View profile

Two celebrities speaking up for animals

The Vegan Profile
Two celebrities speaking up for animals
By Carole Audet • Issue #4 • View online
Celebrities using their voices to fight injustice—in any area—make a difference. Being a public figure means that they can reach a much wider audience, and people who admire their work are more likely to listen to their messages versus an unknown representative.
Amy Jean Davis, Organizer of LA Animal Save said about Joaquin Phoenix’s appearances at vigils, “When a celebrity is an animal rights activist, when they come down to a vigil and bear witness to the suffering of animals, we all know that that celebrity voice is going to be louder than our voices. And we want loud voices for the animals. The loudest of voices for the animals.”
This issue is about two such voices who are making a difference for animals.

Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
At the age of three, Joaquin Phoenix knew instinctively that the scene he was witnessing while onboard a cargo ship bound for the U.S. from Venezuela was wrong: fish were being bashed against the side of the boat fitted with nails for this purpose. That was the first time he realized where his food came from, and he was angry at his parents for not telling him before. This incident convinced him never to eat animals again.
When I learned of this story, I found it remarkable that he had that level of awareness as such a young age. Like many of us, I was completely oblivious of the animal agriculture industry until I did my research after I happened to see an undercover video taken in a factory farm. Once a person knows of the horrors of this industry, it’s difficult to understand how they can keep consuming animals. As Phoenix once said about what goes on behind the closed doors of factory farms and slaughterhouses, “I don’t understand how you could witness that and not be affect by it.”
At the age of 16, Phoenix quit school when he was sent a dead frog to dissect for biology class—an action that demonstrates considerable conviction at a time when most teenagers just want to fit in. Since then, he’s used his celebrity platform often in support of animals. He’s done many public service announcements for PETA, and he narrated Earthlings in 2005. In 2018, he and fiancée Rooney Mara—an activist in her own right—narrated the Australian documentary Dominion.
During his Oscar winning acceptance speech in 2020, Phoenix said, “Human beings at our best are so inventive, creative and ingenious and I think 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.” He finished his speech by quoting something his brother River wrote when he was 17: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”
Documentaries like Earthlings and Dominion are not for the faint of heart, but they are important works that show behind-the-scenes footage of the realities of what animals experience every day of their horrible lives on factory farms. These animals are merely existing temporarily to be abused, exploited and tormented for human purposes and money.
It’s difficult to understand how anyone can NOT be moved to change once they watch even five minutes of one of these documentaries. In fact, it was an undercover video from a dairy farm here in Canada, showing horrific abuse, that convinced me to shift from vegetarianism to veganism. I’m not entirely sure I watched the whole thing—I was traumatized and incensed, and there was NO going back. You can’t unsee that type of thing. Looking the other way so I could continue to eat cheese was not an option.
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
In 2019, at Anita Krajnc’s invitation, Phoenix took the time to attend the launch of the Be Fair Be Vegan campaign while in Toronto for the Joker premiere at TIFF. Anita had the opportunity of speaking with him and was then interviewed by Toronto Life Magazine about this event held at the St. George subway station. That’s who he is. If he can, he will, when it comes to using his voice to shine a light on an issue.
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals
Immediately after winning a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2020, Phoenix bore witness to pigs being sent to slaughter. He can be seen in the same attire he wore to the event when Jane Unchained News asked him why he attends these vigils. His response is simple, “Because I have to.” He goes on to say, “I think we have a moral obligation to talk about it and to expose it for what it really is.” By ‘we’ he means anyone who is aware of what goes on in the meat, dairy and egg industries, so that our collective voices bring awareness to those still in the dark—or in denial.
Shortly after his Oscar win in 2020, Phoenix saved two cows from slaughter. Two documentaries were made about these cows, Liberty—who is the mom and was named after Phoenix’s sister with her okay—was released in 2020. Indigo, which provides on update of Liberty’s calf, premiered on April 22nd this year.
Phoenix’s journey hasn’t been 100% perfect, and I doubt any vegan’s journey is. For example, in the past he’s taken roles when it called for him to use horses. I say ‘use’ not ‘ride’ because horses in the entertainment industry are used, and often abused. He regrets these choices, which he won’t make again.
I have an aversion to watching TV shows or movies that depict horses in some sort of human battle—when they are made to fall by having their heads aggressively pulled in one direction, and then falling on the hard ground, stabbed by fake swords, or whipped, spurred and run so hard that they are foaming at the mouth. All those scenes I find disturbing, and I don’t watch them. How many horses have sustained injuries while making entertainment for humans? How many have had to be euthanized?
Horses are brutalized each year in rodeos, the racing industry, and on busy city streets pulling carriages in heat and humidity for tourists. They have become slaves to humans for one reason: money.
Like all animals, horses are not here for our entertainment, or our consumption. Yes, that’s right, horses are killed for human consumption, even here in Canada. Canadian icon Jann Arden is on a mission to end the overseas live horse transport. Horses are regularly shipped in inhumane conditions to be killed for wealthy folks to eat raw.
While it’s not like anyone needs her permission to do so or that she has the power to prevent them from doing so, I’m not in agreement with her comment in a recent W5 report when she said, “If you want to eat horse meat, eat horse meat.” In my opinion, there are already far too many species used for human consumption. Nobody needs to eat horse meat. But my feeling is she said this to mollify those who eat horse meat and to refocus on the issue of live animal transport.
Arden goes on to say, “To watch horses go to their deaths, it’s horrible. I wish I’d never seen it; I wish I’d never heard it. It will be with me for the rest of my life. But because I’m able to bear witness, I can help them.”
Animal Save Movement
Horse arrives on the kill floor of a slaughterhouse in Uruguay.

