Wednesday, March 04, 2020

10th Circuit: Inedible Vegan Diet Burdened Buddhist Inmate's Religious Exercise

In Blair v. Raemisch, (10th Cir., March 2, 2020), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Buddhist inmate's complaint about the vegan diet he was served adequately stated a claim under the 1st Amendment's free exercise clause and under RLUIPA. According to plaintiff's complaint, on 19 out of each 28 days, he was served a vegan patty made at the prison from left-over beans, yams, oatmeal, tomato paste, and seasoning combined in a blender and then baked. He alleged that these were inedible, and caused him to vomit. This forced him to go hungry or purchase vegan food from the commissary. The court concluded that, if true, this substantially burdened plaintiff's sincerely held religious beliefs and put pressure on him to abandon them. Colorado Politics reports on the decision.