Joaquin Phoenix says he’s ‘not going to force’ River, his son with Rooney Mara, to be vegan

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Charles Trepany, USA TODAY
Published 8:05 p.m. ET June 7, 2021

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Joaquin Phoenix gave an emotional tribute to his brother after accepting the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in “Joker.”

USA TODAY

Joaquin Phoenix has dedicated much of his life to veganism, but he says he’s not going to force his son to do the same.

The Oscar-winning actor, known for keeping his family life out of the spotlight, gave a rare comment to The Sunday Times about raising his baby son River with his partner, actress Rooney Mara.

The couple welcomed the child, whom they named after Phoenix’s late musician brother, in September 2020, according to reports. They addressed their son’s birth publicly for the first time the following month, in an op-ed for People about family separation at the border.

In the article published Sunday, the “Joker” star said he “would hope” River wants to be vegan, but it’s not for the actor to decide.

“I’m not going to impose my belief on my child,” he said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

But Phoenix did say he’s “going to educate (River) about the reality” of the meat and dairy industry.

“I’m not going to indoctrinate him with the idea that McDonald’s have a Happy Meal because there’s nothing (expletive) happy about that meal,” he continued. “And I’m not going to tell him that it’s OK to read books about all the wonderful little farm animals, and they say ‘oink oink oink’ and ‘moo moo moo,’ and not tell him that that’s what a hamburger is.”

He added: “So I’m not going to perpetuate the lie, but I’m also not going to force him to be vegan. I’ll support him. That’s my plan.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals crowned Phoenix the group’s person of the year in 2019. The actor has appeared in multiple PETA ad campaigns, including one in which he ‘drowned’ to “show how fish typically suffer in their last moments of life,” PETA said.

Phoenix has been vocal about his views on animal welfare, launching into an attack on the dairy industry during his acceptance speech for best actor at the 2020 Oscars.

“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,” he said. “And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

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The speech struck a nerve with dairy farmers, who said the actor isn’t educated about the issues he champions.

“We have a free country, with freedom of expression, but we do wish that Joaquin Phoenix would talk with us, rather than at us, because if he did he would learn a lot about the commitment that dairy farmers have for animal welfare,” said Alan Bjerga, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, following Phoenix’s Oscars speech.

Here’s every word of Joaquin Phoenix‘s poignant Oscar acceptance speech honoring brother River

Contributing: Erin Jensen, Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY; Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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