Pamela Anderson visited America’s self-described “Toughest Sheriff” on Wednesday to tout the vegetarian fare being served at his Arizona jail.
Anderson and controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio posed for photos at the Maricopa County jail, which the sheriff claims is the first in the country to serve all-vegetarian meals.
Thus explains Anderson’s visit: The well-known vegan is also a PETA honorary director.
The jail has been serving vegetarian meals for 16 months now, replacing the cheap sandwiches made of donated bologna that Arpaio previously boasted about.
The Daily Mail reports that inmates are fed two meals a day – a peanut butter sandwich with oranges and crackers for brunch and a hot meal comprised of different vegetable and soy dishes for dinner.
Anderson expressed hope that the jail become a model for others by serving healthy, cost-effective, meat-free fare.
“It's about giving them a good diet and more nutrition and changing lives," Anderson said.
“We're saving a lot of lives and I think it's very helpful and encouraging to get people to eat compassionately and make non-violent choices.”
But she and PETA have been criticized for aligning themselves with the controversial sheriff. His latest problems involve accusations of racial profiling of Latinos in his county.
He abruptly ended a press conference Wednesday when reporters asked him to compare the $200,000 he said the jail would save annually by serving soy instead of meat to the $14 million it will cost to comply with a recent court order that found deputies discriminated against Latino residents.
Anderson and PETA’s visit to the jail raised hackles in some quarters.
Writing for Jezebel, Mark Shrayber noted the conditions found at Arpaio’s “Tent City,” an outdoor jail where more than 2,000 immigrant detainees can be held at one time under the hot Arizona sun.
“The tofu may be lowering your risk of heart disease, but the chance of getting heat stroke cancels those health benefits right out,” wrote Shrayber, a vegetarian himself.
“PETA’s love affair with Arpaio is very contradictory to their desire to make the world a better place for everyone. Even Pamela Anderson’s statement on the jail, which was all about compassion, seemed completely out of place in the deluge of information about how unkind Arpaio’s ways are.
“How do you expect people to learn compassion for animals when they aren’t shown any themselves?”
Reviews of the meatless meals themselves are apparently mixed, too.
The Arizona Republic solicited inmate opinions.
“The new vegetarian meals aren't too bad after a while,” inmate Anna Yoesting told the newspaper. “Some days are worse than others. But I still want meat.”