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Lee Pitts

If you’re going to rob a bank or shoot someone DO NOT do it in Illinois. Inmates in prison there have filed a lawsuit because they have been forced to eat so much soy that they contend it constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In 2004 the Illinois Corrections Department started substituting soy products for meat in a cost cutting measure. Now the inmates are suing prison officials for serving up such mouthwatering fare as soy-spiked sloppy Joes and soy-blend hot dogs. I swear, I think it’s the best incentive yet for leading a crime-free life.

The inmates say they have developed a host of medical maladies as a result of all the soy, including heart problems, arterial blockages and irritable bowel syndrome. They seem particularly upset about the fact that the soy-based diet has increased the level of flatulence. And when you live in such close quarters that’s a very big deal!

In a related matter, I recently read that vegetarians are more apt to consider suicide than are meat-eaters. I completely understand. If you had to give up filet mignon for twice baked asparagus you’d be depressed and feel like killing yourself too.

This is all good news for meat producers and I think it could be the start of a backlash against vegetarian terrorists like PETA. People are getting just a tad tired of having vegetarianism forced down their throat. Yuck!

I recently got a taste of the soy and broccoli backlash at a dinner party we attended. Everyone brought a dish, just like the good old-time potlucks, only before serving their food the donor (I won’t call them cooks) announced their dish, shared the ingredients, how they cooked it, blah, blah, blah. Then everyone got so excited they gave them a standing ovation as if they’d just performed some major miracle.

Since when did cooking become this magical and mysterious process? My recently departed mother, who was one of the best cooks of all time, performed greater miracles every time she lit up her gas oven and never even got as much as a thank you, much less a standing O. There was a big difference however between my mom’s food and that brought to the dinner party: my mom’s food was actually eaten!

Do you remember as a child when there was something you didn’t like on your plate, and all the tricks you used to try to make your mom think you deserved dessert? Like the napkin drop I perfected. After much practice I was able to drop a paper napkin from my mouth so that it covered every last lima bean on my plate. Interestingly, at the party I saw the same tricks being pulled. One guy hid his heaping portion of fresh pea mint hash under the skin of his organic baked potato with such skill that it might even have fooled my mom.

There were three vegetarians at the dinner party, a much higher percentage than exist in the general population. They pouted every time a dish was announced that might appeal to us flesh-eating barbarians. My wife and I introduced our dish as follows: “We brought beef. It came from a steer. His name was Harold. We barbecued it. You cook it on one side and then you turn it over. Then you eat it.” And did they ever!

The amazing thing was the vegetarians even ate the beef. “I thought you didn’t believe in eating anything that once had a face?” I asked one of the veg heads.

“I have recently transitioned to become a Flexitarian,” she replied.

“That sounds like a political party or a new religion,” I said of the new species. “Does this mean you are no longer a vegetarian?”

“Oh no, I am still a vegetarian,” she said, “but I allow myself to eat meat if it was raised in a sustainable manner.”

I know some inmates in Illinois who would sure like to become Flexitarians. Or, as I prefer to think of them… recovering vegetarian born-again carnivores.