During a day of corporate training in Conflict Management, in a multi-cultural environment, we were discussing how cultural differences in diet can cause misunderstandings in the workplace, for example, many Hindus don’t eat meat and are vegetarian, or do not eat meat on certain days for religious reasons. See this Wikipedia link about Vegetarianism and Religion. We spoke a bit about diet and I mentioned that in my own workplace in the past, I had been something of an oddity. I am a Lacto-Vegetarian, meaning, the only animal products I eat are dairy. The group gasped, many saying: “what is left to eat?” Yes, this is a strong reaction common in a predominantly meat-eating culture. When asked why I restricted my diet in this way, I said that I wanted to minimize the suffering of animals through compassion and not eating them. Some said yes, they understood because they loved their pets.
I was very surprised, when one delegate stood up, an African male, who originally came from a small rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, said:
“I can understand this. I have chickens on my farm at home. When I want to eat chicken, I go to the store to buy one, I do not want to kill my own chickens.”
In this way, coming from a very patriarchal background, he was able to express his own love for his chickens, whom he had noticed had personalities and loved to scratch around in the sun. I loved that this made him think and that he was able to express himself like this in front of his colleagues.
Here is a wonderful link to a story about the “hensioners”, pensioners, who are helped with loneliness through their relationships with chickens. I love it!