In its zeal to convert the masses to permanent vegetarianism, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made recent demands that prisons in at least three states (Alabama, Delaware and Missouri) remove all meat and dairy products from inmates’ cafeteria menus.

Casual observers should be forgiven for thinking that the animal rights group is only trying (as it has in the past) to guarantee vegan fare for its own cadre of jailed activists. But in this case, PETA’s motive appears to be profit-related.

The “vegan campaign coordinator” who signed PETA’s letters to the Alabama and Missouri governors is Joe Haptas, who has run other PETA campaigns against beef and dairy foods in the past. Haptas is also an avid anti-globalist protester.

Haptas is apparently a very busy guy; he is also an officer with the Northwest Animal Rights Network – a group whose more prominent members include SHAC leader Jake Conroy. Conroy has been arrested numerous times, including a 1999 bust with Animal Liberation Front criminal Matthew Whyte (who is currently serving a 14 month sentence for possession of a bomb).

Back to Mr. Haptas. PETA’s campaign director also manages a for-profit enterprise in Oakland, California called “Soy Happy.” This organization, run by animal-rights activists, sells soy food products and other “meat substitutes” to ballparks, zoos, and other venues that serve food “concessions.”

So why not prisons? PETA’s latest reach into correctional institutions might just have more to do with profit than anything else.

We note with great amusement that Joe Haptas’ letter to Missouri’s corrections director promises that a meatless diet will “provide a deterrent to convicts who are so addicted to meat, they’ll go straight just to avoid having to eat healthy ‘jailhouse’ food.”

What a strange line of reasoning: vegan food is so unpalatable that inmates will literally be “scared straight” by it!