Oscar and Bafta nominee Joaquin Phoenix has made a plea for people to “go vegan” as he led an animal equality protest in central London.
The actor gathered activists for a protest where he dropped a 390-square-foot banner from Tower Bridge that declared: “Factory farming destroys our planet. Go vegan.”
The protest was held ahead of Sunday’s Bafta award ceremony, where he is nominated for best lead actor prize for Joker.
It is the latest protest campaign by the staunch animal rights activist, who has been a vegan since he was three.
After the protest, Phoenix, 45, responded to mounting criticism that people such as actors who work in glamourous industries are not in a position to preach about the climate crisis because they live in a world of frequent flights and high carbon footprints. “We are all hypocrites in some ways. We all struggle with what the right thing to do is and we make mistakes.
“The industry does consume a lot of power and a lot of resources so the way to mitigate that for me is to maintain a vegan lifestyle.”
Phoenix had convinced the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the Golden Globes, to serve its first all-vegan menu at the ceremony last month.
He said: “I think that is part of our appeal to the award ceremonies because there are so many people flying in to the awards and the cars they use – the one thing they can do is to make the meal plant-based.
“Instead of being judgmental and attacking each other, we should try to help each other and educate each other about how we can change,” he said.
“There are many improvements I can make in my own life and I am trying to do that.”
Phoenix attended the protest in support of Animal Equality, an international organisation that works with society, governments and companies to try and end cruelty to farmed animals.
Organisers have vowed to make this year’s Baftas carbon neutral.
The red carpet itself will be recycled and the international stars walking it, such as nominees Brad Pitt, Bong Joon-ho and Charlize Theron, are being encouraged to offset the carbon that will be expended getting them to the event.
uests are also being encouraged to opt for more planet-friendly fashion choices by wearing something they already own, renting an outfit, wearing vintage – or opting for a sustainable designer such as Stella McCartney. Bafta is working with the London College of Fashion’s Centre of Sustainability to offer advice to guests on dressing more sustainably.
Single-use plastic will also be banned from the event and the goody bags, usually filled with luxury items, will be replaced by a “gifting wallet” made of recycled plastic. The meal served at the ceremony will include a vegan starter and pudding, the implication being, however, that the main course will remain non-vegan.
“Like everyone, we are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change,” said Bafta chair Pippa Harris, “and it just feels like we can no longer do nothing. That is just not acceptable.”