Whether you’ve made the choice to shift to a plant-based diet and want to overhaul your kitchen to match or simply love surrounding yourself with (and cooking) greens, a kitchen designed for plant-based cooking looks a little different and requires some key essentials to make meal prep efficient and enjoyable.
Note that the staples of a plant-based diet -—fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes — require different equipment and a unique flow. You’ll want easy access to fresh produce, effective ways to wash and prep, tools to make plant proteins and veggie-centric meals, and plenty of pantry space for all your whole food staples.
So, forget everything you thought you knew about kitchen layout and tools. This isn’t your grandmother’s kitchen, and you’re not making the meals you grew up with.
What Is Plant-Based Kitchen Design?
Plant-based kitchen design brings nature indoors by incorporating live plants and natural materials. It creates a warm, organic feel that can do wonders for your mood and productivity.
The core idea is to choose plants and greenery that will thrive in a kitchen environment. That includes things like:
- Herbs that can be used in your cooking
- Vegetables that you can pick and add to your meals
- Fragrant blooms to naturally scent the space
- Low-light tolerant houseplants for corners and countertops
In terms of materials, think natural wood, stone, rattan and eco-friendly countertops. Open shelving displays greenery and invites the outdoors in. Large windows, skylights or solar tubes maximize natural light which the plants need to photosynthesize and grow.
A plant-based kitchen doesn’t have to be an indoor jungle. Start with a few key plants that you can care for and build from there. Group plants together based on their light needs. Make sure they’re non-toxic since this is a food preparation area.
With some nurturing, a plant-based kitchen can become your oasis — a place where you feel calm and grounded, connected to nature’s rhythms even in the center of your home.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Kitchen
A plant-based kitchen design brings nature indoors and provides many practical and emotional benefits.
Improved Air Quality
Houseplants naturally filter the air, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis. Having plants in your kitchen improves circulation and helps remove airborne toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
Caring for plants in your kitchen can help decrease stress and anxiety. Studies show that interacting with nature improves mood and mental well-being. When you’re cooking or cleaning up in the kitchen, taking a moment to water, prune or simply appreciate your plants may help you feel more at ease.
Greenery enhances the look and feel of any space. Whether you opt for hanging plants, a windowsill herb garden or larger floor plants, adding flora to your kitchen decor creates a warm, inviting environment. The natural elements also help soften the hard surfaces like countertops, cabinets and appliances.
Easy Access to Fresh Herbs
If you enjoy cooking, having an indoor herb garden means fresh seasonings are at your fingertips. Common kitchen herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and chives do well indoors and require minimal maintenance. Simply snip off what you need while cooking and enjoy the convenience of homegrown flavors.
With the many benefits of plant life in the kitchen, a natural design is worth considering for any home. Start small by choosing a few easy-to-care for options, pay attention to lighting needs and soon you’ll be reaping the rewards of a plant-based space.
Key Elements of Plant-Based Kitchen Design
To create a kitchen designed around plant-based cooking and eating, there are a few key elements you should focus on.
Open and Flexible Space
A plant-based kitchen needs space for lots of fresh produce and an efficient workflow. Look for an open floor plan with room for a large pantry and plenty of counter space. Movable islands or carts give you flexibility to spread out or create separate prep areas.
You’ll want storage that keeps ingredients fresh and organized. A walk-in or built-in pantry provides space for bulk grains, spices and non-perishables.
For produce, install pull-out drawers, baskets or a separate fridge and freezer. Labeling systems help keep everything in its place. Under-cabinet and over-the-counter racks give you extra storage without taking up counter space.
Invest in appliances that can handle large volumes and perform various functions. A powerful blender, food processor, spiralizer and juicer are must-haves. A gas or induction stovetop and double oven offer lots of cooking space. Consider a steamer, air fryer or slow cooker for oil-free cooking methods.
Choose sustainable, natural materials like bamboo, stone, stainless steel and glass that won’t leach chemicals into your food. Look for low- or no-VOC paints, stains and finishes. Energy efficient LED lighting and Energy Star-rated appliances reduce your environmental footprint.
An open kitchen window or exhaust fan can bring fresh air into the space. If possible, choose an exhaust fan or vented range hood that vents outside. Run an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove grease, odors and pollutants from the air. Bringing fresh, clean air into your kitchen will make the space feel healthy and pleasant.
Plant-Based Materials for Countertops and Cabinets
When designing a plant-based kitchen, choosing eco-friendly countertop and cabinet materials is key. Some excellent options include:
Wood countertops and cabinets — like bamboo, oak and maple _ create a warm, natural look. Wood is sustainable, durable and can last decades, too. However, wood does require more maintenance to prevent stains, scratches and water damage. Wood countertops specifically need to be sealed properly. For cabinets, wood stains and finishes in lighter hues help reflect more light.
Countertops made of recycled glass, like glass stone or fused glass, are an eco-friendly choice. The glass is melted down and fused together with binding agents to form solid sheets. Glass countertops are extremely durable, heat-resistant and stain-proof. They’re aesthetically pleasing, too, since their recycled nature gives them a shiny, speckled appearance. However, they tend to be more expensive and heavier than other options.
Concrete countertops are both sustainable and unique. Concrete can be poured in place or pre-cast and installed. Either way, concrete countertops should be sealed to prevent staining. They develop a natural patina over time and no two countertops look the same. However, concrete can be porous, scratches easily and releases dust. For cabinets, concrete finishes and stains provide an industrial look.
A popular choice in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is a popular, hygienic choice for plant-based kitchens, too. Stainless steel countertops and cabinets are made from recycled steel and aluminum. They are non-porous, heat-resistant and nearly indestructible. However, stainless steel shows fingerprints and water spots easily and can be noisy. Stainless steel countertops specifically should have a sound-deadening layer installed underneath.
Bringing natural elements into your kitchen design is a great way to create a relaxing, organic feel. Creating a calming, natural kitchen filled with plants, natural light and natural materials lends a bright, fresh and harmonious feel. It’s also a space where everyone — meat-eaters included — will want to linger.
Searching for more ideas before, during out after your move? Be sure to check out our blog — it’s filled with tips and tricks to get the juices flowing.