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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

January 1, 2009 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Getty Villa Restaurant Now Offers Vegan Options

When your VIP editors visited the J. Paul Getty Villa in Malibu, California, in September, 2008, we were less than excited about our dining experience in the museum's restaurant. To state it more simply, we were disappointed by the lack of offerings for vegans. There was only one item on the menu that could be made vegan: a Villa Salad that contained feta cheese.

As a follow-up to our experience, we decided to write to the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum requesting that the restaurant offer vegan options on its menu. A copy of the letter appears below.

September 16, 2008

Mr. Michael Brand, Director
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1779

Dear Mr. Brand:

We truly enjoyed our visit to view the Dilettanti Exhibit and the outstanding lecture by one of its members. The museum is to be commended for arranging for the exhibit and the speaker.

Our visit for the day would have been completely laudable but for our lunch experience at the Café at the Getty Villa. We realize that many restaurants do not readily accommodate people on a vegan diet, but it would not have been difficult for the Café to have more than just a Villa Salad as a dining choice. When our salad arrived, it was topped with feta cheese, even after we had instructed the order taker to omit the cheese. The server did graciously bring us another salad after noticing the ticket that indicated "no cheese."

What we encountered that day was a menu heavily loaded with animal protein and dairy. Examining the menu more closely, we believe it would be very easy to provide vegan options for many of the menu offerings.

It would be refreshing if the restaurant would make an effort to offer a few healthy vegetarian items without dairy that would be satisfactory to both vegetarians and vegans.

Zel and Reuben Allen

One month later we received the following letter:

October 13, 2008

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Allen,

On behalf of Michael Brand I would like to thank you for taking the time to offer us your thoughts on the menu at the Villa. They were helpful and certainly gave us a different perspective on our offerings. We are in the process of changing the menu to better reflect the seasonal ingredients available to us from our local farmers. We are mindful of the menu balance and will certainly add some of the options you requested.

Thank you again for bringing this to our attention. We look forward to serving you on your next visit to the Villa.

Heather Ogg
Director of Operations
Bon Appetit Management Company
Getty Villa

CC: Michael Brand

We decided to call Ms. Ogg a few days later to gain additional information about vegan options on the menu. We left a message for her but never received a return call. So we returned to our computer and drafted the letter below. This time we identified ourselves as publishers of Vegetarians in Paradise.

November 12, 2008

Ms. Heather Ogg, Director of Operations
Bon Appetit Management Company
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Dear Ms. Ogg,

When we wrote to Director Michael Brand in September, we described our difficulty in finding a vegan option on the menu at the Getty Villa. In your letter of response on October 13, you mentioned that you were in the process of changing your menu and that you "will be mindful of the menu balance and will certainly add some of the options you requested."

Our phone call to elicit additional information a few days later did not receive any response.

We are writing this time, not as private citizens, but as publishers of Vegetarians in Paradise (www.vegparadise.com), an online vegetarian magazine. We would like to inform our Los Angeles readers about vegan options at the restaurants at Getty Center and Getty Villa. As we wrote in our initial letter to Director Brand, "It would be refreshing if the restaurant would make an effort to offer a few healthy vegetarian items without dairy that would be satisfactory to both vegetarians and vegans.

We would be grateful if you would send us a copy of your updated menu. If it is in pdf format, you can email it to vegparadise@vegparadise.com. If by fax, let us know when so that we can turn on our fax. Our phone and fax number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Zel and Reuben Allen

Just when we had almost given up hope of receiving a response, we received the following email in December.

Subject: Getty Villa Menu
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 2:46 PM
From: Erin Malleus (EMalleus@getty.edu)
To: vegparadise@vegparadise.com
Cc: Frank Gurrola, Helene Kennan
Conversation: Getty Villa Menu

Good Afternoon,

In response to the letter we recently received, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your feedback and provide you with our current winter menu at the Getty Villa Cafe.

We appreciate your interest in our restaurant and hope you will visit the Getty Villa again soon.


Erin Malleus
Director of Operations
Bon Appétit at the Getty Villa
1200 Getty Center Dr.
Suite 400V
Los Angeles, CA 90049

310.440.5133 fax

Attached to the email was a pdf copy of the menu that we are presenting below.

Getty Villa Menu

Examining the menu, we were heartened by the fact that the Getty was making a conscious effort to provide options for vegetarians and vegans.

Instead of one salad, the Villa currently offers seven options for vegans. Dessert lovers will still go wanting, but vegans are accustomed to the lack of dessert choices in many restaurants.

Excited by the Villa's efforts to accommodate vegans, we responded to Ms. Malleus with the following email.

Subject: Re: Getty Villa Menu
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 3:22 PM
From: Zel and Reuben Allen
To: Erin Malleus (EMalleus@getty.edu)
Conversation: Getty Villa Menu

Hi Erin,

Thank you so much for your email. We want to commend you for creating such an appealing menu that will be friendly to vegetarians and vegans. We will gladly spread the word to our subscribers and let them know they will now be able to enjoy a delicious vegan meal when they visit the Getty Villa.

Health and Joy,

Zel and Reuben Allen
Vegetarians in Paradise

As we said in the letter, we commend the Getty for recognizing that vegans look forward to a pleasant dining experience when they visit the Getty Villa. We encourage our readers to send an email to Ms. Malleus (EMalleus@getty.edu) expressing appreciation to her and the Getty organization for being vegan friendly in their restaurants. Anyone at a loss for words can repeat or paraphrase our message to Ms. Malleus.

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