The Rise of Vegan Baking in Paris: Fad or Revolution?

Vegan viennoiserie pastries at Land & Monkeys bakery in Paris (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan “viennoiserie” pastries at Land & Monkeys bakery in Paris (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Veganism and vegetarianism have continued to grow in popularity in Paris over the past decade, giving birth to a plethora of meat-free and plant-based cafes, bakeries, restaurants, and even cheese shops in the capital. And despite lingering stereotypes of Parisian waiters scoffing at requests for vegan dishes or oat milk in coffee orders, the city’s culinary landscape has been significantly evolving over the past few years. And while traditionalists may still insist that meat and dairy are essential to every meal, the tide is turning. 

At culinary launch events for the Paris 2024 Olympics, for instance, vegan and vegetarian cuisine took center stage, with chefs eagerly embracing the challenge of crafting delicious meat and dairy-free dishes. And Michelin-starred heavyweights such as Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard have taken huge and risky leaps towards making the menus at their acclaimed restaurants Sapid and L’Arpège mostly or exclusively vegetarian.

For me, though, the most interesting question isn’t whether veganism has been accepted in Paris, but whether vegan offerings can match the taste and quality of their traditional counterparts—a question I set out to explore in a handful of the capital’s plant-based bakeries.

VG Pâtisserie (photo by Rachel Naismith)
VG Pâtisserie (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Vegan Baking Pioneers in the French Capital

There have been some brave pioneers in vegan baking and pâtisserie in Paris. While the iconic baguette—made solely with wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast—has been inherently vegan since the 1920s, when a French law codified its composition, vegan versions of other traditional bakes emerged much later.

A notable figure in this movement was Bérénice Leconte, who opened VG Pâtisserie, the city’s first 100% vegan enterprise, in the trendy 11th arrondissement in 2017. Her mission is to democratize plant-based pâtisserie for everyone, whether they avoid animal products for ethical or dietary reasons. 

VG Pâtisserie offers the familiar sights and scents of a traditional French bakery, with glossy lemon tarts and intricate entremets: layered desserts encased in mousse. Leconte’s scientific approach to baking, backed by her engineering degree in Food and Health, allows her to replace traditional ingredients like eggs and cream with suitable alternatives that act as emulsifiers and coagulants.

Land & Monkeys on Boulevard Beaumarchais (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Following in the footsteps of VG, Land and Monkeys, Paris’s first 100% vegan boulangerie and specialized in breads, opened just before the Covid pandemic. Founded by Rodolphe Landemaine, who also owns the traditional Landemaine chain, this bakery on Boulevard Beaumarchais in the 11th arrondissement marked a significant new development. 

There are now six locations around the city, with each offering rows of viennoiseries, brioches, pâtissière, bread loaves, cookies, sandwiches, and even vegan versions of croque-monsieur toasted sandwiches.

Another innovator, Washington D.C.-born and Cordon Bleu-trained Amanda Bankert, founded Boneshaker in 2015, offering 100% plant-based products in the central 2nd arrondissement. This American-style establishment introduced vibrant, glazed donuts—a novelty in Paris—and made them without animal products.

vegan donut from boneshaker donuts, paris

Interestingly, Boneshaker didn’t start out as a vegan establishment. Bankert’s challenge was to offer something new to Parisians while ensuring that ‘vegan’ wasn’t somehow suggestive of culinary deficiency, so she gradually adapted her recipes without informing customers, and by 2020, the shop was fully vegan.

{Related: Best Street Food in Paris, From Banh-Mi to Burgers & Gelato}

She even released a cookbook, Voilà Vegan, in 2023, which includes plant-based baking tips and dining recommendations in Paris. My international and Parisian friends alike adore her donuts, praising them not for being vegan, but rather for their exceptional taste and fun flavors (I’m particularly fond of the peach and basil donut they release each August). 

