Get sent to jail in Arizona’s Maricopa County and you’ll be experiencing some serious life changes. And for those who eat meat, that includes going vegetarian.
County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no stranger to controversy. Over the years, he has made seemingly countless numbers of national headlines. As recently as August, the five-time elected sheriff was in the news after announcing that his deputies would be required to carry firearms at all times, even while off duty.
Arpaio’s latest move is a plan to transition all of his inmates in the county’s eight jails to a vegetarian diet. On the surface, it might sound like a health-conscious move from the 81-year-old lawman. But Arpaio said the change is all about saving the county money.
As part of an effort to publicize the move, Arpaio donned a chef's uniform during a local TV appearance.
“Little by little, this is the first step to go vegetarian,” he told Phoenix affiliate Fox 10. “There will be no more meat on the menu, we’ll save $100,000.”
Instead, the jails will serve soy. In the interview with Fox, Arpaio showed how one stew-like dish will be prepared using the soy along with a combination of carrots, peas and other vegetables.
“It looks great. It looks like stew,” Arpaio said while laughing. “I’m getting hungry.”
Of course, reporter Troy Hayden was less convinced, telling Arpaio that the soy looked like "wood chips" and pointing out that some of the carrots used were brown.
"Oh, that's probably just dirt, don't worry about that," Arpaio responded.
And even though meat is being taken off the menu, Arpaio says one Maricopa County policy he famously instituted will remain constant: The inmates will still be charged for their meals.