Joaquin Phoenix has received PETA’s 2019 Person of the Year award in recognition of his dedicated advocacy for animal welfare and rights. Frankly, given the prominence of his actions this year, the result was a shoo-in – any betting establishment would long since have stopped taking bets on the outcome.
The citation recognises that “Joaquin 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”.
PETA has honoured “his dedication to spreading the message that when it comes to feeling fear, pain, and love, a human being is no different from a hen or a hamster”.
The actor has won plaudits for his performance in The Joker, which serves as an interesting parallel for the vegan issues. Joaquin Phonix and Arthur Fleck are a perfect metaphor for the cognitive dissonance that we observe around vegan issues. We watch a disturbed character who is treated unkindly at every turn in his life, lurch into a world of insanity and violence. To those humans who do not accept the concept of mankind’s dominion over animals, this is an exact parallel to the way that we treat animals. We treat them as chattels to be routinely treated with contempt regardless of the pain that we cause. They are commodities there just to please our taste buds. They are not sentient beings to whom suffering is caused and who love their babies.
Absurd and barbaric
The actor has been a vegan since he was three years old when his siblings and he saw fishes being killed in a violent and aggressive way. It was immediately obvious that this was not something that he could participate in or support.
The citation quoted the Hollywood actor:
“I don’t want to cause pain to another living, empathetic creature. I don’t want to take [their] babies away from [them]. I don’t want to force [them] to be indoors and fattened up just to be slaughtered. It is absurd and barbaric.”
The award recognised that in the past year, Joaquin appeared on PETA US “We Are All Animals” billboards in New York’s Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles as part of the PETA campaign. He also joined California lawmakers to announce legislation banning travelling wild-animal circuses, and led a memorial service at a National Animal Rights Day march in Hollywood on 2nd June 2019 whilst cradling a dead chicken.
During the Toronto International Film Festival on 9th September 2019, the actor took time out from the launch of The Joker, at the invitation of Be Fair Be Vegan to join vegan activists in a protest in the subway.
He is an executive producer of The Animal People, a documentary shortly to be released following animal rights activists who came up against powerful vested industry interests.
He has over the years been involved in several vegan documentaries. He narrated Earthlings in 2005, produced What the Health in 2017 and was one of the narrators of Dominion in 2018.