The Pamela Anderson Foundation
March 7, 2016
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York
Dear Governor Cuomo,
I'm frequently in New York, and I've been following your admirable efforts to rehabilitate the state's inmates through education. I have a suggestion that dovetails nicely with your prison reform plans while also helping to resolve the state's budget crisis. Since New York has over 52,000 inmates, you could save almost $2 million a year and improve the health of the prisoners by switching to nutritious vegan meals in correctional facilities.
If you left meat off menus in the 54 state-run prisons, New York taxpayers would save more than $1.7 million a year. Beans, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes and other vegetables, and oranges and other fruits have all the nutrients a person needs but at a fraction of the cost of meats and cheeses. There would also be enormous savings on freezer costs and spoilage, since most vegan foods and ingredients can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.
These huge tax savings are based on the $273,000 in reduced costs reported by the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona, when it switched to all-vegetarian food for its 8,000 inmates. Last year, I went there with representatives of PETA to serve lunch to the prisoners and can report that they were impressed by the freshness and quality of the food. If New York follows Arizona's lead in switching to meat-free meals in jail, I'd be happy to inaugurate the program by helping cook lunch and serve it to the inmates.
Numerous top studies have shown that a plant-based diet significantly reduces the risk of obesity and cancer and can even reverse heart disease and diabetes. Vegan meals would decrease prisoner health-care costs long-term, which would have a significant beneficial impact on New York families, given the increased likelihood of obesity and other chronic diseases contracted while in prison.
It's heartening to know that you plan to reform New York's correctional system. I hope you use this suggestion as one way of achieving that end, while also addressing the state's budget crisis. PETA and I would be happy to work with your team, as we did in Arizona, to create a low-cost meal plan for your correctional facilities. I hope to have the opportunity to help you launch it.
Honorary PETA Director