Our Mission

Our mission is to build healthier lives by educating the public about the benefits of a plant-based, vegetarian diet.


Our Vision

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

Why We Exist

The state of health and diet in America.

The United States is facing significant health problems. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity-related conditions – including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer – are some of the leading causes of preventable death. The American Cancer Society ranks eating a healthy diet as a principal means of reducing the risk of cancer.  And the World Health Organization lists eating a healthy diet as crucial to a healthy heart and circulatory system. 

The benefits of a plant based, vegetarian diet based on macrobiotic principles.

There is nearly unanimous agreement by leading experts in health and disease prevention that a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle are the best weapons to fight many types of disease. The research supporting the health benefits of a more plant-based, organic and whole foods diet is too lengthy to list here, however, the National Institutes of Health offers a web page with an extensive listing of research: 

To this end, VEI offers educational programs to the public that promote healthy dietary and lifestyle choices. Based on macrobiotic principles - as taught by George Ohsawa, Herman and Cornelia Aihara and others - VEI offers a comprehensive approach to well being that can be practiced at a VEI retreat and continued in one’s own life.

Besides the many physical and general health benefits of a plant based, vegetarian diet, the mental and spiritual benefits can include: increased energy, emotional stability, and an improved outlook. 

Education & Instruction Offered by VEI

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.

How VEI’s Activities Are Funded

The activities of VEI are funded through several sources:

Retreat fees paid by participants
To view details and register to attend the 2017 retreat, go to

VEI is a private foundation that makes qualifying distributions directly for the active conduct of its educational purposes. ‘Directly for the active conduct’ means that the distributions are used by the foundation itself to carry out the programs for which it is organized and operated. 

The Vegetarian Educational Institute (VEI) is a non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the state of California. Any donations that have been made after June 21, 2016 are tax-deductible.

Photo by katherinerizzo/iStock / Getty Images

Contact Us