Celebrity Parents Joaquin Phoenix Hopes Son River Will Be Vegan but Won't 'Force' Anything: 'I'll Support Him' "I'm not going to impose my belief on my child," says Joaquin Phoenix, who welcomed a baby boy last year with Rooney Mara By Benjamin VanHoose Benjamin VanHoose Twitter Benjamin VanHoose is an Associate Editor on the Movies team at PEOPLE. He's worked at PEOPLE for over three years as a writer and reporter across our Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams, covering everything from the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial to the Oscars. He regularly covers red carpet events and has interviewed stars like Drew Barrymore, Ryan Reynolds and Kirsten Dunst. He previously worked as a copy editor at Topix Media Lab. People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 7, 2021 12:31 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Joaquin Phoenix will let his child make their own lifestyle choices. The Oscar winner, 46, tells U.K. newspaper The Times that when it comes to passing down his vegan lifestyle to his son River, he'll let him make his own informed decisions. Phoenix and fiancée Rooney Mara welcomed their first baby last year, naming him after Phoenix's late brother who died in 1993. "Well, certainly I would hope that [he is vegan], but I'm not going to impose my belief on my child. I don't think that's right," says the Joker actor. "I'm going to educate him about the reality. I'm not going to indoctrinate him with the idea that McDonald's have a Happy Meal because there's nothing f-----g happy about that meal. And I'm not going to tell him that it's okay to read books about all the wonderful little farm animals, and they say 'oink oink oink' and 'moo moo moo', and not tell him that that's what a hamburger is." "So I'm not going to perpetuate the lie, but I'm also not going to force him to be vegan," adds Phoenix. "I'll support him. That's my plan." Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday. Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Rooney Mara Opens Up About 'Special' First Mother's Day as a New Mom: 'I Feel So Fortunate' Phoenix has previously raised awareness about climate change and animal abuse while encouraging fans to switch to vegan lifestyles. In an open letter as part of Farm Sanctuary's Mother's Day campaign last month, Mara, 36, opened up about life as a new mom while shedding light on mothers in the animal kingdom. "As a new mom, Mother's Day has taken on a special meaning this year. Raising our baby, River, has opened my heart to a whole new life filled with hope and more determination than ever to create a kinder and more sustainable world," wrote Mara. "I feel so fortunate to be able to nurture my son in all of the ways that nature intended," she continued, "and I wish all mothers in the animal kingdom could experience that sacred maternal bond with their young, devoid of exploitation by humans."