Vegan restaurant wins Michelin star for the first time in France
A Michelin Star has for the first time been awarded to a vegan restaurant in France. ONA — which stands for Origine Non Animale (“Animal-Free Origin”) — is located in the small town of Arès, in the country’s southwest region, and is run by chef Claire Vallée.
“It felt like I got hit by a train,” Vallée told the Agence France-Presse (AFP). She launched the restaurant in 2016 with the help of crowdfunding from supporters and a loan from a bank known for supporting environmentally-friendly businesses. "It is because you believed in me, in this crazy bet beyond my doubts, my anxieties, my fears, but also thanks to our common work throughout these last four years that today we obtained our first star in the Michelin guide,” she told her supporters on the restaurant’s social media page.
Besides the Michelin award, Vallée also won Michelin’s recently introduced green star, which rewards restaurants that have a strong record of ethical practice. "We will continue on this path because this star is mine, it is yours, it is that of the impossible, it is the one that definitively brings plant-based gastronomy into the closed circle of French and global gastronomy," she added.
Vallée, who is a former archaeologist and a self-taught chef, became vegan after a trip to Thailand. Initially, she approached traditional banks to obtain the loan that would provide her the opportunity to open ONA but was met with negative responses: “They said the outlook for veganism and plant-based food was too uncertain," she told AFP.
ONA offers a seven-course evening menu for the price of 59 Euros. Some of their main dishes include a yellow zucchini ravioli with black truffle gnocchi and a chard ballotine with plant-based ricotta.
Other Michelin starred vegan restaurants are Kajitsu, in New York City, United States — which offers a Buddhist-inspired Japanese menu, including specialties such as fried mochi with grated daikon and mushroom dashi and a noodle rice with cabbage, yuba, and mushroom — and Seven Swans, by Frankfurt’s River Main, in Germany, which harvests most of its ingredients from its own farm not far from the restaurant.
Until it’s safe to visit ONA, you can be your own vegan chef! Check out lots of exciting vegan recipes by signing up for our vegan challenge here.