Michelin Gives Stars to Plant-Based Restaurants

Over 80 vegetarian and vegan restaurants recently received fine-dining stars.


Food, Vegan
Chefs in a three-star restaurant.

(Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com)

Michelin’s fine-dining stars are coveted worldwide. How a restaurant ranks can determine whether it will be a success and the competition is steep.

Since the Paris-based guide’s introduction in 1900 by the Michelin brothers, this dining tool has followed the French tradition that cuisine has been about delicacies, gourmet  ingredients, and meat according to Climate and Capital Media. It has been very unusual for a vegetarian or vegan establishment to be considered fine dining until now.

Today, the judges of the guide have awarded 24 vegan and 57 vegetarian restaurants around the globe the highly sought-after stars. From Joia in Milan who received its first star in 1996 to Kings Joy in Berlin (2019) and Eleven Madison Park in New York who just went meat-free, the restaurant choices for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are growing.

For many people, changing to a plant-based diet is a no brainer. Climate change is making meat farming unsustainable.  Cattle production is the largest source of agricultural greenhouse gases worldwide according to the University of California Davis. Livestock is responsible for 14.5 percent of all global greenhouse gases.

Others choose this lifestyle because they do not want to consume animals, they are against animal cruelty in industrial farming, or for health reasons. The end results are an increase of people who are going meat-free or meat minimalist.

“Meat is insanely complicated –– both within the food system and the environment as a whole,” Dominique Crenn told Eater when her restaurant, Atelier Crenn in San Francisco received three stars in 2019. “Local and sustainable fish and vegetables are just as, if not more, versatile –– and delicious.” It was a Michelin first.

Surprisingly, it took until 2021 for a vegan restaurant in France – ONA for Origine Non-Animale – to receive its first star. Opened in 2016 by Claire Vallée, a self-taught chef, she had to crowdfund to raise funds because she couldn’t get a bank loan for a vegan restaurant according to Climate and Capital Media.

Upon receiving notice of her star award, Vallée wrote on her Instagram account: “This goes to show that nothing is impossible… We will continue on this path because this star is mine, it is yours … it is the one that definitively brings vegetable gastronomy into the closed circle of French and global gastronomy.” 

The Michelin guide is published in many countries and cities around the world. Ranked from one star for a very good restaurant to three stars for only the most exquisite, it has been the bible of fine dining. In 2020, Michelin introduced a green star for outstanding environmental and ethical practices. Now you can easily choose a restaurant that is in line with your own ethical beliefs.

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