By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
There was a clear winner that took centre stage at this year’s Oscars, and it wasn’t an actor or actress, director or producer — no, it was veganism.
With the mainstream emergence of veganism, more people are becoming aware of the cruel practices that are normal in milk production. Now, they are even talking about it at the Oscars.
It was led by vegan actor Joaquin Phoenix who won the Best Actor Award. Phoenix’s acceptance speech encompassed the fight against injustice, animal and environmental rights, and the need to stop consuming animal-based foods.
Phoenix has been a vegan since he was three years old and is closely involved with PETA and other animal rights organisations. He focused particularly on the dairy industry to highlight that all forms of animal agriculture, not just the meat industry, are cruel.
“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable,” Phoenix said on stage at the Oscars — among the biggest platform any person could ever dream of speaking from. “Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
I’ve written extensively of the reality of dairy farming that can be shocking for people who have always assumed milking a cow is harmless. From the age of 15 months, female cows are artificially inseminated. Once born, the calf will usually be taken away within 36 hours. This is so farmers can take the milk the mothers are making. Experts say that a strong bond is formed quickly after birth and the separation is traumatising for both cow and calf.
If the calf is male, he will be either killed immediately or sold on. If it’s female, she will follow her mother in the cycle of forced pregnancies until she is too old to carry on, after which she will be killed.
At the Oscars, Phoenix went on to say, “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.”
“We’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” he added.
The reality and truths surrounding the need to go plant based are working. All ceremonies this year, including the Oscars, the BAFTAs, and other award winning ceremonies have either fully eliminated animal products from their menus or substantially increased plant-based options.
The actor offered solutions to move toward a more ethical world. “I think when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create and develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment,” he said.
The rise of veganism is hitting the dairy industry hard. Sales of plant-based milks are soaring. In fact, in Europe, the average person’s milk consumption has fallen by 50% since the 1950s.
While the Oscars celebrated the best movies of the last year, it’s once again thrown veganism into the spotlight for millions and millions of viewers worldwide — another achievement for the plant based movement, and our journey towards a more ethical, sustainable world.
The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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