05 Apr Pamela Anderson
From iconic sex symbol to serious animal and human rights activist, Pamela Anderson’s beauty radiates from her soul.
Yes, she’s as close to a Perfect 10 physically as pretty much any woman can get, but it’s her intelligence, her compassion, her kindness and her willingness to speak her truth and that of others who can’t, that enhances her beauty and makes her light shine as brightly as it does.
Pamela Anderson is so much more than an actress, a model, a pin up girl … She’s a devoted vegan, the director of the Pamela Anderson Organisation – an association that supports organisations and individuals that stand on the front lines in the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights by funding the efforts of those who defend the planet and all who live within it – and an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Pamela’s latest project is one you might initially call ‘outside the square’, but upon speaking with her, you realise it makes absolutely perfect sense.
You see, she is encouraging prisons in NSW, Australia, to change the meals served to inmates from meat-based to vegetarian and vegan options. It’s a project that began in the USA state of Arizona in 2015, where Maricopa County Jail switched to all-vegetarian food for its 8,000 inmates and reported a saving of US$273,000. Pamela went there with representatives of PETA US to serve lunch to the prisoners, who were, she reported, “impressed by the freshness and quality of the food”.
When the iconic star and animal advocate heard that Corrective Services NSW had planned to introduce yoga and mindfulness exercises to help rehabilitate female inmates, she wrote directly to Peter Severin, Commissioner of Corrective Services in NSW suggesting that a change to a plant based diet could further help in this endeavour.
Gently Vegan’s Shonagh Walker spoke to her about the project and her involvement in it.
1. Can you please tell me about your association with PETA and the initiative to serve vegan meals in women’s prisons? What is it all about?
I’m very passionate about animal rights and have been working with PETA to help improve the lives of animals for two decades now. In the US, I’ve been active in getting prisons to serve vegan meals because I believe that peace begins on our plates, so when I read that NSW prisons plan to rehabilitate female inmates through mindfulness exercises and yoga, suggesting they switch to vegan meals seems like a logical extension of that. Not only would providing vegan food honour one of the driving principles of yoga—ahimsa, doing no harm—by sparing animals’ lives, it could also help improve the health of the women in your facilities while decreasing long-term health-care costs. Numerous top studies have shown that a plant-based diet significantly reduces the risk of obesity and cancer and can even reverse heart disease and diabetes.
2. What drew you to this particular project?
I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out. Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy.
3. What do you think the women can gain from this?
Not only would providing vegan food honour one of the driving principles of yoga—ahimsa, doing no harm—by sparing animals’ lives, it could also help improve the health of the women in the facilities while decreasing long-term health-care costs. Numerous top studies have shown that a plant-based diet significantly reduces the risk of obesity and cancer and can even reverse heart disease and diabetes. And of course, it will help to reduce the suffering that animals raised for their flesh, milk and eggs endure on miserable factory farms and in slaughterhouses.
4. What do you think all of society can gain from this initiative?
There are so many good reasons to go vegan, and not a single good one not to. Vegans are on average healthier and live longer than meat eaters and have a much smaller environmental footprint too. It’s never been more important or urgent for us to take action against global warming and given that the UN has said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is necessary to alleviate the worst effects of climate change, we really have to take personal responsibility for our part. And then when you think about how cows, pigs, chickens and other animals, equally as intelligent and sensitive as cats and dogs, are brutalised, mutilated, confined, torn away from their families and violently killed, choosing to eat vegan really should be a no brainer.
PETA offers a fantastic vegan starter kit for free on its website www.peta.org it’s a great place to start for people who want to make the switch to a kinder and healthier way of living. For those wishing to add their voice to this worthy cause, please email: Peter Severin Commissioner Corrective Services NSW ExecutiveServices@justice.nsw.gov.au
Interview with Lifestyle and Beauty editor Shonagh Walker