Vegan actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara recently welcomed their first child, River—named after Phoenix’s vegan brother who died in 1993. The news was revealed by Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky during the 2020 Zurich Film Festival. “He just got [a] baby, by the way,” Kossakovsky said. “A beautiful son called River.” Kossakovsky connected with Phoenix—who worked with Kossakovsky on his new film Gunda—after the vegan actor delivered his historic, animal-rights themed acceptance speech for the best actor award for his starring role in Joker during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards earlier this year. 

After quietly dating for several years, Phoenix and Mara got engaged in 2019. During the 2020 awards season, Phoenix and Mara publicly protested animal agriculture and had a hand in transitioning menus at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Oscars—all ceremonies that either fully eliminated animal products from their menus or substantially increased plant-based options this year. Immediately following Phoenix’s Oscar win, the duo—along with their mothers, Earthlings director Shaun Monson, Los Angeles Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur—headed to meat plant Manning Beef in California to rescue a cow (Liberty) and her calf (Indigo) from slaughter. Phoenix ended his Oscar acceptance speech with a quote from River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love—and peace will follow.” A photo of Indigo running in the field at Farm Sanctuary, overlaid with that same quote, was the final image Monson used in his video of the rescue.   

In addition to navigating parenthood, the couple is executively producing End of Medicine, a documentary that aims to expose the culpability of animal agriculture in creating massive public health threats such as antibiotic resistance, swine and bird flu, food-borne illness, MRSA, and, the current pandemic COVID-19.

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