I am volunteering in a maximum security prison with a number of men who want to or do follow a vegan diet. The "alternative diet" provided by New York State is the only option offered to prisoners who don't eat the regular meals. This diet is supposedly kosher, halal, etc. When the inmate accepts that diet and just doesn't eat the animal product foods, it is not nutritious. They have sent letters to Albany about this issue and get back the response that the state does not offer a vegan diet. One man at least survives on packages from home, which he shares when he can with other vegans in the sangha.
The group has decided to try to work together to try to change this policy. Have any of you had experience with this? One man has written a compelling letter citing Buddhist precepts and excerpts from sutras indicating that animal products should not be eaten, also quoting from Philip Kapleau's book on the issue. I or the center where I practice could write in support of their position, but it is tricky because so many Buddhists do consume animal products. I cannot state that this is a requirement of the religion and is followed by all Buddhists. However, I think writing to state that many very sincere Buddhists interpret the teachings in that way is honest. In these men's case, I am quite sure that their religious beliefs are the reason for their veganism.
I hope to hear your advice on this.
Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz