Ahimsa lights the way

Founder H. Jay Dinshah

H. Jay Dinshah


Jay Dinshah’s posthumous book Powerful Vegan Messages is coauthored by his daughter Anne Dinshah. Jay eloquently explains the ethical reasons to be vegan. Over forty vegan luminaries share their stories of how they were influenced by Jay. Anne encourages readers to explore ways to promote positive action in the world towards veganism.

H. Jay Dinshah was a motivational speaker, lifelong vegetarian, vegan since 1957, founder of American Vegan Society in 1960, editor of Ahimsa magazine, and president of AVS for forty years. More important than the positions held or organizations founded, Jay was excellent at planning vegetarian and vegan conferences and encouraging people to get involved.

After touring a slaughterhouse in 1957, he vowed to work every day until all the slaughterhouses are closed! Jay lived every day in tireless service to the cause of helping animals by educating people. His tools of choice were veganism and ahimsa. He believed in the powers of cooperation, nonviolent action, and communication. He married his penpal Freya who worked alongside him for forty years and continues as AVS president today. Their two children are Daniel and Anne.

Organizational Leadership: In addition to leading American Vegan Society, Jay also was a cofounder of North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) in 1974, the first NAVS president, and editor of Vegetarian Voice magazine. Various times he worked for American Natural Hygiene Society (now National Health Association) including as Acting Executive Director in 1983. He was also the first president of the Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) 1987-1989. Jay was on the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) Executive Committee as international council member 1967-1984 and executive vice-president 1971-1984.


Jay's Speaking, books, and awards

Speaking: Jay lectured throughout his adult life encouraging others with his powerful vegan message. He spoke in person in two dozen countries on five continents. Videos can be seen on YouTube at Powerful Vegan Messages.

Books: Some of Jay’s early lectures from the 1950s and 1960s are compiled in Health Can Be Harmless while Song of India chronicles four months of his lecture tour in 1967-1968. He edited Here’s Harmlessness: An Anthology of Ahimsa. His best-known book was Out of the Jungle: The Way of Dynamic Harmlessness, which provided much of the framework for Powerful Vegan Messages. Jay’s books and archived issues of Ahimsa magazine are available from AVS.

Awards: Jay was honored as a vice president of The Vegan Society (U.K.), inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame in 1993, and awarded Vegetarian of the Year 1996 (International) from The Vegetarian Society (India). Jay received posthumously the IVU Mankar Memorial Award in 2000. Ahimsa Volume 41 Number 4 commemorates his life and work.

American Vegan Society is about living compassionately without exploiting animals. We’re strong on health. I like working for positive change and a greener world. 

Freya Dinshah

President, American Vegan Society

My father founded American Vegan Society to make a better world for the animals. It’s exciting to work in a time when veganism is popular! 

Anne Dinshah

Vice President, American Vegan Society

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