Joaquin Phoenix has been vegan for decades. | Getty

(Updated November 28, 2019). Vegan actor and activist Joaquin Phoenix has been spreading the plant-based message for decades. Back in the 1990s, he appeared in an ad urging the public to save turkeys on Thanksgiving by choosing plant-based foods instead.

An instrumental figure in the vegan space for some time, Phoenix has followed a plant-based diet for 40 years.

Last year, the “Joker” star appeared on an anti-wool billboard – strategically situated close to New York’s Fashion Week: Men’s. The billboard urged passersby to ditch the cruel material and “Wear Vegan.”

He also featured as a narrator on the 2018 vegan feature-length film “Dominion,” which exposes the harsh reality of the meat industry.

But one of Phoenix’s first forays into activism took place between twenty to thirty years ago.

In the 90s ad, a young Phoenix moves around a supermarket. He is choosing various fruits and vegetables to an upbeat, happy-sounding soundtrack. The music suddenly transitions to dark and foreboding, the camera cutting to piles of dead turkeys ready to be purchased.

Holidays can be murder on turkeys. Let’s make this one for the birds,” Phoenix says to the camera. Accompanying his grave expression is a hotline phone number that viewers could call for meat-free recipes.

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Other celebrities have followed in Phoenix’s footsteps and urged people to choose vegan food during the holiday period. Last year, vegetarian “Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco asked the public to adopt turkeys.

“Each year 46 million turkeys are inhumanely raised and slaughtered for Thanksgiving,” Cuoco said in a video created with farm animal rescue organization Farm Sanctuary.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith assumed a similar position in 2018, encouraging people to consider adopting a turkey, highlighting the animal’s kind nature.

More people than ever choosing to eschew meat and instead eat plant-based foods.

According to a recent study by market intelligence company Numerator, 80 percent of Americans are open to swapping meat for vegan food. It stated that consumers “love the taste.” They also love the “perceived healthiness, and the fact that these products don’t involve harming animals and are better for the environment.