Bankert’s decision not to emphasize the term ‘vegan’ is part of a broader trend among these pioneers. Despite their commitment to plant-based baking, most prefer subtler terminology. Landemaine, for instance, avoids using the word ‘vegan’ in his Land and Monkeys shops, opting instead for végétale (plant-based) in small print.

This careful choice of language reflects deeper cultural sensitivities in France. Recently, a government decree attempted to ban the use of meat-related terms such as ‘steak’ and ‘ham’ for plant-based products, claiming these terms could mislead consumers.

However, it’s faced significant legal challenges and has been suspended multiple times by France’s Conseil d’État, the highest administrative court, due to doubts about its legality and potential harm to the plant-based industry.

Julien Cantenot, Founder of Bakery Atelier P1, weighs in

Vegan and non-vegan tartelettes from Atelier P1 (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan and non-vegan tartelettes from Atelier P1 (photo by Rachel Naismith)

I discussed the plant-based trend with Julien Cantenot, founder of my favorite local boulangerie in northern Paris, Atelier P1, which has recently opened a new branch in the nearby suburb of Pantin. While Cantenot himself is not vegan, he avoids dairy and grew up on a diet rich in vegetables and fruits with minimal animal products. This personal history has influenced his introduction of vegan products. 

Atelier P1 is a “nouvelle boulangerie”, turning away from the old-school bakery format with its modern interiors, well-heeled clientele, and a focus on organic sourdough and high-quality, fair-trade ingredients. Like other contemporary boulangeries in Paris, such as Mamiche, Tapisserie, and Petite Île, Atelier P1 isn’t strictly vegan or vegetarian. However, they ensure there’s always at least one vegan sandwich, a sweet and savory tart, and a cookie or sweet treat available each day—all blending seamlessly with their other tasty offerings.

When I mentioned I was writing a piece about vegan baking, he quickly pointed out that using the vegan label at his boulangerie “would put people off”.

“We’re not vegan, but we’re trying to make vegan products, especially when it doesn’t change the taste [or the] texture,” he explained. “What we love is when people eat vegan stuff and they don’t know that it’s vegan, and they like it.” 

Vegan bakes from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan bakes from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)

It’s evident, then, that despite the increasing availability of vegan food options in Paris and the city’s growing openness to animal product-free options, there remains a certain uneasiness with the term ‘vegan’ that is possibly more pronounced than in other European capitals.

Cantenot agrees: “It’s really different when you sell [products] as vegan. People think it’s not going to be good.” When I asked why, he emphasized that butter and dairy are a “big part of the culture,” adding, “this is really the country of butter”.

His observations also highlighted how terms like “vegan” or “gluten-free” are often seen as synonymous with deprivation and a lack of enjoyment. 

Vegan Pâtisserie from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan Pâtisserie from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Nevertheless, Cantenot notes that locals have been very receptive to the new Pantin branch, despite initial concerns that the higher prices—due to organic ingredients and longer staff hours for making sourdough—might be ill-received.

“They know [that a typical] baguette is cheaper, but they also know the next day it’s dry. They are ready to pay a bit more,” he says, “for bread that has greater longevity and quality ingredients”. 

It is worth noting that while baguettes are affordable, vegan viennoiserie and specialty items can be less accessible from a budgetart standpoint. Nouvelle boulangeries often charge a premium, making vegan options more expensive.

In my short reviews below, I note that some places charged more for vegan counterparts of traditional items, though there were a few exceptions– like the viennoiserie and brioche at Land and Monkeys and the entremets at VG Pâtisserie– which were very much aligned, price-wise, with traditional bakes.

Tomato tartelette from P1 Atelier (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Tomato tartelette from P1 Atelier (photo by Rachel Naismith)

I asked Cantenot how he ensures the vegan bakes taste as good as the traditional ones. “It’s sometimes a bit more complicated, especially the dough,” he said.

