The Planta Maestra Philosophy: Healthy Eating Yields Happy Living in Santiago

Walking into Planta Maestra is like walking into one of those organic food megastores fused with a local café… but better. The aroma of freshly cooked couscous, the sound of soothing Hindu chants, and a pleasantly welcoming ambience fuse to create the coziest of places to grab a healthy bite, read, write, or shop for organic products.

 Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)
Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)

There are three Planta Maestra locations in Santiago: Planta Antonio Varas, Planta Manuel Montt, and Planta Merced. The owners of Planta Maestra are Hermann Hinrichsen and his business partner, Nicolás Alfsen. Hinrichsen's last name is of German-Danish origins, but both Hinrichsen and Alfen are Chilean.

Hinrichsen describes the motto of each location as “naturista vegetariana” (naturalist-vegetarian). To the owners of Planta Maestra, the most important part of the Planta motto is “naturista”, using the term to encompass the meaning of a natural and healthy life.

Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)
Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)

In Hinrichsen’s opinion, the best way to develop good health is through the body, as the body is “a person’s primary relationship with the universe.” Good health therefore begins with healthy eating. Hinrichsen believes that once the body is taken care of, “a person can then focus on everything else that needs attention in the world around them.”

With a menu of tofu and avocado ceviche, pesto sandwiches, sushi, fresh smoothies, and a reasonably priced menu del día (fruit juice, soup, main course, and tea for about $8), Planta Antonio Varas promotes the idea of mindful eating.

Although Planta Antonio Varas is the only Planta Maestra with a café, all three branches sell fresh fruits and vegetables, dry fruits and nuts, tea, and super foods. They also sell vitamins, organic cosmetics, and Spanish-language books. The books cover topics from vegetarian cooking to guides on reflexology and the Tao of Health and Sex. Hinrichsen offers advice on how best to use products in order to maximize their healthy effects.

Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)
Planta Antonio Varas (photo by Hannah Schiff)

Such a mix of products may seem confusing at first, but Hinrichsen describes the philosophy behind it all. One of the main goals is that Planta Maestra helps to create and facilitate an “economy that focuses on the improvement of the planet and humanity rather than money.”

The produce at Planta Maestra comes from agricultural workers who are treated and paid well. The indigenous music, international atmosphere, and range of books create a multicultural consciousness for patrons. All of these practices spring from the same philosophy of creating a lifestyle and type of economy that improves living standards and the environment. Hinrichsen says, “The point of Planta Maestra is to present the people in Santiago with an alternative to their current lifestyle in a city where not many alternatives exist.”

So, if you are wandering the streets of Santiago feeling like you have eaten one too many completos and have lost your way, stop into one (or all!) of Planta Maestra’s three locations: a healthy meal, a yoga class, or just having a read to some mellow background beats may get you back on track sooner than you think.

Planta Antonio Varas
Antonio Varas 1370; 20 minute walk down Antonio Varas from Metro Manuel Montt
-Cafeteria, Shop

Planta Manuel Montt
Manuel Montt 187; Metro Manuel Montt

Planta Merced
Merced 295; Metro Bellas Artes or Metro Universidad Católica
-Shop, Yoga

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