The 15-year-old Martinsburg resident is one of 10 finalists in the Cutest Vegetarian Alive contest, which is sponsored by peta2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
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The Cutest Vegetarian Alive contest is a spin-off of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Alive Contest.
"We think compassion is really cute, and we want to spotlight it," said Rachel Owen, PETA's assistant manager of Youth Campaigns.
Corey said he began eating a vegetarian diet seven months ago after reading the book "Skinny B ----." He had bought the book for his mother because he said he thought she would enjoy it, and ended up reading it for himself.
"It had a lot in it about the treatment of animals in factory farms, and health reasons as well," he said.
Corey said he felt the most compelling part of the book was the description of the treatment of factory farm chickens. He said the chickens are kept in very small cages and that male chicks are thrown away because they are not worth as much as female chicks.
Since reading the book, Corey has done additional research and read other books about vegetarianism and veganism. Four months ago, he made the transition to a vegan diet, which means that he does not eat any animal products.
Corey's mother, BJ, learned of the competition on Facebook, and encouraged her son to nominate himself.
"It sounded like a neat idea, and I thought I would try," he said. The home-schooled junior was one of 120 male entrants, and the 205 votes he received made him one of the top five vote-getters.
"The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness for vegetarianism and veganism in a positive way," Owen said. "Corey is an excellent example of this. As a vegan, he is saving over 100 animals per year just by not eating them."
Owen said participants self-nominated themselves and filled out a detailed questionnaire that asked them to describe their activism and other aspects of their vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The top five vote-getters and the top five judges' picks moved on to the final round of voting. The winner of the contest will receive a professional photo shoot and star in a peta2 ad. Voting ends at noon Tuesday, May 31, and the winner will be announced on Monday, June 6.
Animal rights are one of Corey's main objections to eating meat, and he believes that they are an important issue. "We were all put on this earth by the same God. We should have dominion over (animals), but we should not hurt them," he said.
Corey said he would not be opposed to people eating animals if the animals were raised humanely and responsibly. "Free-range wouldn't be as bad as factory farms," he said, "I wouldn't do it, but I wouldn't mind other people doing it."
Corey cited health concerns as his main objection to eating humanely raised animals. He noted that a vegan diet is associated with lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, and good digestive health.
In the future, Corey said he hopes to get involved with the nonprofit Fiona's Fight, a Berkeley Springs, W.Va.-based group devoted to raising awareness about animal cruelty. His participation in the Cutest Vegetarian contest is his first involvement with PETA
Corey's family has not entirely embraced his new lifestyle.
"I wish everyone was (vegan), but it's only me, my mom and my brother just started last week," he said, noting that his other three siblings and his father, Rick, still eat meat.
Corey said one of the downsides to being vegan is that he can't eat certain foods.
"It's definitely hard sometimes, but (there are) some substitutes that are pretty good."
Corey said he mostly misses eating doughnuts, and that his favorite vegan meal is lentil tacos.
Corey said people have mixed reactions when they learn that he is vegan. "It varies from person to person," he said. "Some have definitely gotten defensive, others are interested and ask questions."
Want to vote?
To vote for Corey Ketterman as peta2's Cutest Vegetarian Alive, text COREY to 73822.