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Joaquin Phoenix champions a big night for vegans at the Oscars

Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix, winner of the lead actor Oscar for “Joker” on Sunday, spent much of his speech talking about animal rights.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It was a night of laughs and celebrations and a handful of triumphant moments for vegans.

Billie Eilish, Natalie Portman, Cynthia Erivo and Joaquin Phoenix were among the animal-free celebrities who attended the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre.

Phoenix spent much of his Oscars speech for lead actor in “Joker” talking about animal rights and the cruelty of the factory farming industry.

“I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice,” he said. “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.

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Joaquin Phoenix gave a weighty speech about commonalities, cows and second chances after winning the Oscar for lead actor Sunday night. Read the transcript.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish aren’t mistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up.”

Eilish gave a touching performance of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” during the show’s In Memoriam section, which honored Kirk Douglas, Kobe Bryant and others who died in the last year.

Erivo also put on quite a show when she sang “Stand Up,” from the film “Harriet,” which earned her two Oscar nominations, including for lead actress and original song.

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal-rights organization, saluted the vegan Hollywood A-listers on Twitter throughout the night. It even pointed out that the CGI-animated musical “Cats” left out real animals. PETA also gave a nod to Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho for his 2017 drama “Okja,” which the organization claimed turned many carnivores into vegans.


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