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Vegan In Prison?

In prison, you have no say over anything in your life. That's the whole point, to take away your freedom. But could this mean being forced to make a choice between going against everything that you believe in and starving.

Vegans go to prison too, whether it's for freeing animals, blocking milk trucks or anything else, and, as public institutions, prisons have to make sure that the vegans within their walls are catered for. That vegans are given food that is healthy and meets all of their nutritional needs and are not made to eat, drink or use any animal products.

Prisons have to cater for vegans

What Does The Prison Have To Do?

Veganism comes within the scope of international human rights provisions and vegans in the UK are protected under human rights and equality law. This means that prisons have an obligation to not interfere with a vegan’s right to freedom of conscience. They also have a responsibility to prevent any discrimination, on the grounds of veganism, under the Equality Act 2010.

Vegan prisoners should not be given any food containing animal products, and must be able to obtain all the nutrients needed to maintain good health during their time in prison, this will include giving supplements, like vitamin B12, iodine and selenium. In prisons it can also be necessary to give everyone, not just vegans, a vitamin D supplement due to the lack of adequate sunlight exposure.

As well as having vegan friendly food, prisons also have to provide vegan friendly clothes and toiletries. Leather, suede and wool should not be given to vegans, this includes any work boots that are provided. Vegans must not be made to work on any prison farms or prepare non-vegan foods, an alternative job should always be offered. Toiletries must be free from honey, animal waxes and fats and any other animal derivatives, such as carmine.

A Vegan Prisoner's Rights

Veganism is protected by, not only the Equality Act 2010, also by international human rights laws. Prisons and police stations must not stop you from practicing veganism, but must grant you access to vegan friendly food and other items at all times. In prisons, canteen sheets are usually issued on a weekly basis for prisoners to order food, toiletries and other things that they may need. These mean that prisoners can choose for themselves what they have. Any retail places, like tuck shops, must attempt to stock vegan items, like soaps and shampoos.

If you find yourself in prison in the UK you can also request to see The National Product List. This is a list of products that local Prison Retail Teams use to choose which products they would like to stock. If you have access to the list you can request other items, things that are available to the prison, but are not normally kept in stock. You can also talk to the team of prisoners that decide what is stock is ordered for the canteen from the local canteen sheets, ask them if you can see the full canteen listing and talk to them about getting items that you want added ordered. For items that aren't on either list you should speak to your Diversity Manager or Residential Governor. They may be able to add companies such as Holland and Barrett to their Facilities List. Once this has been arranged you'll be able to buy what you need in accordance with prison protocols.

How Bad Is It, Really?

Being vegan in prison isn't as bad as you'd think, the problem is the being in prison part, not the vegan bit. Vegan food is quite popular in UK prisons, the food is said, by many, to be better than the animal based alternatives. It is quite common for people to go into prison and only eat vegan food, in spite of not being vegan, simply because the food is that much better.

If you do get arrested and do not know where to turn to you can contact The Vegan Society, they advocate for prisoners, then in the UK there is also The Vegan Prisoners' Support Group. The VPSG provides support and information for vegans that have been detained either in police custody or within the prison system. They have guidance that covers everything from being arrested, going to court and being held in prison.


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