Following his win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, the Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix attended a “pig vigil” outside a Downtown Los Angeles slaughterhouse.
Joining alongside several activists, the acclaimed actor told Jane Unchained News that he regularly comes to these “pig vigils” due to the “torture and murder” of animals he has seen in the meat and dairy industry.
“Most people don’t really know of the torture and murder in the meat and dairy industry,” Phoenix said. “I’ve seen it for what it is, so I have to be here.”
Phoenix went on to lament that people have been brainwashed to believe animals live happy lives on farms, arguing that those who know the truth have an obligation to fight back.
“We have moral obligations to talk about it and expose it for what it really is,” he continued. “We are so indoctrinated with these happy images of animals on farms, on the covers of meat containers, at restaurants and it’s a lie. I think people need to know the truth and we have an obligation to do that. Those of us that have seen it for what it really is, we have an obligation to expose it, so I have to be here.”
Despite the event’s somberness, Phoenix ultimately expressed hope and optimism.
“There is a change that is happening and it’s now just becoming undeniable. Slowly but surely we’re getting there,” he said. “As heartbreaking as it is when we’re here giving water to the pigs I have a certain optimism in our community and how committed everyone is. People come down here week after week after week so I had to come here tonight and support and it’s a little antidote to what I was just given, so I’m blessed to be here.”
Joaquin Phoenix has been an outspoken vegan and animal rights activist for many years. Speaking with Collider in 2018, the “Joker” star said his passion for the cause came after seeing a fish killed on a boat as a kid.
“Really it was seeing these fish being killed when I was on a boat as a kid,” he said. “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. It wasn’t just me, it was my siblings, all of my siblings, except for the youngest, Summer, she wasn’t born. My mom was pregnant with her. 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’s amazing. 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.”
While accepting the award for Best Actor at the Golden Globes, Phoenix also called out Hollywood for not practicing what they preach regarding climate change.
“It’s really nice that so many people have sent their well wishes to Australia but we have to do more than that,” Phoenix said. “Hopefully, we can be unified and actually make some changes. It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives. We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards.”