Joaquin Phoenix’s Ad Campaign for PETA, “Live Vegan” is No Joke

|Updated Dec 13, 2022
@PETA @JoaquinPhoenix

Here at The Beet we welcome any and all types of plant-based dieters -- for any reason or motivation --  and have made it our mission to focus on the health and wellbeing benefits of eating more plants as our first concern. Of course, eating a plant-based diet is better for the planet and for the animals that are farmed, but those reasons become personal decisions driven by values, priorities and awareness and we don't want to preach or judge personal decisions made by anyone who chooses to eat more plants. We are here for you.

But when Joaquin Phoenix released a new video, ad campaign and series of billboards over major cities like on Sunset in Los Angeles and here in NYC, above, of all things, a busy McDonalds, we had to stop and say:  Kudos to him for making such a simple argument, and one with such heartfelt integrity.

Phoenix poses with a chicken head covering his right eye, with both the bird and his eyes in perfect alignment, with the message: We are ALL Animals. The underline reads: End speciesism. Live vegan. Joaquin Phoenix for PETA.

When he speaks about his decision to become vegan at age 3, he speaks about a time on a freighter ship, with his family traveling from Venezuela to Miami to start their life fresh, and he tells Vanity Fair the story of his watching the ship's crew catch fish, then hit them against a wall of nails to kill them in order to eat them for supper. He recalls the traumatic scene as a moment when he realized where his food came from and asked his mother why she had kept this awful truth from him. From then on he no longer ate fish, meat or poultry.

Now, the Joker star and acclaimed actor describes his feelings about being vegan in binary terms that are both simple and elegant, in an interview with Brut.Media/US leading up to the release of the movie:

"I've been vegan since I was three. At that age, my and my siblings witnessed fish being killed in a really violent and aggressive way. And it was absolutely obvious that it wasn't something we wanted to participate in and we didn't want to support.

"To me, it just seems obvious. I don't want to cause pain to another living, empathetic creature. I don't want to take its babies away from it. I don't want to force it to be indoors and to be fattened up, just to be slaughtered. It's absurd and barbaric and I don't understand how you could witness that and not be affected by it.

"But certainly the effect that it has on our environment is devastating. So for me it's just my life and it's always been my life, and it's really  one of the most important things to me."

Watch the video here.

When you hear someone speak about their beliefs with such conviction, it's hard not to hold those same values in high esteem. Joaquin has been unapologetically true to his vegan values and it's both admirable and something we aspire to. That said, we want you to feel supported in the decisions you make around food and eating healthy, since The Beet is here for you and your food choices and world view. First, be healthy, and know that by eating plants you are helping the entire eco-system, climate and animals too.