Envisioning a society that embraces healthy lifestyle choices and is free of chronic disease.

VEI is a non-profit organization.

Our Mission

Many people are motivated to improve their dietary habits and make positive changes in their lifestyle. What they often lack is the education, instruction and support to adopt and integrate these changes. VEI sponsors residential retreats that offer individuals and families education and instruction on the benefits of a plant-based, vegetarian diet. These retreat services include lodging, meals, education, instruction, and recreational and socializing opportunities in a pleasant and protected environment. Attendees have the opportunity to learn, practice and ingrain new habits. They return to their private lives with the knowledge, skills and strength necessary to continue these healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.

VEI has assumed sponsorship of the French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp, a week-long retreat that has been held in the Sierra mountains of California for the past 50+ years. In addition to sponsorship of this annual retreat, VEI sponsors shorter events throughout the year, held in southern and northern California. The annual retreat and other events offer participants an opportunity to immerse themselves in a plant-based, vegetarian diet with the support of professional teaching and instruction. These intensive retreats will support the adoption of new dietary habits and ultimately lead to improved health and reduced risks of chronic disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. 

VEI programs are open to the public. VEI does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its programs or operations. VEI markets to the public via several channels including websites, social media channels, newsletters and word of mouth advertising.

Who We Are

The directors and officers of VEI are responsible for the administrative and budgetary management of the organization. They are also responsible for fundraising. The directors retain an independent contractor as Retreat Director with the responsibility to market, staff and manage the week-long retreat and shorter events. The Retreat Director uses paid and volunteer staff during the production of the actual events. 

VEI wishes to acknowledge the crucial role its many volunteers play in the production and success of its programs.

Meet our Directing Officers



Kenneth E. Goff is an accomplished Gong Whisperer/Percussionist, Level 3 Reiki Master, a Holistic Health Practitioner specializing in Asian Body Work and Massage, Yoga Instructor, and Meditation Guide.

Ken and his tribe of gongs travel the country to a wide variety of conferences, events and venues. He says, “I've been blessed, collaborating with devotional, heart-centered beings and musicians from many places. The world would be a kinder, gentler, safer place if the citizens of the world immersed in the sound and vibrations of a gong every day.”

Kenneth E. Goff lives in San Diego and is the owner of InXlation, where he offers gong immersions, massage and meditation services.

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Mariana Bergtold is a professional chef. She was diagnosed in 2000 with cancer and walked away from western medicine prior to treatment taking a holistic and macrobiotic approach to healing. Fundamentally changing her outlook on foods, their healing powers and how that effects ones’s balance and harmony in life.

Mariana worked extensively with the Kushi Institute and its community. Opened her own vegan/macro restaurant in the Berkshires, the Dancing Vegan. And produced her own line of artisan tempeh for over the past 19 years.

Her extensive background with non-profit organizations is a great asset to our team and mission.



Jeanne Grosset is a Natural Health Teacher and organizes events focusing on a plant-based diet and education since 2002. An entrepreneur in the vegan food service industry offering expertise in gluten free options, balancing menus and lifestyle practices for enhancing self healing. Jeanne is also the Retreat Director for VEI’s Summer Retreats, producing the event since 2017.

A passionate educator and chef, Jeanne is a Natural Health Teacher for the Center of Integrative Medicine at UC San Diego. Empowering students with cooking class series focused on a plant-based diet balanced for better health and longevity.

UC San Diego - Natural Healing Cooking Classes

Meet Our Board of Directors

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Chairman of the Board

Jean Richardson has practiced macrobiotics for 40 years, studied with renowned teachers, and managed two macrobiotic restaurants in Boston. In 1985, Jean started Gold Mine Natural Food Company, to educate consumers about the benefits of healthy eating and offer a complete line of mail-order macrobiotic foods. The company popularized the Ohsawa® brand of organic and traditional macrobiotic foods from Japan, throughout America. It also manufactures organic, raw sauerkraut and kimchi. Jean has two daughters and four grandchildren. She resides with her family in Idaho.


Board Member

Cybal Hall has dedicated her life to public outreach programs, volunteering countless hours to help others in need in the world of non-profit organizations. She is now joins VEI’s Board of Directors after working years aside the Retreat Director for event planning, donation recruiting and sponsorships. Cybal is the Director for VEI’s Kids Camp at Summer Retreat and is our Target Arts Master teaching and supervising our archery range for all ages, (over 3). 

Embracing a plant-based lifestyle Cybal enjoys her life with her husband Chris, eight children and three grandchildren in the Los Angeles area.


Board Member

Gabriella Gonsalves has a strong financial background in budgeting and accounting. She joins our team to guide VEI in the operations management for projects and events.

Gabriella has extensive experience in the film and television industry in Hollywood and New York. She has been instrumental in fund raising efforts and her host/director qualities are exemplary for event production. She is also a talented public speaker and actress. She will be spearheading entries for our variety show at Summer Retreat 2020 for our Kids Camp, Teens & Adults.

Photo by JohnDWilliams/iStock / Getty Images