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Healthy, Wholesome Buddhist Temple Food

Healthy, Wholesome Buddhist Temple Food

Healthy, Wholesome Buddhist Temple Food

Discovering the Joys of Korean Temple Cuisine

As a passionate foodie and health enthusiast, I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of temple cuisine. The idea of nourishing one’s body and soul through mindful, plant-based eating has long fascinated me. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a hidden gem in the heart of Boston’s Koreatown that I truly understood the transformative power of this ancient culinary tradition.

Stepping into a Serene Sanctuary

One crisp autumn day, I found myself drawn to the unassuming facade of Bongeunsa Temple, tucked away amidst the bustling streets of Boston’s Korean enclave. As I stepped through the ornate gates, a sense of tranquility immediately enveloped me. The air was filled with the gentle aroma of incense, and the sound of a distant bell chime seemed to still the constant hum of the city.

Guided by a kind-eyed monk, I was ushered into the temple’s renowned dining hall, where the principles of Buddhist temple cuisine were about to unfold before me. [1] As I took my seat on the floor, cross-legged and with a sense of reverence, I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection to the centuries-old traditions that had brought me to this moment.

Mindful Eating, Mindful Living

The first course arrived, a simple yet exquisite arrangement of seasonal vegetables, carefully prepared with a touch of seasoning that brought out their natural flavors. As I took the first bite, I was struck by the depth of the flavors and the harmonious balance of textures. But what truly captivated me was the sense of mindfulness that permeated every aspect of the meal.

The monk, sensing my awe, explained the core tenets of Buddhist temple cuisine. “In our tradition,” he said, “the act of eating is not merely a means of sustenance, but a sacred ritual that connects us to the earth, the sky, and all living beings.” [2] He went on to describe the “Five Contemplations” that are recited before each meal, a practice that encourages gratitude, moderation, and compassion. [3]

As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel a profound shift within me. The hectic pace of my daily life seemed to slow, and I found myself fully present in the moment, savoring each bite with a sense of reverence and appreciation.

Exploring the Bounty of the Temple Gardens

With each course that followed, the depth of the temple cuisine’s connection to the natural world became increasingly evident. The monk proudly shared the origins of the ingredients, many of which were harvested from the temple’s own organic gardens. [4] He spoke of the meticulous care and attention that went into cultivating these bountiful offerings, and how the act of growing and preparing the food was itself a form of meditation.

I marveled at the vibrant colors and textures of the dishes, each one a masterful balance of flavors and a testament to the temple’s reverence for the earth. From the delicate mushroom and spinach rolls to the hearty mung bean and brown rice porridge, every bite was a revelation, simultaneously nourishing my body and soothing my soul.

Embracing the Simplicity of Temple Cuisine

As the meal progressed, I found myself shedding the layers of preconceptions I had carried with me. The temple cuisine, with its focus on simplicity and seasonality, seemed to strip away the unnecessary and allowed the true essence of the ingredients to shine. [5] There was no need for elaborate sauces or flashy presentations – each dish was a celebration of the natural world, prepared with care and reverence.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the teachings of the Buddha, who urged his followers to seek contentment in the present moment and to find joy in the basic necessities of life. [6] In that temple dining hall, I felt a deep sense of connection to this timeless wisdom, and a renewed appreciation for the beauty that can be found in the most humble of ingredients.

A Journey of Transformation

As the meal drew to a close, I found myself reluctant to leave the serene sanctuary of the temple. The experience had left an indelible mark on me, challenging my preconceptions about healthy eating and inspiring me to rethink my relationship with food.

In the days that followed, I found myself drawn back to the temple, eager to continue my exploration of Korean temple cuisine. With each visit, I discovered new layers of complexity and nuance, from the intricate art of fermentation to the meditative practice of tea ceremony. [7] But beyond the culinary delights, I found something even more profound – a path to a healthier, more balanced way of living.

As I incorporate the principles of temple cuisine into my own life, I can’t help but feel a profound sense of gratitude and wonder. This ancient tradition, born of the Buddhist faith, has the power to nourish not just the body, but the soul. And in a world that so often prioritizes speed and excess, the lessons of temple cuisine remind us of the beauty that can be found in simplicity, mindfulness, and a deep reverence for the natural world.


Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply seeking a healthier, more fulfilling way of eating, the temple cuisine of Korea has the power to transform. From the serene sanctuaries of Boston’s Koreatown to the verdant gardens that supply their ingredients, this culinary tradition offers a glimpse into a world of harmony, balance, and profound personal growth. So why not embark on your own journey of discovery and let the wisdom of the temple inspire a healthier, more wholesome you?


[1] Blakesley, J. (n.d.). Dharma Talk. Retrieved from

[2] Access to Insight. (n.d.). SN 3.13: Sutta Nipata 3.13. Retrieved from

[3] Plum Village. (n.d.). Five Contemplations Before Eating. Retrieved from

[4] Tante Marie. (n.d.). Blog. Retrieved from

[5] Dhamma Wheel. (n.d.). What happens later to the food that are offered in Buddhist temples? Retrieved from

[6] Healthy Foodie Travels. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[7] The Shooting Star. (2019). Japan Vegan & Vegetarian Survival Guide. Retrieved from