Vegan Heroes – Joaquin Phoenix – Speak up for Animals

Joaquin Phoenix is one of those celebrities who walks the talk. He is out there, doing something; and for years, I have read about him being active and speaking up for animals, even participating in protests against climate change as well. He has already done so much for animals and the vegan movement, it is impressive. If there is one person who belongs in this Vegan Heroes series, it is most definitely Joaquin Phoenix.

Vegan Heroes - Joaquin Phoenix - Speak up for Animals
Harald Krichel, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

First, Back to the Beginning

To the very beginning … We are jumping a long way back in time when Joaquin was just three years old. Yep, he decided to be vegan when he was three, and the reason was a fishing trip.

I’ve been vegan since I was three years old. And at that age, me and my siblings witnessed fish being killed in a really violent and aggressive way,” Phoenix says. “It was just absolutely obvious that that was something we didn’t want to participate in. I don’t want to cause pain to another living, empathetic creature.”

To stun the fish, they were violently smashed against the side of the boat, which horrified him.


“I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way,” he explained. “We said to our parents, ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ I remember my mom’s face, I remember her crying. She didn’t know how to answer. It became very obvious we weren’t going to eat meat anymore.”

It wasn’t just him who had this reaction, all of his siblings were shocked by the brutality. Soon after they also ditched dairy and the whole family became vegan.

Achievements in the Film Industry

I loved Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator, 8 mm, and Walk the Line, but also in his other movies. He always gives a brilliant performance. Even in Gladiator where he played the evil Commodus, I thought he was mesmerizing.


His list of movies is long and impressive and each and every one is amazing. He knows how to pick his films 🙂

  • Joker
  • Gladiator
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • The Immigrants
  • To Die For
  • We Own the Night
  • What the Health
  • Walk the Line
  • The Master
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Signs
  • Parenthood
  • 8mm
  • Mary Magdalene
  • The Village,
  • Dr. Strange
  • Two Lovers
  • Brother Bear
  • Inherent Vice
  • I’m Still Here
  • Irrational Man
  • And many more, the list is long …

He has won several awards and has been nominated for many. Critic’s Choice, Grammy’s, Golden Globe, Cannes Festival, and the highly acclaimed Oscars. In 2020, he won an Oscar for “The Joker”, a movie I still have to see.

film roll

When and Why did Joaquin Phoenix Become Vegan?

As I mentioned before, he was only three. Check out this short video in which Joaquin explains his reasons for being vegan.

Vegan Activism

Oh man, where do I start? He has done so much already and he doesn’t stop. A better question would be, what hasn’t he done yet for animal rights?

When his movies are mentioned, he says that the one he is asked about the most is Earthlings, a documentary about man’s exploitation of animals for food, pets, clothing, laboratories, cosmetics, etc. Phoenix narrated this heartbreaking documentary and Moby provided the soundtrack.


Want to watch a good horror movie? Watch Earthlings. Only … the horror is real …


He uses his stardom to spread the message about veganism and he often urges people to go vegan. He has participated in many animal rights protests and vigils in the US as well as the UK. He speaks out against animal cruelty and he supports PETA.

In this video below Joaquin and his wife Rooney Mara (who is also a vegan activist) march for Animal Rights Day, leading an animal funeral procession in West Hollywood, commemorating the trillions of animals that are killed every year for food, science, fashion, and entertainment.

After winning a well-deserved Oscar for his outstanding performance in the Joker, he headed to a slaughterhouse and rescued a cow and her calf and helped bring them to Farm Sanctuary, which is a sanctuary for rescued farm animals.

In the video below you can see his memorable speech that touched everyone worldwide, at least, I’d like to believe that, because it is a beautiful, amazing speech.

Joaquin also made The Golden Globes go vegan. He proposed the idea to Hollywood Foreign Press Association that runs The Golden Globes, and he convinced them to present an all-vegan menu at the ceremony’s dinner. So, instead of the usual fish or steak, guests were now served chilled golden beet soup, oyster mushroom scallops with mushroom risotto, and for dessert a mouthwatering chocolate opera dome.

Additionally, soon after the success of The Golden Globes dinner he persuaded a pre-Oscar’s bash in Hollywood to also serve plant-based food. Critic’s Choice, SAG Awards, WME, and the Academy followed the example and offered only vegan food for the Oscar’s. It looks like Joaquin is making Hollywood vegan.

