Marin County Jail Doesn’t Accommodate Vegan Meal Request

MILL VALLEY (CBS 5) — Dave McDonald has been one of Mill Valley’s most famous characters for decades. Call the 70-year-old quirky, call him eccentric, just don’t call him to dinner unless its vegan.

The problem came when he was thrown in jail recently for possession of controlled substances. After the substances were tested and found not be controlled, McDonald was released after 99 days.

“I lost just about a quarter of my body weight,” McDonald said.

But during his stay, jail guards refused to accommodate his request for a vegan meal plan. The Marin County Jail allows for vegan or vegetarian meals for religious reasons, but McDonald is not religious.

“I did try to be very succinct with them. I said my belief in not hurting animals is more powerful and profound than any religious belief,” McDonald said.

McDonald said jail officials cobbled together a haphazard diet of vegetables and bread that had no nutrition. He lost 50 pounds, that’s a half a pound a day. He has since gained some of that weight back.

“At 155 (pounds), I had sticks for arms, I had sunken eyes. I had a prisoner of war look that was serious,” McDonald said.

Jail officials say it’s true. The county that has a farmer’s market almost every day of the week would not accommodate his request.

Captain David Augustus of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department told CBS 5 that jail personnel were following the law, which is common practice across most of California. San Francisco appears to be an exception, as it allows its prisoners to have vegan meals without specifying a religion.

Augustus said the Marin County jail is now reviewing its meal policy.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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