Reading Time: 2 minutes Joaquin Phoenix has been criticized for his recent comments about the dairy industry. Credit: Sipa USA / Alamy Stock
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Joaquin Phoenix has faced backlash following his controversial Oscar’s speech, in which the vegan actor called out the dairy industry.

While accepting his statuette for Best Actor for his role in Joker, Phoenix made a now-famous speech about oppression, human’s exploitation of the natural world, and cancel culture.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar speech

Speaking about dairy during his speech, Phoenix said: “I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.

“We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.”


Following the event, an opinion piece published by the New York Post branded the entertainer a “disgrace.”

The article, titled Oscars 2020: Bong Joon Ho is a saint, Joaquin Phoenix is a disgrace, criticized Phoenix, describing him as “rambling like a street bum.”

The author sarcastically refers to the speech as highlighting “the unspeakable injustices of cow’s milk…to virtually no one’s amusement.”

Some farmers appeared to be in agreement, taking to social media to air their grievances. “I think Joaquin Phoenix is a pompous, entitled, first-world, out of touch, value signaling troll, and rewearing a suit and throwing shade at cows shouldn’t make him an environmental expert,” wrote one rancher, who calls herself The Meat Lady.

Farmer Bryn Davies also criticized the speech, sharing a video of himself “raising a glass” of cow’s milk to Phoenix, or “the biggest flog on Twitter [flog is Australian slang for a contemptible, often arrogant person].”


But not everyone was critical of the public act.

Australian singer-songwriter Ashton Irwin Tweeted about the speech to his 6.3 million followers, saying: “Not only did Joaquin wake up as an Oscar winner. He displayed bravery and stopped acting in front of his largest audience yet. I aspire to speak up and be unafraid of truth. Our heroes are slowly coming to the forefront of pop culture and are no longer in black and white.”

Mercy for Animals quoted Phoenix’s speech, adding: “Retweet if you know Joaquin Phoenix’s powerful words at the Oscars will go down in history.”

Phoenix even managed to inspire some viewers – including Girls creator Lena Dunham – to go vegan as a result.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.