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Famous Vegetarians

Think Vegetarianism is just a passing fad? Think again! There are hundreds of famous vegetarians of the present and the past. Here's some very interesting insights into the world of vegetarian celebrities.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin PhoenixBorn the 3rd of 5 children to John and Arlyn Phoenix in 1974, Joaquin Phoenix spent his first six years in Puerto Rico and traveling around Central and South America. It was early in life that Joaquin became a vegetarian. He tells the story of how he was fishing with his family on a boat and how troubled he was when he understood what was happening to the fish as it was pulled out of the water. Joaquin Phoenix has been a vegan since the age of 3.

Inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves with his dad, Joaquin had begun going by "Leaf" at age four. He possibly took on his name change to complement the nature-related names of his siblings: River, Liberty, Rain and Summer. This is the name he would use as a child actor.

His parents home-schooled the children as the family traveled around the world. Encouraged by their parents the children all demonstrated a natural creative ability. And, upon returning to the states, the parents hired an agent, who eventually got the five children acting work.

His older brother River was already acting on the big screen but 8-year old Joaquin (going by Leaf) could be spotted on hit TV shows such as Hill Street Blues and Murder She Wrote. Joaquin felt the call to acting at an early age. "I've always felt when I was younger that there was something missing. I guess you go through that growing up — you want something. As soon as I started working as an actor, I just felt this void had filled."

Although home-schooled, Joaquin dropped out of school in the 9th grade to pursue acting full time.

His first big break came in 1989 with a part in the hit Steve Martin comedy, Parenthood. Curiously, he stepped away from acting and moved with his father to Mexico for a time. He emerged from his hiatus to star in the well-received Nicole Kidman movie, To Die for and became a household name with his Academy Award winning performance in Gladiator.

While Joaquin phoenix has played larger than life characters such as Johnny Cash and Commodus in Gladiator, he is a bit self-deprecating and low-key when talking about his own life. He said, "If you just made a movie about a guy that walked around a lot, talked to friends and played on the computer, that would be me."

A big music fan, he sites Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and James Brown among his favorites, but he only learned to sing and play guitar when he landed the role of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. He even started writing songs, just ''to see what it was like to construct a verse, a melody and all that.''

Joaquin remains close to his surviving siblings and is a devoted uncle as well.

Joaquin Phoenix is set to star in two upcoming movies, We Own the Night and Reservation Road.

New York Times Style Magazine

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