Arizona’s Maricopa County Jail received a visit recently from Baywatch actress, model, and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson, at the request of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to promote meat-free menus for the prisoners.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Arpaio took meat off the jail’s menu back in September 2013 as one of his strategies to cut down on the taxpayer money that the jail uses. The Phoenix Business Journal has stated that Arpaio has also begun to work with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to begin serving vegan meals in the county’s jails, in an attempt to increase the nutrition of inmates’ diets as well.
His new connection with PETA is how Arpaio got in touch with Anderson, who has become an avid PETA spokeswoman in recent years.
Photos from the April 15 event, held at the County’s Food Services factory, show Anderson and Arpaio serving up vegan meals to the inmates that work there.
A memo from the Sheriff’s office has stated that eliminating meat from the jail menus has saved taxpayers about $200,000 annually, and restricting inmates’ diets even more with vegan diets (which prohibit all animal by-products) will ensure that these diets are both cost-effective and nutritious.
Some critics of Arpaio’s policy change are skeptical that the healthier diets will appeal to inmates, and that significant weight loss could just as easily be a result of not eating the food at all.
But as Anderson explained during the recent event, “Jails are full of people wanting to change,” and considering that about 56% of American adults want to lose weight, changing the diets of inmates and teaching them about healthy eating could be a good place to start.
“It’s not just a money issue because health is important; it’s 2,600 calories, and that’s a lot of calories,” Arpaio explained. “They [the inmates] may not like the food, but if they don’t, the other alternative is to not go to jail.”