It was a delightful two-day experience. I wish that I could have been there longer. High praise. Once you get the Lake Michigan smells, sights, and feelings, it is hard to imagine this course elsewhere. The course is a vegan cooking school, disguised as one of the plant-based cooking retreats dotting America. It runs for five days.
There are classes on cooking healthy meals, education, and exercise. Taking place in a completely relaxed environment in a home that can give each person their own space. They are so successful with these events that they are branching out to host the retreats at a Lake Michigan Beach Resort and soon from Florida as well.
Jill Keb began her business under the name Vegan Gal. Her courses were established over 20 years ago with a course specializing in vegan cooking and philosophy. The VeganGal.com website was started in 2005 From Chicago, Illinois to, across the Lake, in South Haven, Michigan. She is joined by Kathy Taylor and Peter Mierwinski.
The Origin Story
Jill Keb and Kathy Taylor met in the 90s when they worked together in Chicago. Based on Jill’s influence, Kathy went plant-based. After a few years apart, Jill Keb started the Vegan Gal website and produced the DVD, “Don’t Change Your Food, Change Your Life,” back in 2005. This was when Jill and Kathy came together to start running courses to teach paying customers about a vegan lifestyle.
Jill Keb met Peter Mierwinski, more recently. At a big event in Chicago featuring a presentation by Dr. Barnard. Peter was enthusiastic, “to know him is to know this is true,” and Jill encouraged him. They made their way to a class together. In class, Jill asked Peter, “Hey, you want to help me?”
Peter Mierwinski helped Jill and Kathy build the first series of courses. Their teaching led to the Vegan’s Kickstart Program. It was recorded, edited, and turned into a series of videos. After their initial success, they became a team.
Be The Cooking Class
Jill has done many different types of cooking classes. From corporate wellness classes to the West Michigan Cancer Center, and Gilda’s Club. Jill has been invited to school districts. PCRM Food for Life classes. She has taught in a company that built car parts. In the beginning, Jill covered a lot of random cooking themes in her cooking series. So, that took her many years of doing classes on the side before it became plant-based cooking retreats.
There have always been plant-based cooking retreats run out of Jill’s home. From the start, there were weekend retreats. The shorter events just morphed into week-long retreats.
The New And Improved, Plant Life Journey
For Kathy, it was all about the science of what the food is doing to your body. Kathy has a focus on life expectancy. She will likely bury us all. She is one American Eagle Outfitters trip away from looking like she is ready to start college again. It was Jill’s influence that led Kathy down a healthier path, and eventually, a career path.
Now the three of them have started The Plant Life Journey Company. This is the branding for week-long classes. Covering the environmental impact of meat production. Getting into training the customers how to shop in their local supermarkets. Also, teaching the students how to experiment with the food that is best for them. Finally, taking a portion of the day for group fitness.
Quotes From The Teachers
Jill Keb: “It’s been a process and a journey to where I actually thought to myself it’s a miracle. This is a miracle in action that I probably could’ve not eaten those pancakes today, or I that ate them without slathering maple syrup all over them. I could’ve actually had a bowl of oatmeal, like that is a miracle in action because that was not who I was. I was a food addict.
Peter Mierwinski: “I started down this path initially for health reasons and that kind of blossomed into the culinary world for me. I love cooking. I love food. Finally, I love sharing it with other people. So, for me, it was kind of a natural journey to follow down this path, and I loved it, and it opened up a whole new world for me.”
Kathy Taylor: “I just love seeing the transformation that people tend to feel and go through when they’re doing this program. I love being able to feel like it’s part of my purpose to help support that because when I started my journey, I had Jill, who was awesome.
Helping People Start Their Own Plant Life Journey
The Movement Toward Plant-Based Community And Support For Plant-Based Cooking Retreats
When Plant Life Journey was started by Jill Keb, there was not a lot of outside community and support. It was the non-judgemental, Veganism that was quite difficult to find. Finding a focus on Veganism as it is for making your body healthy is a fairly new concept in food and cooking. It has also been found that a whole-food, plant-based diet does have a positive environmental impact which draws people in to learn more. Compassion for animals will always be at the core but new converts have all kinds of reasons to join this movement.
For Jill, her favorite part of the entire week would be Thursday. The people start to get excited about making changes in their life. These people that take the course understand that this is something they can do every day. A visitor to the plant-based vegan retreat named Jay came by this morning and said, “I feel good now.” Another visitor dropped their diabetes numbers and is feeling better in such a short time. So, for the team, their favorite part is hearing, “Okay, wow, I feel like I can be successful at this.”
Kathy will tell you that it starts with you. If you can’t do it for yourself then you will feel the impacts in other areas. So being a support center and even the ongoing support that we’re willing to give people after they leave here. That is what she likes about it. Peter agrees that watching the support system work is one of the greatest pleasures in life. There is helping other people in such a short amount of time here is certainly a miracle. With this intention, it is surprising that just one of these plant-based cooking retreats can pay dividends in such a short amount of time. Then there is the chance that these visitors to any plant-based cooking retreats will tell all their friends.