These horses are beaten, kicked and receive electric shocks continuously. They are malnourished and exposed to extreme weather conditions in slaughterhouses.

No animal deserves this. SHARE if you agree! https://t.co/9bkCoHpYlx
Arden spoke passionately in defence of animals in a March 29, 2021 Mediaplanet interview published by the Toronto Star. She feels strongly that “meat has to go”, but since that’s not likely to happen soon, she’s adamant that industrial farming practices must change.
My research and outreach failed to confirm whether Arden is indeed vegan. If she isn’t and I were to speak with Arden directly, I would implore her to look into the horrific abuse present in the dairy and egg industries. If she thinks “meat has to go”, there’s no doubt in my mind she would think the same thing about dairy and eggs once she knew about the treatment of dairy cows and their babies, and why chickens are the most abused species on the planet. [UPDATE: Jann Arden posted on Twitter on June 12, in all caps: DAIRY IS RIDICULOUSLY CRUEL. CUT IT OUT. It’s looking more and more like she’s vegan.]
Arden’s current work for horses is in conjunction with the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC). In addition, she has her own website in support of this cause where you can sign a petition, donate to the CHDC, and buy branded #Horseshit merchandise, proceeds of course going to the cause. (The 10-minute W5 live horse transport segment in which Arden appears is linked on the CHDC website.)
If you’ve ever seen Arden in concert, or her popular self-named sitcom that pokes fun at her celebrity, you understand her use of the Horseshit.ca domain. Arden is unabashedly candid. Her way of being in the world forms part the humour that people are attracted to. Because of her popularity, her voice makes a difference for animals. Not a day goes by on her Twitter feed that she doesn’t post something in support of animals.
Joaquin Phoenix and Jann Arden get a lot of media coverage. I’ve linked relevant ones below, both video and print. Photos displayed in this issue are by Jo-Anne McArthur, founder of We Animals Media. I invite you to discover the work she and her team do for animals.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to any photos of Jann Arden.
What to read
The importance of animal activism with Jann Arden
The Importance of Animal Activism with Jann Arden - True North Living
Jann Arden fighting Alberta agriculture’s sinister secret — the selling and shipping of horses for sushi meat
What to watch
Joaquin Phoenix wins Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix RESCUES two cows from slaughter after Academy Awards
Indigo
How Joaquin Phoenix is turning Hollywood vegan
Joaquin Phoenix Shows His Support of BeFairBeVegan!
Please subscribe!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Carole Audet

Featuring brave and brilliant women and men
making a difference in the world.
The Vegan Profile is a twice-monthly newsletter, delivered to your inbox, profiling the people who are making a difference for the animals, the planet and you.

If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
Orillia, Ontario, Canada