At the 92nd Academy Awards, dedicated animal rights activist and incredible performer Joaquin Phoenix received the Oscar for best actor. While he won for his gripping portrayal of the Joker, it was Joaquin’s powerful acceptance speech that stole the show.
After taking the stage, Joaquin acknowledged the unique platform acting had given him for speaking out against injustice. He drew parallels between the many different causes close to people’s hearts.
I think at times we feel, or we’re made to feel, that we champion different causes, but for me, I see commonality. 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 and use, and exploit another with impunity.
After receiving a round of applause, Joaquin dove deeper into the suffering of animals, specifically mother cows.
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. Then, we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal, and I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up.
While Joaquin’s words were sobering, he made clear that there was still hope if humans worked together and chose love and kindness over cruelty.
But human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop, and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
Joaquin has been sweeping through this awards season, picking up wins at the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critic’s Choice Awards. This year, all four major awards shows either fully eliminated animal products from their menus or greatly increased their plant-based offerings. Joaquin has been using his winning speeches to thank the awards shows for their compassionate and environmentally friendly decision.
Between awards shows, Joaquin has been taking part in vegan protests, such as a pig slaughterhouse vigil after the SAG awards and a protest against factory farming in London prior to the BAFTA awards. Joaquin also took part in a short film called Guardians of Life, which draws attention to the role animal agriculture has played in the wildfires that have raged in the Amazon and Australia.
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