“Cream is easier, but the dough is much harder to work.” He then showed me a vegan fruit tart at the Pantin counter. Filled with almond frangipane and dough made from his mother’s recipe using olive oil and a blend of whole meal and white flour, it looked identical to the regular version.

Like all of Atelier P1’s bakes, it had a rustic charm and was topped with seasonal rhubarb. He also pointed out a buckwheat and black sesame seed cookie I had bought previously at the Lamarck outlet. It was sweet, nutty, and chewy—I hadn’t realized it was vegan until our interview.

When I inquired about vegan croissants and pains au chocolat, he responded firmly, “Viennoiserie… we don’t do it,” arguing that places like Land and Monkeys can offer vegan viennoiserie in tourist-heavy areas, but that would be a step too far for more local spots like the near-suburb of Pantin.

Perhaps, but I do think the clientele at these more modern boulangeries are increasingly open-minded and willing to explore. It might be time for them to consider broadening their plant-based horizons even more, given the robust demand.

Testing Vegan Bakeries in Paris: A Mixed Bag

In my quest to answer the question of whether vegan bakeries could maintain the high standards of some of their traditional counterparts, I sampled a selection of vegan bakes around Paris. Results were decidedly mixed, as I detail below.

Inside vegan café Aujourd'hui Demain (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Inside vegan café Aujourd’hui Demain (photo by Rachel Naismith)

P1 Atelier

Bakes tasted: Tomato tartlet and rhubarb tartlet

Both tarts, in signature Atelier P1 style, were handmade and rustic looking. The olive oil-infused, semi-wholewheat dough of the tomato tart was less flaky and golden than traditional tart dough. While it didn’t feature the usual, buttery flakiness, it offered a nicely nutty quality and was still packed with flavor. The tomatoes were juicy and fresh, and the basil pesto drizzle added a delicious, slightly salty, touch. Warmed through, it was quite addictive.

Vegan rhubarb tartelette from P1 Atelier (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan rhubarb tartelette from P1 Atelier (photo by Rachel Naismith)

The rhubarb tart looked so traditional that I initially thought I’d accidentally picked up a non-vegan one. The pastry was fabulous and surprisingly luxurious without any dairy. It wasn’t dry at all, with delicate, toasty layers and a hint of ginger. The almond paste was smooth and not cloying, providing a rich, melt-in-the-mouth nuttiness. Notably, the vegan version of the rhubarb tart was €0.70 more expensive than the original, though it was very tasty.

  • Address: 41 bis Rue Hoche, 93500 Pantin
  • Metro: Hoche / Porte de Pantin

Land & Monkeys 

Vegan croissant from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Vegan croissant from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Bakes tasted: Hazelnut and caramel cookie, croissant, brioche roll, apricot tart

Overall, I was very impressed by the selection on offer here. The pastries looked amazing and glossy—you certainly couldn’t tell this was a non-traditional boulangerie. There were many vegan renditions of French classics: croque monsieurs, a ‘Sandwich Parisien’ with vegan “ham”, butter and cornichons, and even petit pain aux lardons: delicate rolls topped with cheese and plant-based lardons (French bacon).

Caramel and nut cookie from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Caramel and nut cookie from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)

The cookie, however, was a bit disappointing. It had an odd, greyish color and was topped with a heavy cluster of almond praline. The texture was grainy with no caramelized edge, and it was cloyingly sweet– with chocolate that tasted synthetic. I’ve had much better, including the sesame cookie from Atelier P1 that I mentioned earlier.

Next, I tried the vegan croissant, which is more challenging to perfect than a tartlet or cookie. Visually, it was impressive and looked similar to those in other boulangeries. The texture was better than expected, with some lamination and flaky layers, though slightly bready.

However, it lacked flavor and missed the richness and caramel notes I enjoy in a croissant. Most disappointingly, it had an odd synthetic aftertaste, possibly from a chemical in the vegan butter.

