Urging the Delhi High Court to make Tihar Jail a meat-free zone, PETA India on Tuesday said many jails in the US have introduced vegetarian food and found "noticeable difference" in the personalities of the inmates as it decreases aggressive behaviour.
In a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the animal rights group said that by feeding prisoners exclusively vegetarian food, the recidivism rate or relapse into criminal behaviour will be reduced, thus helping prisons and prisoners.
In a letter addressed to the two judges, they also contended that this would help in saving the taxpayers' money.
The high court has been petitioned by Tihar jail inmates that they should also be given non-vegetarian food.
However, PETA India disagreed with the prisoners' demand.
"We urge you to allow the state to serve exclusively vegetarian food in Tihar Jail. We understand Tihar Jail and other prisons in the state are already sending a positive message against violence by serving vegetarian food on most days of the year," the letter said.
The letter written by Bhuvaneshwari Gupta, who is the nutritionist and campaign coordinator of PETA India, also said: "It would be a big step backward to start feeding prisoners cruel, meat-based meals just because a few meat addicts at Tihar Jail are complaining."
They said vegetarian food also decreases aggressive behaviour.
"Vegetarian food promotes compassion. Prisons are the last place we should be encouraging violence and meat involves extreme cruelty and killing," it said.
Quoting some instances in the US, the group said numerous prisons have successfully reduced violence with a regimen that includes vegetarian or vegan meals, which are dairy-free and contain no animal-derived products.
Two of them are the US Victor Valley Medium Community Correctional Facility in California and Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore.
The letter said the two prisons reported success in using vegetarian meals in behaviour modification programmes. "There is a noticeable difference in the personalities of the vegetarian inmates. They smile more, are fully racially integrated, attend religious classes and anger management classes eagerly. Within 10 days, the vegan inmates express improvement in how they feel," the statement said quoting one official of the Californian facility.
They also said vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, strokes, and diabetes than those who consume animal products.
The letter said vegetarian food is far less expensive than meat, and vegetarian food is easier to prepare.
"Making prisons meat-free zones is a win-win situation. For these reasons, we hope that you will allow Tihar Jail to enforce a vegetarian-only policy," the statement said, adding that they would be happy to help the prison design meatless meal plans.