Although he is vegan for the animals, he argues that meat farming is a main cause of climate change because of greenhouse gases, and he believes that Hollywood should set an example.


Final Thoughts

Having been vegan for over 40 years, Joaquin Phoenix has always set an example for his followers. He makes time to help protests organized by vegan groups. He is even known to have gone down into the Toronto subway to support a vegan billboard campaign.

He works tirelessly to spread the message of compassion for all and end speciesism (Speciesism is the belief of human superiority which leads to exploitation of animals; it’s a prejudice in the interest of our own species against members of other species).

Needless to say that I admire him greatly, not only as an actor but most importantly as a vegan activist. He is someone who uses his fame to shed light on the suffering of others and make a change in the world, someone who uses his fame for good.

He is a voice for the voiceless, for the animals whose cries often go unheard. Joaquin Phoenix is a true vegan hero.

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13 thoughts on “Vegan Heroes – Joaquin Phoenix – Speak up for Animals”

  1. To my deep shame I have to admit I have never heard of Joaquin Phoenix! I looked at your list of films and I haven’t seen any of them. Not sure if that is an explanation or another reason to be ashamed, LOL.

    But what a marvelous achievement to even get the Hollywood events vegan. Kudos to him!
    It is so great if people have the stamina to fight for something they believe in, don’t you think? Especially when they book results. Very inspiring and hope-giving for our own efforts!

    Thanks, Christine!

    • Hi Hannie,

      Joaquin Phoenix is an inspiration for the vegan movement, he is one of the people I admire the most because of everything he has done for animals and still does.
      Watch some of his movies when you get the chance. 8mm is really good, Gladiator is also great, and I really enjoyed Walk the Line which is the story of Johnny Cash. Hotel Rwanda is a very powerful movie about the Rwandan genocide, based on the real life story of the hotel director who saved over a thousand Tutsi and Hutu refugees.

  2. Haha thanks for the article my guy! Ya know what, I totally agree! I believe that if there’s anyone worthy of being in the vegan heroes series, it has to be Joaquin Phoenix. I loved his movie roles, but I think his dedication towards animals is even greater. There’s not a lot of people that stand up for animals, so we have to give credit to those who boldly do. 

  3. Joaquin Phoenix is truly an inspiration being an amazing actor, a passionate vegan, and an outspoken animal activist. Intense memory of his childhood made him go vegan at age of three, which shows to the world that animal cruelty is not right we should not take other species life for granted and let them live.
    As a vegan actor, he gained notable popularity within the animal rights community due to his impassioned activism and after winning the Oscar award he has an emotionally touching speech about animal cruelty to the world which is a remarkable gesture.

    He truly becomes a voice for the voiceless by working behind the scenes to produce documentaries about animal welfare and veganism.
    He is a true vegan hero who is spreading compassion for all animals and end speciesism.

  4. This is pretty amazing, I only know Joaquin Phoenix as the guy who starred in joker. I didn’t know about this side of him. The brutality that animals endure is definitely a lot.  It’s good to know that someone can stand up for them. It’s amazing. And being able to make the decision of being a vegan from the age of three is impressive. 

  5. Hi Christine,

    Yes, it’s new to know that he is also a vegan, and he started in at a very young age(3 years old!) I was shocked the first thing he did after winning an Oscar is to rescue a cow and her calf, which I didn’t connect with the lives of Hollywood stars, isn’t it? Maybe this diversity makes what he is right now, and he did set up a role model for the following generation of actors and actresses in that room. He does deserve big applause from me.

    Thank you for sharing today. His Oscar speech was very impressive!

    • Hi Matt,

      I agree that he set up a role model for the other actors and actresses and also for his many followers. He really does deserve a huge applause 🙂
      Thank you for your comment!

  6. Hi Christine,
    Thank you for teaching me something new about Joaquin Phoenix aside from him being a great actor. It is amazing that he became vegan at age 3. That was determination and must also have taken a lot of discipline as we all know what kids are at that age! I am also delighted that he was able to convince The Golden Globe awards to serve vegan. That is certainly an accomplishment. I now look at him through a different lens…… a man of character who is walking and living his “talk”.

    • Hi Ceci,

      That’s how I see him too, as a man who is living his talk. He is not only a wonderful actor but also a compassionate human being who uses his stardom to help animals, and this is why I respect and admire him 🙂
      Thank you for your comment!


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