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Czech prison refuses to serve vegan meals for inmate

Lukas Borl, who refuses to eat animal products for ethical reasons, was unable to meet his dietary needs while incarcerated from 2016-17

When longtime vegan Lukáš Borl, described in local press reports as a “left-wing activist,” was incarcerated at Czech prison in Litoměřice from September 2016 to April 2017, his dietary needs were put in jeopardy.

The 37-year-old Borl, who chooses not to eat animal products for ethical reasons, continually requested vegan meals – a rarity among the standard Czech diet. But he was told the prison could only serve him vegetarian, not vegan, food.

When Borl asked to be transferred to another prison that could meet his dietary needs, this request was also denied.

Borl sought to rectify the issue by taking the Czech Ministry of Justice to court – – and was at least initially successful.

In 2018, a Prague District Court found in favor of Borl, and ordered the Ministry to compensate Borl 19,000 crowns in court costs and, perhaps more importantly, issue Borl a formal apology by letter.

But the Ministry appealed the decision, and last week a Prague Municipal Court found that the Litoměřice Prison did not violate Borl’s human rights while incarcerated, upholding the appeal.

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“The plaintiff’s long-term world view cannot be denied, but his rights cannot be exercised at the expense of other persons and contrary to the prison’s operational capabilities,” said Jitka Denemarková, chairwoman of the Board of Appeal of the Prague Municipal Court, according to Aktuálně.cz.

“During his time in custody, he had the opportunity to buy vegan food at his own expense, or to receive external packages.”

According to the State, two chefs at the Litoměřice prison made meals for 410 prisoners at a time, and it was not feasible to prepare individual meals.

The State also cited financial reasons for not being able to meet Borl’s requests. While the prison had a set daily budget of 57 crowns per prisoner, putting together a balanced vegan diet was claimed to exceed this amount.

Borl’s attorney, however, rejected this claim.

“Vegan food is the cheapest form of diet,” she told reporters.

Borl, meanwhile, was not in Prague to hear the appeal last week as he is currently in custody facing a new set of charges in Most.

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The allegations against Borl include those of establishing an “extremist network of revolutionary cells” along with an extortion charge from Prague’s Řízkárna restaurant and damages from another.

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