Stretch Love Your Lunch: 11 Beautiful Ways to Say Grace Before a Meal From simple sayings to ancient prayers, these expressions from around the world and honor the life-giving sustenance of our meals. By Amanda Kohr Photo by Maria Orlova Throughout history, people of all different cultures and religions have paused before a meal in order to express gratitude for the nourishment food provides. This practice not only leads to a more present and enjoyable eating experience, but also helps us appreciate the great communal effort that goes into growing, harvesting, and preparing each ingredient. Before your next meal, consider using one of these 11 ways to say “thank you”: For the meal we are about to eat, for those that made it possible, and for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful. – From the humanist benediction In this plate of food, I see the entire universe supporting my existence. – Zen blessing from Thich Nhat Hanh The food is brahma (creative energy). Its essence is vishnu (preservative energy). The eater is shiva (destructive energy). No sickness due to food can come to one who eats with this knowledge. – Sanskrit blessing We receive this food in gratitude to all beings Who have helped to bring it to our table, And vow to respond in turn to those in need With wisdom and compassion. – Buddhist Meal Gatha We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together. We also give thanks for our friends and family who have traveled here today. May this meal bring us strength and health. – Variation on a Native American thanksgiving Blessed be the Earth for providing us this food Blessed be the Sun for helping it to grow Blessed be the Wind and Birds for carrying its seed Blessed be the Rain for the water’s loving flow. Blessed be the hands that helped prepare this meal, May those hands and our hands, bodies too, be well and quick to heal. Blessed be our friends, our families, and all of our loved ones. Blessed be our mother earth, our father sky and sun. – Christian mealtime prayer Dear earth who gives to us this food, Dear sun who makes it ripe and good, Sun above and earth below, Our loving thanks to you we show. Blessings on our meal. – Secular mealtime prayer This food is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed. May we take only foods that nourish and prevent illness. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of our practice. – Thich Nhat Hanh’s meal chant Om, beloved mother nature, you are here on our table as food. You are endlessly bountiful, benefactress of all. Grant us health and strength, wisdom and dispassion, and help us share this with one and all. – Hindu mealtime prayer Let us be together; let us eat together. Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life. Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity. – The Upanishads As we come together at this special time, let us pause a moment to appreciate the opportunity for good company and to thank all those past and present whose efforts have made this event possible. We reap the fruits of our society, our country, and our civilization, and take joy in the bounties of nature on this happy occasion. Let us also wish that, some day, all people on Earth may enjoy the same good fortune that we share. – Red Bank Humanists — Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram.