France Just Got Its First Michelin Star Vegan Restaurant
ONA is the first vegan restaurant in France to earn a prestigious Michelin star. | Cécile Labonne

France Just Got Its First Michelin Star Vegan Restaurant

ONA is France's first Michelin star vegan restaurant. Located in the southwest, the restaurant is helmed by self-taught chef Claire Vallée.

France now has a Michelin star vegan restaurant.

Self-taught chef and former archaeologist Claire Vallée opened ONA—which stands for non-animal origin—in 2016. 

The vegan restaurant is located in the city of Arès. It serves a variety of organic, plant-based dishes featuring seasonal and local ingredients, many of which the chefs source from ONA’s own garden. The restaurant’s green terrace features 140 different varieties of edible plants.

According to the Michelin Guide’s review, the restaurant’s meals provide a “tasty journey through an unexpected gastronomy, which is expressed in all its complexity in the evening, around a seven-part menu. This original and creative table deserves your full attention.”

ONA is also sustainable—it uses renewable energy and has a compost system. This point did not go unnoticed by the coveted rating system. 

The Michelin Guide also awarded ONA a green star for its commitment “to advocating a virtuous, sustainable approach to gastronomy.”

This is only the second year the rating system has given out green stars. Out of 638 starred restaurants, only 33 received green stars for their sustainability practices.

ONA’s menu showcases seasonal and local ingredients. | Cécile Labonne

Vegan Michelin-Starred Restaurants 

Well-known for its car tire offerings, the Paris-based Michelin Company launched its first Michelin Guide in 1900. It awarded its first star in 1926.

The Michelin Guide awards one star to “a very good restaurant,” two stars to restaurants that have “excellent cooking that is worth a detour.”

Restaurants that have “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey” receive three stars.

The Michelin Guide held its award ceremony virtually this year due to the pandemic. Many restaurants were forced to close throughout 2020 to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

As we know, 2020 was a particularly challenging and difficult year for restaurant owners,” Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides, said in a statement

However, they welcomed diners whenever they could, and customers responded eagerly, demonstrating their deep fondness for fine cuisine,” Poullennec continued. “Our teams have been impressed by this show of solidarity and engagement. For us, it was important to honor our longstanding commitment to diners and chefs by publishing our 2021 selection of restaurants.”

Vegan Michelin-starred restaurants are a rarity. But, there are a number of vegetarian restaurants that have garnered the prestigious award in previous years.

Michelin awarded the vegetable-centric, Tokyo-based restaurant Daigo two stars as part of its 2020 Tokyo guide. In November 2019, Beijing-based restaurant King’s Joy was only one of two restaurants that entered the inaugural selection of the Michelin Guide Beijing, garnering two stars. And vegetarian restaurant Fu He Hui, located in Shanghai, scored one Michelin star as part of the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 edition.