Pamela Anderson offers to cook for Louisiana inmates

Broadcaster ORF moderator Alfons Haider, left, kisses the hand of U.S actress Pamela Anderson, during the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 4. The Opera Ball is one of the most privileged events in the Austrian social calendar, attracting invited local guests along with luminaries and international dignitaries. (AP Photo by Hans Punz)

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“Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson offered to cook a vegan meal in the state’s prisons if Gov. John Bel Edwards considers cutting meat from the diets of the state’s 37,500 inmates.

“If you left meat off menus in the 12 state-run prisons, Louisiana taxpayers would save as much as $620,000 a year,” Anderson wrote Edwards.

Beans, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes, other vegetables and fruits provide the needed nutrients at a fraction of the price, she argued in her letter. Plus, vegan foodstuffs can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.

Since Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, the third highest obesity levels and a massive budget deficit, Dan Mathews, a senior president with PETA, said Anderson felt the state offers “a great merging of issues.”

Working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Anderson went to Phoenix last year and cooked lunch for the 8,000 inmates in Maricopa County Jail. The prison switched to all-vegetarian diet for its inmates.

Mathews said Anderson would come to Louisiana if the state “just tries the the program out.”

The state Department of Corrections thanked Anderson for her concerns and hoped she would visit. But any shift in menus is not in the state’s immediate plans.

“While there may be some offenders who wouldn’t mind the change, let’s just say that any savings realized from the switch to vegan would easily be surpassed by the extensive damage caused to our facilities by those not so appreciative of the idea,” Corrections spokeswoman Pam LaBorde said in an emailed statement. “All of our state correctional facilities went smoke-free in 2015. I shudder to think what would happen if we suggested taking away chicken, pork, beef and fish in 2016.”