Eric Harris, a convicted pedophile is suing the Florida prison system for using soy in its food in place of real meat.
Eric Harris, 34, says the prison where he is incarcerated is forcing him to a eat vegan diet, devoid of any meat or animal products.
The prisoner claims “Southern BBQ”, “meat loaf” and “meaty macaroni” contain large portions of soy and the food is making him sick.
Eric Harris is serving a life sentence at Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont, Florida, after he was convicted of sexually battering a young child.
The man says the meals give him painful gastrointestinal cramping and threaten his immune system and thyroid. As a result, prison food constitutes a “cruel and unusual punishment”, he says.
The lawsuit asks a judge to force Florida prisons to stop serving soy. Eric Harris is also seeking an unspecified amount of money.
The legal action is being paid for by the Weston A. Price Foundation, a Washington interest group that opposes the use of soy in foods.
The group says 500 inmates have complained about the food since Florida prisons began dishing up soy in their meals in 2009 in an effort to cut costs.
Spokeswoman Kimberly Hartke says: “These men are guinea pigs who are being fed high levels of soy.”
Weston A. Price Foundation advocates a diet of whole milk, grass-fed meat and unprocessed foods. It believes prisons should be raising their own meat and fresh vegetables to feed to inmates.
Florida prison meals are made with half soy and half poultry.
Inmates might not like the taste, but replacing all the soy with meat could double the prison system’s $47 million annual food budget, says Gretl Plessinger, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
“They would much rather have beef or pork, of course. We are required to provide a nutritional meal, which we do, but we also have to be mindful of taxpayers who are footing the bill,” Gretl Plessinger said.
Despite the complaints, nearly 90% of prisoners choose to eat the dishes mixed with soy instead of the beans or peanut butter alternatives they have for each meal, Gretl Plessinger said.
Eric Harris claims he has a history lymphoma and says the soy meals are dangerous to inmates, especially those with soy allergies and pre-existing gastrointestinal and thyroid conditions.
In his lawsuit, he says inmates eat 100 grams of soy protein a day, four times the amount recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This isn’t the first soy-based lawsuit Eric Harris has filed. He has brought the complaint twice before and his lawsuits have been kicked out of court on the grounds that he has abused the judicial system.
A judge pointed out recently, that Eric Harris, a sex offender, has sued Florida alleging that the state’s lack of a male version of battered women’s syndrome was unconstitutionally discriminatory. He has also claimed mental anguish from a video game that recreated the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, saying he was a “close friend” of one of the shooters.