Arizona prisons now have plant-based options. The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) is replacing Halal and Kosher food with vegan meals.
The ADOC made the switch on August 1. Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesperson for the ADOC told the Phoenix New Times that “the new Common Fare Meal provides accommodations and the ability to be more inclusive for the changing dietary needs of those incarcerated.”
Muslim and Jewish prisoners who previously ate special diets to meet their religious needs must now eat the common fare meal. They are no longer able to choose what food they eat based on their religious preferences.
Patrick Bearup, a death row prisoner and practicing Messianic Jew, says this is a violation of his constitutional rights. He has filed a federal complaint in response.
Lamoreaux says that Imams and Rabbis reviewed the vegan meal option and say it “meets Halal, Kosher, and vegan religious standards.”
Prisoners who do not require Kosher or Halal meals can also request the vegan common fare meal option.
Prisons Opt For Plant-Based Options
Arizona isn’t the first state to offer vegan meal options to prisoners.
In December 2019, the NYC Department of Correction introduced Meatless Mondays for all inmates, correctional officers, and general jail staff.
Correction Commission Cynthia Brann says the NYC Department of Correction’s regular menu already exceeds many FDA standards. “[B]y joining the Meatless Mondays initiative we are providing more nutritious options once a week,” she told the New York Daily News.
“We are also proud to be encouraging a healthier planet with less of a carbon footprint,” Brann added. “Our hope is that individuals leave our custody more mindful of the benefits of a reduced meat diet, both for themselves and for the planet.”
In September 2018, the former governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed SB 1138 into law, requiring state hospitals and prisons to offer at least one healthy vegan option to patients and prisoners during each meal.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to reduce the consumption of animal products in jails and hospitals.
City jails must decrease purchases of meat, dairy, and egg products by 50 percent in 2024. Public hospitals have until 2023 to reduce animal product purchases by 15 percent.
The new law is currently awaiting the signature of the city’s mayor.