How Buddha Bowls Actually Got Their Name

Anyone who's trying to eat healthy knows the importance of a balanced diet. You want to make sure you're eating enough fruits, vegetables, protein, and so on. Alimentarium adds more specificity with the claim that 25% of the food you eat should be protein, 25% should be carbohydrates, and 50% should be vegetables.

Enter Buddha bowls. If you've never heard of them, it might be because they've only been around (by name) since 2013. A Buddha bowl is a dish that includes a variety of vegan ingredients — usually grains, vegetables, a protein, and a condiment — in small portions, separated from each other, as The Veganary explains. With balance as a key aspect, Buddha bowls feature an equal amount of each ingredient, and together, the ingredients represent a balanced meal.

The Veganary claims the phrase "Buddha bowls" first appeared in print in a Martha Stewart cookbook called "Meatless" in 2013. Asian Inspirations and Joyful Balance echo this claim. The big question is, why are they referred to as Buddha bowls?

Not all sources agree on the origin of the name

There are conflicting opinions on the reasoning behind the "Buddha" name in Buddha bowls. The Veganary suspects Stewart named Buddha bowls after Buddhist monks, since they often carry bowls with them to collect alms. The vegetarian aspect of the meals also mirrors the dietary teachings of the Buddha, which many (but not all) Buddhists interpret as a lacto-vegetarian diet, according to Healthline.

On the other hand, Asian Inspirations believes the name "Buddha bowl" holds no religious meaning at all. The site claims the restaurants that offer them do so as a marketing tactic, since the bowls started out as vegan meals. Joyful Balance shares a third possibility — that the dish was named after Buddha because of his big, round, full belly, comparable to the round bowl, filled with ingredients.

Regardless of the real reason that Buddha bowls are called Buddha bowls, one thing everyone can agree on is that these dishes include healthy ingredients for a balanced meal. Plus, the ingredient combinations are endless.