Tim Barry - 222
How to Be Vegan in Prison
I am a vegan. Nineteen years deep into a lifelong commitment to avoid eating anything from an animal. In following this moral code I have found myself at protests turned riots, donning cow costumes at meat processing conventions, and creeping into slaughterhouses in complete darkness to film the inhumane treatment of animals. When I was arrested in 1998 and faced “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA) charges that could have put me in prison for 82 years, I chose an underground life over a potential life sentence. I became a fugitive on the run from the FBI until 2005, when I was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for releasing thousands of minks from fur farms.
While living on the lam I put as much effort into vegan dining as the FBI did into catching me. I ate seitan marinated in sesame ginger sauce and roasted red pepper hummus on sprouted grain pizza crust. I double-fisted dried strawberries and malted carob balls, drank rice shakes every morning and sipped kombucha every night. Agave nectar was my table sugar, and organic carrot-juice my wine.
Once I was thrown into a prison cell, this comfortable reality instantly evaporated. Three times a day, the slot on my cell door opened, delivering trays piled with every variety of animal flesh and byproduct. The trace amounts of iceberg lettuce barely pushed my caloric intake into the double digits. I launched a nightly letter-writing campaign, targeting anyone with influence. Everyone from the prison captain, to the kitchen manager, to Congressperson Barbara Boxer received my letters. My demands were simple: No meat, dairy, or eggs. In this one-sided negotiation process, leverage was in short supply.
After two years and seven prisons, I learned a thing or three about how to get meat-free food in prison.