The Origins of the Buddha Bowl

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Those Buddha bowls, we just love them, we take them to school or to work, we can’t stop posting them. They always look so good and include everything we want from a meal. We feel healthy just looking at them!
But where does the tradition begin and what has Buddha to do with the Buddha bowl?

Buddah Bowl

Martha Stewart inspired by the monks:

Monks carrying bowls
Monks Carrying Bowls

In 2013, in her book Meatless, Martha coined the term “Buddha Bowl” for what had been called until then Hippie Bowls, Macro Bowls or just plain Grain Bowls. No doubt Martha was inspired by Buddhist monks walking around with their bowls to be fill up with whatever people can give, therefore getting a varied selection of titbits in the process.

In fact, the monks follow the example of Buddha who walked around with his bowl which got filled with whatever villagers could spare.

Buddhist monks are usually vegan or vegetarian depending on where they live (see Religious Traditions that make Vegan Travel Easier). Did you know that they eat mostly between sunrise and high noon, fasting for the rest of the day?

Monks Sitting down to Eat

Interesting fact is that giving food to monks is actually not considered charity but a way for lay people to connect to their spirituality. In Thailand, for example, the monks actually hide their faces under their hats in order to cover their identity, not out of shame for begging, but rather to insure anonymity in both parties. Those who have can give and those who don’t have can take. It is a law of nature, not an affair of good conscience. No ego here.

Buddah Bowl 2

Origin of the Buddha Bowl:

The tradition of mixing greens with a grain and a source of protein, along with condiments can be traced to many cultures, mainly in Asia and in Hawaii.

In Korea there are Bibimpaps which consist of rice in a stone bowl, with a topping of greens and other veggies with an egg and/or slices of meat.  In Hawaii, the traditional Poke Bowl sees rice topped with fish and veggies and is a mainstream fare for quick lunches. 

Buddah Bowl 3

Buddha Bowl Today:

The contemporary Buddha Bowls of the West usually include rice, quinoa or noodles covered with a choice of roasted/steamed and raw vegetables, beans/tofu or tempeh. A variety of sauces can be sprinkled on top, from a peanut based warm sauce for an Indonesian effect to a Teriyaki cold dressing for an oriental bend.

The Buddha Bowl is a complete balanced meal which never bores. It can be conjugated to the tune of the different ingredients you decide to use. As we see, the complete meal in a bowl is not a new concept and it seems like it is here to stay!


The Veganary offers dedicated organized travel information in more than 65 countries. So you can forget about the stress of traveling as a vegan and enjoy your trip the Veganary way. 

Traveling Around the World, the Vegan Way

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