Their chocolate chip-studded brioche was far more impressive. It had an attractive top and was structurally sound, reminiscent (in a good way) of a French supermarket-packaged brioche. Soft and supple, the chocolate was sweet and rich, with much more depth of flavor than the pastry, and no synthetic aftertaste this time. It melted in the mouth.

Apricot Tart from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Apricot Tart from Land & Monkeys (photo by Rachel Naismith)

My favorite bake from this bakery was their apricot tart (pictured above). The seasonal fruits had just enough give and weren’t overly sweetened. The puff pastry was okay: not as rich as traditional counterparts, but better than some non-vegan fruit puff pastry tarts. Heated up, this pastry would be delicious. It was nicely balanced overall and simply prepared, which I appreciated.

  • Address: 86 Bd Beaumarchais, 75011 Paris
  • Metro: Chemin Vert

VG Pâtissière 

Pain au chocolat cross-section from VG Pâtissière (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Pain au chocolat cross-section from VG Pâtissière (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Bakes tasted: Pain au Chocolat, Raspberry mousse entremet

Again, walking in, I was very impressed with the selection displayed at VG Pâtissière, with the tempting-looking viennoiseries piled high on the shelves. The pain au chocolat had really impressive layers on the outside and looked flaky. It had more flavor than the croissant at Land and Monkeys, and the chocolate was very good quality. However, the pastry itself still lacked depth. The synthetic flavor present in the croissant was less pronounced but still noticeable, which I found quite off-putting.

Raspberry entremet from VG Pâtissière (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Raspberry entremet from VG Pâtissière (photo by Rachel Naismith)

The raspberry entremet was visually stunning, with a delicate, colorful glaze. Unfortunately, it was the biggest disappointment of the day. The layer of filo on the bottom was impressive:flaky, crisp, and thin. Beyond that, the mouthfeel was off, with an odd, gummy texture and a strange chemical taste.

The cake insert was dense but had some richness from the almond. Overall, the mousse and raspberry insert tasted artificial and lacked the freshness you’d expect from raspberry or elderflower.

  • Address: 123 Bd Voltaire, 75011 Paris
  • Metro: Voltaire 

Aujourd’hui Demain

Tarte tropézienne from Aujourd’hui Demain (photo by Rachel Naismith)
Tarte tropézienne from Aujourd’hui Demain (photo by Rachel Naismith)

Bakes tasted: Tarte tropézienne (€5)

I happened upon Aujourd’hui Demain by accident while walking between bakeries in the 11th arrondissement. It’s a vegan concept store with a cool cafe area and a shop selling cute clothes and vegan-themed tote bags and gifts (the ‘Tofu’ cap particularly amused me). While ordering at the counter, I also noticed that they offer vegan macaron-making classes.

For that day’s tasting, I went for the lemon tarte tropézienne: traditionally, this is a brioche filled with cream, which must present a real challenge to “veganize”.

It turned out to be my favorite, against expectation. Citrusy, fresh, and light, it didn’t have the lactic tang you might have expected, but it was still creamy and rich.

Most importantly, it didn’t taste fake or synthetic. The lemon flavor was almost sherbet-like and though the brioche was slightly dry on its own, with the light-as-air cream, it worked well.

  • Address: 42 Rue du Chemin Vert, 75011 Paris
  • Metro: Richard Lenoir / Voltaire

My Bottom Line?

My taste-testing of plant-based bakeries around the city, albeit representing a limited sample, was enlightening. My verdict, overall, is that the vegan baking landscape is currently mixed. Some offerings, such as the tarte tropézienne at Aujourd’hui Demain and the brioche at Land and Monkeys, were genuinely impressive in flavor and quality.

Others, however, had issues: notably the presence of synthetic flavors and mouthfeel in certain bakes. Nevertheless, what feels clear is that vegan baking in Paris is beginning to thrive, and that non-dairy and plant-based products are slowly climbing to reach the high standards of traditional French baking and patisserie.

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