Baywatch star Pamela Anderson fed Arizona prisoners a meat-free lunch on Wednesday and they appeared to like it. Anderson visited the Maricopa County Jail at the invitation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who took meat off jailhouse menus in September 2013 as we previously reported. The vegetarian policy has saved the county at least $200,000 a year, the sheriff’s office estimates.
“I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out,” Pamela said in a statement. “Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy.”
“I don’t know why every other jail and prison wouldn’t want to copy what we’ve accomplished here,” Arpaio said. “It works on every level: financially for the taxpayer, healthwise for the inmate.” His inmates’ meals, Arpaio said, “are both nutritious and well balanced, and lower in cost than you’ll find in any other jail anywhere.”
The road to a vegetarian diet sometimes follows an unusual route. In this case it started out as measure instituted by a controversial Sheriff to make a harsh environment for inmates. Then it was to save money on the food, and later on the healthcare costs of the prisoners. And now, finally, the Sheriff himself. The 82 year old Arpaio started his own vegetarian diet on Wednesday.
The benefits of a vegetarian diet go beyond health in a prison setting. Several studies have now linked better nutrition to behavioral improvements as well. Let’s hope the veg-in-prison trend continues.