Celebrities

Joaquin Phoenix Hopes His Son River Will Be Vegan, but Won\u2019t \u2018Force\u2019 It

As a passionate advocate for animal rights – and long-time vegan since the age of three – you might expect Joker star Joaquin Phoenix to direct his nearest and dearest towards a plant-based lifestyle. But the acclaimed actor, who welcomed a baby boy last September with fiancée Rooney Mara, has other plans for his son, River. Rather than “force him to be vegan”, Phoenix said in a new interview, he’ll “educate him about the reality” of animal agriculture.

“Well, certainly I would hope that [he is vegan], but I’m not going to impose my belief on my child,” he told the Sunday Times in an interview promoting his latest production – a dialogue-free documentary, Gunda, about pig sentience. “I don’t think that’s right. I’m going to educate him about the reality. I’m not going to indoctrinate him with the idea that McDonald’s have a Happy Meal because there’s nothing f*cking happy about that meal.

“And I’m not going to tell him that it’s OK to read books about all the wonderful little farm animals, and they say ‘oink oink oink’ and ‘moo moo moo’, and not tell him that that’s what a hamburger is. So I’m not going to perpetuate the lie, but I’m also not going to force him to be vegan. I’ll support him. That’s my plan.”

Later in the interview, Phoenix admitted he was “not excited” about giving an acceptance speech while collecting his Best Actor Oscar for Joker back in 2020, but felt it was important to use the platform to advocate for veganism. “I was in that situation and there was a part of me that just wanted to say, ‘Thanks so much, great, goodnight,’” he recalled. “But I felt like I had to… If I’m up here, I can’t just thank my mom.”

What followed was an emotional speech that touched on “distressing issues” people across the world are facing collectively. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow,” he told the audience. “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 her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

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