Why Is Ryan Gosling Such A Hardcore Chicken Activist?

Regular readers of The Frisky are well aware of two indisputable facts about yours truly: I am a diehard Ryan Gosling fangirl, and I am terrified of birds. When Robyn sent me the link to a story about Ryan Gosling’s passionate open letter to the CEO of Costco, urging the company to go cage-free for their eggs, my first reaction – in addition to the usual heightened level of arousal that comes from merely seeing Ryan’s name – was “AWW, HE’S SO CARING — BUT OF ALL ANIMALS, WHY BIRDS? AND OF ALL THE BIRDS, WHY CHICKENS, AS OPPOSED TO, YOU KNOW, GEESE?” My second reaction was, Wait a second … haven’t I read this story before?

Sure enough, a quick Google search confirms my hunch that this is not the first time Ryan has gotten up on his soapbox to defend poultry rights. In fact, it appears the actor is a longtime chicken activist. The more pressing question, however, is WHY?

I decided to reach out to Gosling himself, via Twitter:

Ryan has not yet responded to my tweets, though I’m sure he’ll plop out an answer soon enough. In the meantime, let’s take a brief look at Gosling’s history with chickens, both on and off the poultry pulpit, before theorizing about why he has so many plucks to give about this particular cause.

July 2003: A 22-year-old Gosling, at that point best known for his roles in “Murder by Numbers” and “The United States of Leland,” writes a sternly-worded letter to the CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. (on behalf of PETA) about the conditions in which KFC chickens are raised and slaughtered.

2008: Gosling invests his money as part owner of Los Angeles eatery Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant which currently serves, amongst other things, farm-raised lemon chicken couscous, and has no doubt served some type of chicken dish since opening its doors. As of at least 2012, Gosling was still an investor in Tagine, though he had not been seen there in months.

May 2008: Gosling pens another letter, on behalf of PETA, to the CEO of KFC Canada, demanding better treatment for their chickens. “By adopting the basic recommendations made by PETA and scientific experts (including raising birds in a more natural manner and employing less cruel slaughter methods), you could dramatically improve the lives and deaths of chickens raised and killed for KFC Canada.”

July 2011: Ryan Gosling is spotted buying a chicken gyro from a Halal cart following the New York premiere of “Crazy Stupid Love,” confirming that his chicken activism does not preclude him from chowing down on some delicious eats.

August 2011: Ryan tells interviewer Brad Blanks that he bulked up for his role in the film (remember those abs?) by eating “a lot of chicken — just chicken, chicken, chicken.”

September 2011: Gosling writes a letter, again on behalf of PETA, to the USDA, asking them to adopt “whole-house gassing,” which renders chickens unconscious with carbon dioxide before they are killed.

December 2011: Gosling joins Zooey Deschanel and eight other actors in sending a letter to McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner, asking the fast food chain to buy eggs from cage-free suppliers.

July 2013: Ryan takes a short detour in his chicken activism to speak out on behalf of pigs, writing an op-ed for The Globe And Mail called “A Tiny Cage Is Not A Life,” about mother pigs being kept in gestation cages. The word ‘chicken’ does not appear in the piece.

June 2015: Ryan writes the aforementioned open letter to Costco, following a Humane Society investigation, demanding that they go cage-free with their eggs.

Clearly, while Ryan has showed himself to be an animal rights activist in general, he has a feather up his butt about the treatment of chickens in particular. You might even say he’s plucking mad about it. So why chickens? Why not goslings, aka baby geese? That would be better for his overall brand and would lend itself to some truly clever slogans that might inspire others to flock to the front lines. After all, one of his fan-anointed nicknames is Baby Goose. But no, Gosling’s, ahem, pet cause is chicken rights. Why, dammit, why? As Ryan still has not replied to my tweets — maybe it would help if you guys retweeted? — I would like to propose a few theories:

  1. Ryan Gosling’s favorite food is chicken and he would like to eat it for every meal, but does not feel comfortable doing so unless he knows the chicken was treated humanely. Most people take up causes that impact them directly and Ryan’s goal is to make sure that every bite of chicken that enters his mouth was compassionately raised and slaughtered.
  2. Ryan Gosling once had a pet chicken, but it was chicken-napped and sold to a shitty chicken farm, where it spent its final days in a tiny cage. Ryan never forgave himself for not saving his pet chicken’s life, and his activism is done in its memory.
  3. Ryan Gosling, high on some psychotropic drug, had a vision that he was a chicken in a past life and relived the experience of having his head chopped off. The memories have been haunting him ever since, and fighting for the rights of chickens has been his way of finding closure.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. My investigation is ongoing, and I’d love to hear your theories as I await Ryan’s response. Cluck away!