Joaquin Phoenix has emotional meeting with cows he helped rescue from a 'factory of death' | Totally Vegan Buzz
Joaquin Phoenix cradles a baby calf as he rescues a mother cow and her newborn from a slaughterhouse
Image: LA Animal Save / YouTube

“We spend one day each year paying homage to our planet, Earth Day, but the other 364 days, we consume with impunity.”

A new documentary released by animal advocacy organization L.A. Animal Save shows Joaquin Phoenix’s emotional reunion with the cows he helped rescue from slaughter one year ago.

A day after delivering a pro-animal-rights Oscar acceptance speech in 2020, the multiple award-winning actor and vegan activist Joaquin Phoenix negotiated the release of the two animals from Manning Beef – a California slaughterhouse.

The cows – named Liberty and Indigo – were then transported to live out the rest of their natural lives alongside other rescued animals at the Acton branch of Farm Sanctuary.

Filmmaker Shaun Monson, who documented the rescue event in a short film last year, captured Phoenix’s emotional reunion in his new short film Indigo, made in partnership with LA Animal Save.


In the movie, Phoenix recounted the upheaval he experienced on visiting a slaughterhouse for the first time, feeling the ominous ‘energy’, and rescuing the calf and her mother.

He said: “There “hundreds upon thousands” of animal hides hanging on the fence at the slaughterhouse, which obviously made me uncomfortable.

“I got a sense of how they must be feeling and how terrifying their lives have been thus far.”

Commenting on rescuing Liberty and Indigo from the slaughterhouse, Phoenix said, “There was this great relief in knowing that they had been rescued from this factory of death.”

Since the cows had to undergo a quarantine process before being introduced to their new surroundings, Phoenix still felt a ‘little bit unresolved’ despite having rescued them from ‘imminent slaughter’.

“I wanted to see them completely liberated. I wanted to see them as free as possible and with other cows.”

Around a year later, Phoenix repaid a visit to Farm Sanctuary, alongside his sisters Liberty and Rain, to get an update on how liberty and Indigo had assimilated with the other rescued cows at the Sanctuary and was happy to see their progress.

Phoenix said: “It was pretty remarkable. My expectation was they would be standoffish, and I was surprised that once they’d fed and felt more comfortable… Indigo, the calf just kind of walked up towards me.

“There was no way she would come up to me when we first met yet.”

He added: “Yet here now, feeling the safety of this place, knowing that these humans had been there to care for her and the other cows … she came up with curiosity. She didn’t feel scared of me.”

Witnessing Indigo nursing off from her mother, Phoenix noted: “It’s their natural behavior; so often we interrupt that. These are unique lives and they deserve autonomy and freedom to live whatever lives they wish.

“I hope people get the opportunity to see that. I hope they can feel what I feel when I see them and recognize the intrinsic value that they have.

“I’m just thinking about the billions of animals that we kill for our consumption, for our hats or wristbands or shoes or belts.”

Impact on climate change

In the short film, Phoenix also reflected on animal agriculture’s impact on climate change and the environmental realities we’re facing today.

“We spend one day each year paying homage to our planet, Earth Day, but the other 364 days, we consume with impunity,” Phoenix said.

“It’s undeniable the detrimental impact that animal agriculture has on the environment. This simple act of rescuing Liberty and Indigo … in some ways, it’s just as simple as sparing the lives of these creatures. But it’s also an acknowledgment of not only the destruction that they experience at our hands but the environment as a whole.

“ By our actions, we either have the choice to continue to destroy other beings and the environment, or we begin the process of reversing the damage that we’ve done.”

‘Every day is Earth Day’

The movie concludes citing that meat production is expected to double by 2050. Currently 80 billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year and over 50% of forests have already been cleared for livestock rearing.

It states: “Climate change is imminent if we don’t adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Every day is Earth Day.”

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