How to Accommodate Religious Dietary Restrictions for Your Employees

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Workplaces should strive to accommodate religious diversity. This may involve the need to accommodate dietary restrictions as a result. In this lesson, we go over numerous aspects of how can this be achieved in the workplace.

Religious Dietary Restrictions

Workplace inclusivity involves not only including all genders, races, and nationalities but also all religious backgrounds as well. As we can imagine, a corporation composed of religiously diverse backgrounds brings with it the potential for greater inter-cultural exchange among other benefits.

At the same time, we need to consider the needs of religiously-diverse individuals. This may include the need for a worship space at work and a nod towards certain dietary restrictions. In this lesson, we go over the important facets of the latter.

The Food That's Served

Some religions forbid either eating a certain type of food outright, the mixing of some kinds of food, or eating an allowed food that's not prepared in a specific kind of way.

Preparing Food

Some forms of food must be prepared in pre-specified ways, such as Kosher food, those which meets the requirements of Jewish law. In this instance, cafeteria staff should be properly trained in how such food should be prepared.

Forbidden Foods

In other instances, some religions like Islam forbid eating any form of pork regardless of how it's prepared. This means employers need to consider providing alternative sources of nutrition to their employees in the cafeteria, kitchen, or during company events.

In this case, that could be providing something like a beef option or a vegetarian option that everyone, regardless of religion, can enjoy.

Mixing Foods

Further still, in some instances, it's not so much that a food is forbidden but rather the mixing of some forms of food that's not allowed. A good example of this is mixing meat and milk.

As such, precautions should be taken in the cafeteria to avoid mixing trays, utensils, and other cookware that house one or the other.

Beverages

Beyond food, beverages should be considered as well. Whether it be during religious holidays, or outright, some forms of beverages aren't allowed in some religions. A good example of this is alcohol.

In such cases, it would be important to provide employees with non-alcoholic beverage alternatives, such as water, soft drinks, or non-alcoholic beer. Additionally, organizations should strive to avoid organizing events where there is wine, liquor, or any forms of alcohol.

The Food That's Stored

Beyond the preparation and offering of different forms of food in accordance with religious traditions, employers should consider the ways by which food is stored.

It may be inappropriate for some religious employees to share a storage space, be it an entire refrigerator or a section thereof, in a way that is incompatible with their religious beliefs.

For example, those who do not eat pork or beef may not wish to store their meals next to a meal with pork or beef in a refrigerator.

In this case, employers have numerous possible solutions:

  • Having separate, small refrigerators for food-specific items.
  • Reserving shelves, drawers, or bins in a single refrigerator for different items.
  • Requiring all employees to store all food in air-tight containers. This will also help keep odors in check!

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