is a product of the systematic indoctrination into a fear based paradigm. We are also a product of that paradigm. Be patient and loving and kind. Spend time at sanctuaries and hugging trees. Trust yourself. You got this.
What do you feel is your biggest area of opportunity for growth in your activism?
I tend to take on a trillion tasks and then drown in them. I am working on focusing on one thing at a time, accomplishing that task and then moving on. Also, self-care. I’ve been doing a lot better recently, but for quite some time I was filming pigs at CAFO’s daily and having breakdowns constantly. I’ve gotten better about that.
How do you balance your wellbeing and activism?
I have something called my daily pleasures that I make an effort to do daily. They consist of giving myself a massage, doing yoga, meditating, reiki, dancing, painting & writing. I find joy in being, which can bring comfort in even the most distressing moments.