The vegan meals, which launched on August 1, ‘meet the requirements of kosher and halal diets as well as that of all other religions’ according to Department of Corrections director David Shinn.
Previously, Jewish and Muslim prisoners had been accommodated with specially-prepared foods, but now they will be served the Common Fare Meals, which are also available to all other prisoners as long as they give 30 days’ notice to get on or off plant-based meals.
‘More inclusive meals’
“The new Common Fare Meal provides accommodations and the ability to be more inclusive for the changing dietary needs of those incarcerated,” a DOC spokesperson told the Phoenix New Times.
“The CFM meal has been reviewed by Imams and Rabbis as a plant-based meal that meets Halal, Kosher, and vegan religious standards. It has been certified to meet federal nutritional standards by a registered dietician with the contracted food services provider.”
According to the Phoenix New Times, the new meals have been met with some resistance. The outlet cites Corene Kendrick, staff attorney at non-profit prisoner advocacy group Prison Law Office.
She said prisoners had contacted the organization before the new meals launched complaining that they were not vegan. While Kendrick admitted she didn’t know what the Common Fare Meals would contain, they may feature beans and soy. “It’s not going to be healthy,” she said.
Vegan meals in prison
While some are unhappy about the changes, animal advocate and actor Pamela Anderson has long spoken out about the benefits of serving animal-free food in prisons.
Writing to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year in a bid to persuade him to serve vegan meals in prisons, Anderson said: “Other prison systems have seen the benefits of serving inmates meat-free meals.
“The Maricopa County Jail in Arizona, for example, reported that it reduced costs by $273,000 when it switched to all-vegetarian food for its 8,000 inmates. I traveled to Phoenix to make lunch for inmates to promote that policy.”