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28 April 2002
Kerron Ramnath A Quick Study in Activism

By Paul Kinzie
From The Animals' Agenda - March/April 2002

Around May 2000, Kerron Ramnath became vegetarian. He did so because he "simply did not like killing things" and because he believes eating meat is "a violent way to live, and it did not need to be done." Kerron is a 20-year-old student at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. It did not take long for his commitment to deepen, or to have larger effects.

About six months later, Kerron accidentally logged on to www.factoryfarming.com, where he saw how meat, milk, and eggs are produced. He learned that, in the United States alone, about 200 million chicks -- the unwanted males of the egg industry -- are killed each year. They are, as Kerron describes, "thrown onto trash heaps to suffocate under their brothers, or ground up alive." He went to "the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals web site (www.peta-online.org) to confirm the story of factory farming. Satisfied that factory farming is a morally grave practice, Kerron became a vegan.

He also became an activist. He does "a lot of stuff at school"; for example, he is trying to get Huntingdon College to end a rat lab that it runs in conjunction with a course in behavioral psychology. Kerron notes that there is no ethics committee with authority over the lab, although an exploratory committee has been formed to study the issue in response to his actions. He also points out that there currently are no rules governing the treatment of rats under the Animal Welfare Act. Kerron has asked Huntingdon College for material relating to the lab but was refused.

In addition, Kerron participated in last year's PETA campaign against Burger King, and did a three-week internship at PETA in the summer. He attended the Animal Rights 2001 conference outside Washington, D.C., and plans to work with the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. The college student also took part in Farm Sanctuary's "Say No to Veal" campaign, which aims to get restaurants and stores to renounce the sale of veal and to educate consumers about the cruelty of keeping calves crated and anemic. While attending summer school at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Kerron was shocked by the number of places in the city that sell veal. He spoke with Jerry Gordon, owner of Eddie's Market, a grocery store near the Hopkins campus. Eddie's sold one veal item: a Swanson's Traditional Favorites Veal Parmagiana frozen dinner. Gordon agreed to remove the veal if Kerron would petition in front of the store for five days, eight hours a day. Kerron and a colleague did so, collecting 601 signatures on a petition urging Eddie's not to sell veal. Gordon signed a pledge renouncing the sale of veal, and the offending dinners were removed.

Although it was just a small step, the Baltimore success offers several lessons. One is that reasoned, cooperative approaches, in which definite objectives are set, can succeed. Another is that many people do deplore the suffering of animals, and are willing to express this to businesses they patronize. And lastly, one doesn't always need to have been schooled for years in activism in order to score a victory; rather, a creative approach to problem solving and persistence are sometimes all that is needed to make a difference.

Paul Kinzie is formerly the AWI Collection Coordinator for the Animal Rights Network Inc.

"Reprinted with permission from The Animals' Agenda, P.O. Box 25881, Baltimore, MD 21224; (410) 675-4566; www.animalsagenda.org.
Email: office@animalsagenda.org

For more articles like this one, please consider subscribing to The Animals' Agenda and help support animal rights news and information.

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