The actor took home the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for his performance in Joker and then quickly made his way to the Farmer John Cloughtery Packing Co., where he joined others “bearing witness” to pigs entering the slaughterhouse in an event hosted by Los Angeles Animal Save.
“Most people don’t really know of the torture and murder in the meat and dairy industry,” Phoenix, 45, still dressed in his award show tuxedo, told vlogger Jane Velez-Mitchell in a video shared on Facebook. “I’ve seen it for what it is, so I have to be here.”
He continued, “We have moral obligations to talk about it and expose it for what it really is. 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.”
The actor, who also won a Golden Globe earlier this month, said several of his friends in the industry have “been really receptive” to his activism.
“There is a change that is happening and it’s now just becoming undeniable,” he said. “Slowly but surely we’re getting there.”
“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,” Phoenix continued. “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.”
Phoenix praised the Hollywood Foreign Press Association earlier this month after the organization hosted a vegan dinner for the Golden Globes — the first time they served a vegan menu.
“I thought it was excellent,” he told reporters at the time. “I was so moved by the decision to make tonight plant-based. It was such an important step, the SAG Awards, Critics Choice Awards, Governor’s Ball and whatever else there is needs to do it as well. Animal culture is the third leading cause of climate change, uses 70 percent of the water and uses the most water.”
“The statistics are staggering and I think we’re coming to a point now where the evidence is irrefutable and undeniable,” he added. “I think now using animal product is no longer just a personal choice, it is having a drastic consequence on the rest of the world and all of us so I think it was incredibly brave and compassionate of the HFPA to make that bold decision and I really commend them for that.”
Phoenix’s fiancée, the actress Rooney Mara, is also vegan and a staunch animal rights activist. In June 2019, the couple marched together in West Hollywood, California, during the National Animal Rights demonstration.
The actors wore black T-shirts and pants as they held dead birds in their gloved hands during the demonstration.
Los Angeles Animal Save hosts pig vigils every Sunday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The organization also hosts vigils for chickens and cows.