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Sheriff Joe Arpaio welcomes actress Pamela Anderson to serve vegetarian meals to inmates

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Jail has officially become the nation’s first vegetarian jail.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has decided to serve only vegetarian meals to inmates and welcomed former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson to help serve lunch Wednesday.

Anderson toured the kitchen before the lunch, and said she’s pretty impressed with what the Sheriff is doing.

“There are a lot of people in prisons who are trying to improve themselves, and I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” Anderson said. “We’re talking about putting gardens in prisons as well for people to grow some of their own food.”

Anderson has been a vegetarian for 20 years and is an Honorary Director for PETA, which stands for People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The television star refused to answer reporters’ questions about the jail’s history of the mistreatment of prisoners, and whether animals deserved to be treated better than the inmates. She said that being served a vegetarian diet is one way that prisoners get better treatment.

“It’s giving them a more nutritious diet and actually is a more humane way to treat people that are in prison. It teaches them more healthy habits,” said Anderson.

For several years, Arpaio has boasted how inmates being served donated green bologna has saved taxpayers money. He rarely, if ever, mentioned that he was concerned about the dietary health of the inmates.

But the sheriff said things are different now.

“Things have changed. We don’t get donated food anymore,” Arpaio said. “We pay for the meat. It’s very expensive to pay for the meat.”

Arpaio said abused animals housed at the jail will continue to eat meat and the pet food they eat has been donated to the jail.

Meanwhile, Arpaio said he’s also taking advantage of the situation by going on a vegetarian diet himself. He started the diet on Wednesday.

The Sheriff said he weighs 207 pounds right now, and hopes to lose between 7 and 17 pounds. He said that he looks 10 pounds heavier when he is on television, and hopes that losing the weight will make him look better.