Hand adding finishing touch to a very pretty vegan dish

22 January 2021 

ONA becomes the first vegan restaurant in France to get a Michelin star

In a French first, the Michelin Guide awarded a star to a vegan restaurant. ONA, which stands for origine non animale, has been entirely vegan from the start, shunning all animal-based products in both its kitchen and its dining room.

ONA is based in a small town on the Atlantic coast, and in addition to being fully plant-based, also works with organic ingredients, mostly from local producers. No surprise then, that it was also awarded a green star, a new 'sustainable gastronomy' category that Michelin created last year.

Chef and owner Claire Vallée, an archeologist by training, fell into cooking and then progressed towards veganism, which — as she describes it — is 'an ethical cuisine, respectful of life and of the planet'. After training in other restaurants, she wanted to create her own home for vegan gastronomy, but was denied loans by traditional banks. She was able to start ONA thanks to crowdfunding and a loan from La Nef, a savings and loan cooperative focused on financing social, ecological and cultural initiatives.

While vegan restaurants in Spain, Germany and the US have previously been awarded Michelin stars, ONA's win has extra significance in a country dedicated to cheese and cream, where per capita meat consumption is higher than in Spain, Germany, Italy or the UK. Could the star be a harbinger of increased interest in plant-based eating? Demonstrating that veganism can be a culinary experience could cause hesitant consumers to exclaim, as Valléé herself once did, 'What a discovery! What an obvious choice!' 

(Related: Veganuary founder launches deep-fried chick*n brand VFC.)

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