Actor Joaquin Phoenix condemned the dairy industry in his Best Actor acceptance speech at the 92nd Academy Awards. Phoenix won the Oscar for his performance in “Joker.”
“I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality,” he said. “I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality, or racism, or queer rights, or indigenous rights, or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control, use, and exploit another with impunity.
“I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” he said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for the calf and we put it in our coffee and cereal. We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop, and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.”
Phoenix has used this awards season as a platform to discuss animal rights issues and climate change as well as human rights issues and racism. A vegan since age three, Phoenix was instrumental in convincing the Golden Globes to make its menu entirely vegan just days before the ceremony. Other awards ceremonies followed suit: the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the BAFTAs, all made their menus vegan. The Oscars nominee luncheon was vegan and 70 percent of the Governor’s Ball this evening is plant-based.
Platform for Justice
After his SAG Award, Phoenix headed to a Los Angeles pig vigil run by LA Animal Save saying that he “had” to be there to fight the injustice. The event sees dozens of Angelinos meet truckloads of pigs awaiting slaughter. Phoenix and his fiancée actress Rooney Mara are regulars at the events. People bring water and kindness to the animals outside the slaughterhouse.
When in London for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, he attended an animal rights protest. Last Friday, just ahead of the Oscars, he attended a climate protest rally in Los Angeles organized by Jane Fonda. Phoenix also recently attended one of her protests in Washington D.C. and was arrested alongside actor Martin Sheen.
“Joker” is the first-ever R-rated film to bring in more than $1 billion at the box office. Phoenix has been lauded for his performance as the mentally disturbed Arthur Fleck, who becomes Joker. Phoenix swept the awards this year.
At the BAFTA’s he also pointed the finger at systemic racism in Hollywood. “So many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege,” he said. “I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here. I think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry, and in ways that we benefit from.”
He continued: “This is not a self-righteous condemnation, because I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem.”
Celebrating With Vegan Burgers
Following his Oscars win, Phoenix and fiancée Rooney Mara enjoyed vegan burgers from LA-based chain Monty’s.
The vegan In-N-Out style burger chain was founded by Nic Adler. Its minimalist menu offers Impossible Burgers, vegan milkshakes, fries, and salad at its three Southern California locations. Adler is also the food director for Coachella and the founder of the Eat Drink Vegan festival.
Such an honor to be a small part of a historic night for [Phoenix],” Adler said in an email to LIVEKINDLY. “There is nothing more powerful than using a platform like the Oscars to promote the truth and understanding of something that drives us daily at Monty’s: Do good things for the right reason and change will happen.”
Phoenix and Mara also attended the Vanity Fair Oscar party with pro-vegan cards from Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s first sanctuary for rescued farm animals. The cards read “Choose Vegan. It isn’t a fad, it’s the future,” featuring facts and figures on the environmental benefits of plant-based food.