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Female inmates protest vegetarian meals with hunger strike

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Five months after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took meat off the menus at his jails inmates at the Estrella women's jail decided to go on a hunger strike.

They don't like the vegetarian meals they're being served and tonight the sheriff is sounding off.

The hunger strike started Monday with just a couple of maximum security inmates. Now, on the third day of the strike 10 inmates are protesting and the sheriff expects even more to join by the end of the day.  Their actions may be all for nothing the sheriff says he has no plans of changing up the menu.

"They ought to shut up and eat what they have, they happen to be in jail and I'm the sheriff and I'm the chief chef I decide what they eat," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio decided all the inmates in the Maricopa County Jail System will be eating a vegetarian meal made of soy, vegetables, and oil. The sheriff also cut real milk out of the menu and is giving inmates powdered milk.

"And I think its a better product, trying to take care of the health of our inmates. Some don't like it you know what my answer to them is don't come to jail," said Sheriff Arpaio.

Some inmates don't just hate the vegetarian meal they're upset with the overall quality of the food so they've refused to eat it.

"Here they are complaining about 2600 calories a day when we have veterans homeless people on the streets begging and starving. They haven't even committed a crime now we got people who committed crimes in jail complaining about the menu," said Arpaio.

The hunger strike began Monday and now more inmates are expected to participate
but the sheriff says at this point their empty stomachs won't convince him to spruce up the menu.  "I guess they don't eat," said Arpaio.

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