Joaquin Phoenix brought the house down last night at the Oscars with an impassioned plea to consider ditching dairy. He won Best Actor for his role in Joker.

Phoenix used his acceptance speech to make the point that having a platform allows him to give voice to the voiceless, whether that be repressed groups or the rights of animals.

From the podium, an emotional Phoenix called out the viewers in the room and at home to consider giving up dairy. He also encouraged everyone to consider all rights—whether race, gay rights, or animal rights—as on a spectrum. He then went on to ask that we consider what we as individuals can do to help the planet, as a species that has "plundered" our environment for our own needs.

Innovating a Dairy-Free Future

In the plea, Phoenix pointed out that leaving dairy behind would not involve sacrifice but ingenuity as innovation is directed toward the new products and foods to replace meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. Then, in an incredibly moving moment, he quoted a lyric written by his late brother, River, written when he was 17. The beloved young actor and musician wrote: "Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow."

"I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room," Phoenix said to start, "because we share the same love --the love of film, and this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life and I don't know what I'd be without it.

"But I think the greatest gift that it's given me is the opportunity to use our voice to the voiceless.

"I've been thinking a lot about the distressing issues that we are facing collectively and I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see the commonality. Whether we're talking about gender inequality, or racism, or queer rights, or indigenous rights or animal rights, we are 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." Applause rung out here. "I think that we've become very disconnected from the natural world, and many of us, what we're guilty of is an egocentric world view. The belief that we're the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its natural resources. 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. And then we take her milk, that's intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something --to give something up.

"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." Applause

"Now, I have been a scoundrel in my life... I have been selfish, I've been cruel at times, hard to work with and I'm grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. and I think that's when we are at our best. .. when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes but when we help each other to grow when we educate each other and guide each other toward redemption. that's the best of humanity.

"When he was 17 my brother wrote this lyric: Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow. thank you."

The Future is Dairy-Free

Phoenix left the stage visibly shaken to cheers from the crowd and went on to enjoy a vegan burger with fiancée Rooney Mara after the awards.

Whether the at-home viewers were swayed is anyone's guess. On our side of the TV, two reactions occurred this morning. My daughter living in LA called to discuss the awards and said, "Mom, I think vegan is now going to be the new normal. Everyone is going to want to be vegan." She long ago gave up milk and dairy and chooses almond milk these days instead.

Then, at the deli where I was buying a salad and soup, the woman next to me asked, "Which of the soups does not contain dairy? I don't want dairy." Now, this is the Upper East Side of New York, where many people have gone dairy-free, but I was dying to ask her: Did you see the Oscars last night? I decided to leave her alone in her dairy-free ordering. I walked out of the deli and thought that maybe my daughter is right. Dairy-free, plant-based, or vegan is the new normal. I can only hope so, for the sake of our own health, the planet, and the arguments Joaquin Phoenix made.


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