Times they are a-changin'? French vegan restaurant awarded Michelin Star
The first vegan restaurant in France to win the award
France is the culinary capital of the world, but one thing that hasn't been the easiest to find over the years is vegetarian and vegan options. I've heard many stories of people visiting France, saying they're vegetarian, and being given chicken. However, in recent years, that has begun to change.
Since 2018, schools have been legally required to offer vegetarian or vegan options one day per week, and now, at the other end of the foodie scale, Michelin has awarded a star to a vegan restaurant near Bordeaux.
ONA, which stands for Origine Non Animale (animal free origins) and its owner and chef Claire Vallee were admittedly somewhat shocked to get the call from Michelin recently. Michelin told AFP that ONA is the first vegan restaurant in France to win a star.
ONA is located near the Arcachon basin in Ares, which is a seaside resort in southwest France and is known for its oyster farming, wild countryside and Europe's largest sand dune, the Dune du Pilat.
Speaking with France 3, Vallee said that this is, "one of the best moments of my life" and that she is incredibly proud of her team.
In a report, The Local said that ONA has also been awarded a green star by Michelin, which they started giving out last year for excellence in ethical practices. Vallee started the business in 2016 with a loan from a green bank, Le Nef, and a very successful crowdfunding campaign where €10,000 ($12,124) was raised. Vallee told AFP that traditional banks had told her "the outlook for veganism and plant-based food was too uncertain.”
Michelin came under fire for giving out awards in a year that most restaurants were closed, and other food guides cancelled awards, but Gwendal Poullennec, head of the Michelin Guide, defended the decision saying that it is a way to support the industry and noted that no one has lost any stars during this time.