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 the Board of Directors

Sean Braniff

President, has been a vegetarian since his graduation from the business school at University of Colorado. Something of a novelty then, Sean is thrilled to have witnessed the consistent rise of vegetarian/plant-based dietary choices among Americans. He discovered macrobiotics in the early ‘90s and has been attending the French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Conferences with his wife, Saci McDonald, for over 15 years. His professional background is varied, from directing residential rehabilitation programs for the mentally ill to CEO of securities trading back office operations. He is a professional project manager and feels privileged to be a part of the VEI management team. Sean lives in San Rafael, California.

Michael Brown

Treasurer, became vegetarian in the late ‘60's in conjunction with becoming involved in a meditation practice. He adopted a macrobiotic lifestyle in 2006 in response to several health issues. Michael has owned and operated three vegetarian restaurants, two in California and one in Guadalajara, Mexico. His 40-year career as an environmental engineer focuses on renewable energy, energy/resource conservation, waste treatment and recycling. Michael is a veteran of the French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Conferences and was on the George Oshawa Macrobiotic Foundation Board of Directors for four years. Michael lives in Walnut Creek, California.

Jean Richardson

Secretary, is President and Founder of Gold Mine Natural Food Company in San Diego. She has practiced macrobiotics for over 40 years, studied with the Kushis, and managed two macrobiotic restaurants in Boston. In 1985, Jean started Gold Mine, which carries a full line of macrobiotic staple foods. The company imports and distributes Ohsawa® brand organic/traditional macrobiotic foods from Japan, manufactures organic, raw sauerkraut and kimchi, and has been a supporter of the French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Conference for many years. She was on the George Oshawa Macrobiotic Foundation Board of Directors for two years. Jean lives in San Diego, California and has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Meet Our Retreat Director

Jeanne Grosset

Jeanne is a Natural Health Specialist in the Los Angeles area. Her company 7th Element Services focuses on educating, nourishing and empowering people on the natural path of health. Working with her husband Patrick Grosset, they offer a weekly meal service, cleanse program and ongoing cooking classes throughout the year. She has a quick read eBook for those getting started on a plant-based diet - "Fit & Trim For Life: 7 Keys To Success". Jeanne has a background in the motion picture industry as a graphic designer, retiring from film and TV when her children were born. Jeanne lives in LaCrescenta, CA.

Photo by JohnDWilliams/iStock / Getty Images