The monotonous soy-based diet being fed to Illinois prisoners reminds me of a question I hear often enough about low-carb eating: "So you cut out all that other stuff? I mean, doesn't that get pretty boring after awhile?" Nah, it's the de facto vegetarian diet that most people eat that offers little variety -- cut out most animal products, and you get bread, potatoes, sugar, cereal, and maybe some rice. If they're a bit more health-conscious, throw in some vegetables and fruit.
Consider just bread or rice. It's not as though people buy bread made of a wide range of grains -- wheat, rye, oat, etc. It's all wheat, and only occasionally other types. Same with rice strains. Nor do people consume five to ten types of potatoes. The vegetables and fruits served on the side are about the only potential source for variety, and even here it's only the health-food-store people who make use of that.
Using the easiest example I can think of right now -- what I just ate for dinner -- let's see how broad or narrow the range of foodstuffs is on a low-carb plan. I'm ignoring the tiny amounts of things that are used in spices, broths, or drinks:
- French onion soup, using Gruyere and sheep's milk cheeses
- Sardine with a pickle
- Two mini sweet bell pepper halves with 1 oz. of duck and pork liver mousse and goat's milk cheese
- Two slices of sopressata and a poached egg covered with Bearnaise sauce
- Serving of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries covered in heavy whipping cream
- Lime tonic water
- Single shot of espresso
I count three vegetable types, four types of fruit, dairy from three animals, eggs from one animal, and the muscle, fat, and organs of three animal species. Plant species consumed: 7. Animal species consumed: 7. Total species consumed: 14.
Note that this is not a very large meal either -- aside from the soup and berries & cream, it took up only 3/4 of a dinner plate. Since I'm gluten-intolerant, I thought about frying a little ground lamb to take the place of croutons in the soup, but left them out altogether; and I could've easily added a small amount of almonds. These simple changes would've brought the diversity score up to 16 species, 8 plant and 8 animal, again without adding much to the amount of food.
Compare this to eating four slices of pizza, a big bowl of pasta, or a sandwich and chips. Boring? Hardly.