Pamela Anderson, curvaceous star of “Baywatch” back in the day, has re-emerged to urge that Louisiana penitentiaries go vegan, and offers to do some cooking herself.
Perhaps she could rustle up some soy milk, margarine, white vinegar and unsweetened cocoa powder, and deliver a vegan cake to Angola. Don’t bake a file into it, Pamela! The screws are wise to that trick.
No, Anderson’s plan is not to show up at the gates with treats, but to cook a meal in a prison kitchen and serve it to the assembled felons. If it comes to pass, perhaps she will be photographed sashaying into the joint; she’s only 48, and presumably still has a few moves.
Anderson points out that not only would her plan promote inmate health, but veganism is a cheaper option. Louisiana could save $620,000 a year in food costs, she claimed in a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards.
She has some experience in these matters, having dished up lunch, in cahoots with PETA, at what may be America’s most famous county jail in Maricopa County, Arizona. It is famous because it is run by Joe Arpaio, who likes to bill himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Whether or not he deserves that title, he must surely be America’s most Neanderthal sheriff, racist, blind to the constitution and nuttily convinced that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
Anderson descended on the county jail to show her approval of the vegetarian diet that Arpaio has been foisting on his prisoners for the last couple of years, supposedly saving taxpayers more than $200,000 a year. It would have saved more if Arpaio fed his prisoners three times a day, but he believes breakfast and dinner are enough.
Anderson, however, evidently does not feel that Arpaio has gone far enough with his jailhouse menus; hence she prescribes the whole enchilada for us. Vegetarian is only a step on the way to vegan bliss.
The financial benefits of her regimen would surely be much greater than Anderson suggests. If she had her way, Louisiana would no longer lead the world in incarceration rates. Mothers would scare delinquent kids straight by reminding them there is no meat or cheese in the slammer, while memories of quinoa and zucchini for dinner would cause recidivism rates to plummet. Anderson has the solution for Louisiana’s budget woes.
Except that it won’t work. A vegan diet would inevitably lead to prison riots, and those characters who live at Angola can get pretty rough. Any savings on groceries would be offset by repair costs after prisoners wreck the joint. Noting that prisoners lost their smoking rights a couple of years ago, Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde said, “I shudder to think what would happen if we suggested taking away chicken, pork, beef and fish in 2016.”
It would be more stressful even than that, because vegans don’t stop at renouncing flesh. Milk and eggs are out too, for instance. The idea of vegan prisons is just what you would expect when a former pinup hooks up with PETA — pie in the sky.
Arpaio apparently is getting away with his vegetarian meals, but the short-term inmates of county jails are much less of a handful than, say, the Angola population, most of whom will never get out. Still, Arpaio has violated inmates’ rights often enough to saddle Arizona taxpayers with many millions in court settlements.
He also lost in court when the ACLU sued over his use of racial profiling in an obsessive search for illegal immigrants. His other abuses of office include trumping up charges against political opponents. If vegetarianism is a virtue, it might be Arpaio’s only one. But PETA doesn’t mind being linked to such a brute, so long as animal welfare is advanced.
Anderson’s letter to Edwards seems to have been taken straight from a PETA news release. It claims that rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables “have all the nutrients a person needs,” and bring “enormous savings on freezer costs and spoilage.”
Many inmates have no doubt dreamed of meeting Anderson one day — just not over beans and lentils in the pen.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.