The Phoenix family has been vegan since 1977 and years later, the 45-year-old actor, a passionate vegan and an outspoken animal activist recounts that the “most jarring and intense memory” of his childhood made him go vegan when he was barely 3 years old.
While Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech at the Academy Awards has gone viral, his iconic statements of humans ‘artificially inseminating cows’, separating newborn calves from their mothers, and extracting milk for personal use has caused a storm that refuses to abate.
The dairy industry has pushbacked and said that if he “had a fuller understanding of the contribution of dairy products to a nutritious diet,” he would know of dairy’s contribution to global health and livelihood.
Some baffled viewers have even asked whether Phoenix is a vegan while others want to know more of this man who calls himself a vegan and an animal rights activist.
Joaquin Phoenix’s journey to veganism
On October 28, 1977, young Joaquin Phoenix embarked on a Miami bound cargo ship to leave Venezuela with his family.
Not only did this journey help his parents flee a religious cult but it also led the entire family to never want to eat meat again.
Phoenix was barely three years old then and in a 2018 interview with Collider, the 45-year-old actor recounted the incident that changed his perspective: “Really it was seeing these fish being killed when I was on a boat as a kid.
“I guess to stun them they were throwing them against the side of the boat. I just had a profound strong reaction. It felt like a real injustice.
“I don’t know how to explain it. I think it made me distrustful, and angry, and frightened of humans, humanity. I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way.
“I think that during that moment we knew that we were not going to eat meat anymore. We said to our parents, “Why didn’t you tell us?” … It became very obvious we weren’t going to eat meat anymore.”
Phoenix is an unyielding animal rights campaigner and loses no opportunity to speak up against the atrocities of animals- the latest example being the Oscar speech.
He was named PETA’s 2019 Person of the Year for his unrelenting work for animal rights.
He has participated in several PETA campaigns against wool trade, dog leather, turkey meat, and exotic skins fishing.
“Joaquin Phoenix never misses an opportunity to turn the spotlight away from himself and onto animals’ plight and to set a great example of walking the vegan walk,” said PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in a statement.
He is regularly seen attending pig vigils to comfort pigs on their way to slaughterhouses.
In one interview with a media portal he condemned the dairy and meat industries and said eating meat was ‘absurd and barbaric’ and had a devastating effect on the environment.
“To me it just seems obvious. I don’t want to cause pain to another living, empathetic creature,” he said.
“I don’t want to force it to be indoors and fattened up just to be slaughtered. It is absurd and barbaric.
“I don’t understand how you could witness that and not be affected by it. But certainly, also the effect that it has on our environment is devastating. So for me, it’s just, it’s my life and always has been my life and it’s really one of the most important things to me.”
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