Trying to think of a nice present for your loved one or a good friend this holiday season? Why not give a gift of health by helping that person learn how to cook plant-based whole foods?

This is an extension of the philosophy that you can give a person a fish and feed that person once, or you can teach a person to fish and they can eat for a lifetime. Learning to cook whole, plant-based foods is learning to eat healthfully for a lifetime. There are several opportunities to learn.

Seventh Day Adventist Supper Club: Once a month, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Hilton Head Island, Dr. Karen Holland gives cooking lessons that are fully plant-based. Participants learn how specific dishes are made, and the evening is highlighted by then eating a supper comprising the dishes made. It’s not necessary to be a member of the church. Contact the church at for more information.

Food for Life Classes offered through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: This is another local opportunity. Classes taught by Leslie Haas, a certified PCRM instructor, focus on whole, plant-based cooking, usually around themes such as foods for prevention and reversal of diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

Each session involves video lectures by Dr. Neal Barnard and lessons in cooking by Haas. Again, the class eats the foods made during the class. New classes are forming now for January. More information can be found at and then search in the state of South Carolina.

Forks Over Knives Rouxbe Cooking School: Is online learning more your style? Rouxbe Cooking School offers a wonderful way to learn whole foods, plant-based cooking. And it’s hands-on.

Videos show how to do everything, and then cooking assignments are made. During the cooking, participants photograph their work and send the photographs in for a personal grade by an instructor.

From personal experience, I can say that these instructors do give good personal attention to your work. Once I tried hiding the fact that I burned an item, but they caught it anyway. Get more information at www.forksover

Global Roots offers an onsite, weeklong, hands-on cooking immersion at a resort with top chefs, cookbook authors and cooking instructors from the plant-based world teaching their latest recipes.

I recently completed their immersion summit in October and found it to be excellent. More information can be found at

Any or all of these are perfect ways to get someone started on cooking the healthy, whole foods, plant-based way. I’ve done all of them myself and can attest to the high quality of each.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer and photographer.