The featured image is a dish prepared at the Origine Non-Animale via Instagram
SILIGURI, West Bengal (India): Origine Non-Animale abbreviated as ONA is an establishment serving only vegan dishes. Now it comes into the limelight after it reportedly received the coveted Michelin Star. Not only that, it bagged a green star as well, which was awarded to recognize the ethical practices undertaken by the restaurant.
“It felt like I got hit by a train,” said an exhilarated Vallee describing her reactions when she got the news of her restaurant receiving the award, AFP reported. Claire Vallee is the owner of ONA, located in Bordeaux, France.
Vallee’s classy restaurant says, more than gourmet offering, ONA wants to be a place where respect for people, animals, and nature is at the center of all concerns, her website reads. She says her idea of an Avant-grade retro was duly complimented by her choice for a plant-based food that meets all our needs — ecology, biology, ethics, human beings, and health.
The restaurant was established using money procured from crowdfunding and a loan approved by a green bank in 2016. Crowdfunded projects do not need collateral. She managed to secure a loan from La Nef, a bank that loans out money to projects it deems ethical.
“This goes to show that nothing is impossible,” said Vallee on her journey towards starting the restaurant. Guide Michelin on ONA winning the star: “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.”
Initially, the journey to start the restaurant was not easy. Many financing companies rejected the loan request on the ground that a vegan restaurant is not the best place to invest. “They said the outlook for veganism and plant-based food was too uncertain,” says Vallee of the traditional French Banks who rejected her loans on various grounds.
The location of the restaurant in the Arcachon basin on the Atlantic coast was another major drawback according to investment criteria. However, against all odds, the restaurant came into being.
“The plant-based approach awakens awareness, twists the necks of clichés and preconceived ideas (a deficiency, tasteless cuisine, too expensive, intended only for a certain audience). It is a natural cuisine, elegant and refined, subtle, with a panel of unparalleled flavors, textures, and colors… Pythagoras said: “The Earth gives abundant wealth and peaceful food,” the ONA website reads.
Perhaps it is Vallee’s morale that “the most important thing is to enjoy doing this” is what made ONA where it is today. At times she wondered whether it was worth taking the risk as not many would vouch for a vegan start-up in a primarily non-vegetarian area but somehow, her determination persisted.
“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,” said Vallee. Their menu flaunts seven gourmet dishes.
The restaurant remains closed due to the ongoing pandemic. But every staff and chef of ONA is gearing up to serve more and more plant-based food lovers as soon the Covid restrictions are eased up.