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A vegan restaurant in France has been awarded a Michelin star, the first time an establishment serving only plant-based dishes in the country to do so. ONA, the Ares-based restaurant that was crowdfunded for its launch four years ago, also won a green star from the revered dining rating guide for its ethical and sustainable practices.
For the first time in France, a vegan restaurant has won a Michelin star, defying plant-based skeptics in the traditional culinary world. Located in the city of Ares, not far from Bordeaux, ONA stands for Origine Non Animale, literally meaning “non-animal origin” to represent its 100% plant-based and animal-free cuisine.
“More than a restaurant, it’s a way of life,” writes the Guide Michelin in its review. “The beautifully dressed plates feature a splendid array of fruit and vegetables. Greatly deserving of the attention it is garnering.”
The restaurant first opened its doors in 2016, after Claire Vallée ran a crowdfunding campaign and obtained a loan from green bank La Nef, while traditional French banks dismissed her business idea based on what they believed to be a “too uncertain” outlook for the future of plant-based and vegan dining.
More than a restaurant, it’s a way of life…The beautifully dressed plates feature a splendid array of fruit and vegetables. Greatly deserving of the attention it is garnering.Guide Michelin
In addition to winning the country’s first vegan Michelin star, Vallée also took home a green star, which only began featuring in the guide last year and which recognises restaurants that promote sustainable practices such as recycling, food waste reduction and sustainable ingredient sourcing.
“We work with seasonal, organic and local produce. Our green terrace, open in the summer, has 140 varieties of edible plants used in our kitchen. Our energy is renewable, and we have a compost system,” Vallée is quoted on the Michelin website.
Speaking about the moment she received the call from Guide Michelin, Vallée told AFP: “It felt like I got hit by a train.”
While the restaurant is currently closed due to coronavirus restrictions, dashing hopes of plant-based fans and flexitarian diners alike to experience ONA at the moment, its gourmet menu typically offers seven dishes.
We work with seasonal, organic and local produce. Our green terrace, open in the summer, has 140 varieties of edible plants used in our kitchen. Our energy is renewable, and we have a compost system.Claire Vallee, Chef & Owner, ONA
Vallée, who cites the late Jean-Christian Jury of Berlin’s Mano Verde restaurant fame as one of her inspirations, says that her favourite plant-based creations include a combination of pine, boletus mushroom and sake, or celery, tonka and amber ale.
That one of the world’s most respected dining guide and rating groups have awarded a vegan restaurant their coveted star is an indicator that plant-based food is no longer considered a niche, and is also a show of what is to come for the future of dining – especially as more consumers begin to couple their food choices with their concern for a degrading environment.
Globally, emissions from animal agriculture make up 18% of the annual total, topping the combined greenhouse gases produced by all transportation combined, from cars to planes.
Scientists have repeatedly called for a plant-based shift in order to combat climate change. In a landmark international study last year, experts warned that even if fossil fuels were to be eliminated immediately, the Paris agreement goals would still be out of reach without a drastic reduction in high-emissions meat and dairy-heavy diets.
All images courtesy of ONA / Guide Michelin.