Meet Your Vegan Neighbors!

Greetings, neighbor! We’re happy to meet you, and look forward to seeing you at Vegan Kalamazoo events.


hillaryandjanHillary Rettig, cofounder of Vegan Kalamazoo, is a writer, teacher, and coach specializing in productivity and time management. She was born in New York City, and also lived for many years in Boston, but has been in Kalamazoo for two years and loves it. Her favorite spots are Alamo Drafthouse, Kalamazoo Athletic Club, and the Farmers Market. She’s a former foster mom of four Sudanese refugee teenagers (“Lost Boys”) and a living kidney donor. Check out her Website and feel free to email herJan Tobochnik was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Kalamazoo for nearly thirty years. He is a professor of physics at Kalamazoo College, plays racquetball, and is also an accomplished cook. His two sons, Steven and Howard, attended Loy Norrix High School, where Steven was on the cross-country team and Howard wrestled. Hillary and Jan live in the lovely Stuart Neighborhood with their two senior rescue dogs Billy the Pomeranian and Petey the Poodle.


laurie“Hi! My name is Laurie Oldfather, an enthusiastic member of Vegan Kalamazoo and host of the Living Vegan social groups. I’m very passionate about promoting a veganism lifestyle. I am a divorced mom of seven children, ages 18 to 33, work part time, and volunteer at the Cheff Center, a therapeutic riding school in Augusta. Viewing Forks over Knives back in 2012 changed my life forever. I am convinced about my “awareness” choice being a great one, for the betterment of so many…for the planet…for the people…for the animals. This is a choice of compassion, of nonviolence, of environmental friendliness, and of enhanced human animal health overall, quite actually, readily available for all! COME JOIN US AT LIVING VEGAN…SUPPORT! WE ALL SURE NEED IT!”



wendyandmatt“Howdy! We’re Matt and Wendy. We met as grad students in the Behavior Analysis program at WMU. We’ve been vegan since reading The Food Revolution by John Robbins in 2007. (We were vegetarian prior to that since 1990 for Matt and 1995 for Wendy.) We got married in 2008 with all vegan food at the reception. We’re both instructional designers who design and develop computer-based corporate training. Matt has an adult daughter (also vegan) who will be moving to Japan this summer. We could give dozens of reasons that we became vegan in the areas of animal welfare, environmentalism, global hunger, health, etc. But we think that Edgar’s Mission (a farm sanctuary in Australia) says it quite elegantly: “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others…why wouldn’t we?”


PJ and MakiPJ and Maki are long-time vegans who met on a veg dating site! PJ went veg in 1992 at age 15, much to the dismay of his hunting/fishing family, and went vegan in college in 1997 after reading Diet for a New America. He worked for a national AR group for over 10 years, has lived, traveled and eaten great food all over the country, but moved back to his hometown (Paw Paw) a few years ago to be closer to his family and buy land to grow a permaculture “food forest.” He studied abroad in Japan in college, where eating vegan was tricky. Maki is actually the first Japanese vegan he’d ever met—vegetarianism is not common in Japan, though Japanese do eat tofu products and soymilk regularly. Like PJ, nobody else in Maki’s family is veg and they don’t really “get it,” but we love cooking and sharing great food with them. We also love gardening, foraging, cats, and skateboarding. PJ is a graphic designer and Maki works as a translator, we live in Lawton with two cats.


michael pawlegaMichael Pawlega is a student, professor and researcher at Western Michigan University. He graduated with a bachelors in arts and bachelors in science from WMU in 2014. He also has worked with and is working with PETA2 on educating and outreaching students to pledge a vegan diet. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games, cooking great vegan food, playing guitar, and dancing to EDM. He has been vegan for two years after working with PETA2 on Warped Tour ’13 talking with concertgoers about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and hopes to inspire others to choose a cruelty-free lifestyle. Michael currently lives in the “student ghetto” with plans to move to Grand Rapids in the near future. If anyone wants to get in contact with Michael, his e-mail is


Chris and Kali

“My name is Chris Hendrickson and I cofounded Vegan Kalamazoo in April of 2013. I got interested in veganism after graduating from Western Michigan University with a bachelor of science focusing on Plant Biology and Physiology. I learned the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, which was later confirmed after reading studies published which attribute negative health indicators in humans. Entrepreneur, activist, educator, and helper are titles that seem fitting to describe myself. In my spare time, I enjoy educating myself on whatever particular interest I have at that moment, producing music and mixes via my Hector Cruze product, tutoring science and math, discussing philosophy, listening to all styles of music, podcasts such as Freedomain Radio, Hardcore History, Tim Ferris Show and Keeping The Rave Alive or audiobooks and browsing RedditEmail Chris. Note: In September, 2015, our cofounder Chris moved, with Kali, to Massachusetts to take a job doing full-time vegan activism with The Humane League! Yeah Chris!


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