Vegan food for prisoners: vegan food for thought »
Is veganism a religion? Maybe not, but this article by attorney Sherry Colb makes a good case for veganism being taken as seriously as religious faith—at least in the prison system.
In the article, Ms. Colb examines the case of Paul Cortez, a prison inmate convicted of killing his girlfriend in February 2007. Mr. Cortez went vegan about two years ago, citing the cruelty and aggression in the prison system as the wakeup call that prompted him to give up animal products. Mr. Cortez’s new lifestyle hasn’t been well received by the prison system, however, which has maintained that the only way for him to get access to vegan food is for him to show a bona fide religious basis for his food choices and claim protection under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, a piece of legislation preventing federally funded institutions (including prisons) from placing “substantial burdens on religious practice.”
Ms. Colb makes a compelling case for accommodating the dietary requirements of vegans in the prison system by making a strong case for the ethics of vegans, and she even ends up advocating a vegan diet for all inmates. It’s nice to see this issue getting some real scholarly consideration in a mainstream legal forum (even though I still think it’s balls that vegans have to prove that their ethics are somehow comparable to religious beliefs, still the gold standard for evaluating sincerely held beliefs), and hopefully this is just the beginning.
Check out the article, and maybe consider sending a copy to the warden of your local penitentiary. And while you’re at it, why not write a letter to a vegan in jail, and consider your good deed done for the day!