Ahimsa lights the way
Freya Dinshah became AVS president in 2000 after being secretary since 1960. She has been a Trustee since 1960. She is editor of American Vegan magazine (2000-present) and author of The Vegan Kitchen, the first US cookbook (1965) with vegan in its title. Freya is coauthor with her daughter Anne of the book Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook (2012).
She has been a key organizer for local and national events to encourage compassionate, healthful living. Freya has taught cooking classes to people of all ages for over fifty years. She is a lifetime vegetarian and vegan since 1960. She serves as nutrition educator and teaches basic cooking skills to children ages three to eighteen at afterschool programs in southern NJ.
Gabriel Figueroa has been a Life Member of AVS since 1992, vegan since 1990. Gabriel has felt connected to AVS since attending the Garden Party and Council Meeting in 1992. The impact of the Dinshahs and AVS on his life was significant as a young vegan, and it continues to influence him today. His service to AVS comes from a desire to give back to this important organization.
Gabriel holds bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and religious studies and a master of business administration. He is currently an account manager for a major technology company. Gabriel is the co-founder and co-owner of Rabbit Food Grocery, a 100% vegan store in Austin TX, operating since 2012. His active participation in the Austin vegan community since 1993 has played a critical role in its becoming one of the most vegan friendly cities in the nation. Gabriel shares his life with his three adopted cats who constantly remind him that animals are people too.
Trustee/ VP /Managing Editor
Anne Dinshah has been a Trustee since 2001. She became AVS vice president and managing editor of American Vegan in 2013. Anne is a lifelong vegan, third-generation vegetarian, mom to Clint who volunteers for AVS, and as of 2019 guardian-“mom” for Nardos. She is the author of Dating Vegans and Healthy Hearty Helpings. She coauthored the kids’ cookbook Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake with her mother Freya and the book Powerful Vegan Messages with her late father Jay. Anne credits Freya for instilling in her a love of cooking and Jay for a love of speaking to large audiences.
Anne has a MEd in sport administration from U of Texas – Austin, BA in American studies from U of Notre Dame. She has had a career as a professional rowing coach for over twenty-five years. She brings her leadership and knowledge of teamwork from sports to building AVS’ winning team.
2nd Vice President
Sarah Filippi-Field is a South Jersey native and Rutgers University-Camden alumni, graduating in 2019. She became vegetarian in 2011 and vegan in 2015. She has been a volunteer at American Vegan Society since September 2015 and became second vice president in November 2018. In addition to animal rights activism and trying new vegan food, she enjoys hiking, playing the violin in a string ensemble, and traveling.
Barata El is an Outreach Volunteer who often emcees AVS events. He is a lifelong resident of South Jersey; he became vegan July 1 1991. Barata has a B.A. in theater arts from Rowan University. He married a beautiful native Jamaican woman in 1988 who is not vegan, so he totally understands love and socializing with people who aren’t vegan yet. He has written articles for American Vegan magazine and is an accomplished poet.
Andy Mars first served AVS as a trustee when he was asked by founder Jay Dinshah in the mid-80s and returned to the council after Jay’s death in 2000. Dr. Mars has been director of his totally vegan camps for kids since 1993 and runs K-12 school and enrichment programs. He is the director of Veg Kids and of the Kids Made a Difference foundation as well as the rabbi of Bnai Tov vegan synagogue. His personal mission is: “Helping make a difference in the lives of kids; helping kids make a difference in life.”
Rebecca Aslam is a nutrition advisor for AVS and American Vegan magazine. She has written many articles published in American Vegan and at times is also an assistant editor. She is a registered dietitian working to educate both patients and employees at a teaching hospital in MA. She is a lifelong vegan and fourth-generation vegetarian. She loves experimenting with vegan cooking and is a member of the AVS Speakers Bureau.
Victoria Moran, General Advisor, has been vegan for over 35 years and a longtime supporter of
AVS. Moran is an inspirational speaker, host of the Main Street Vegan podcast, and the founder and
director of Main Street Vegan Academy, training and certifying vegan lifestyle coaches. She is also the
bestselling author of thirteen books covering topics from philosophy to cooking, and she is the lead
producer of the documentary, A Prayer for Compassion, introducing vegan living to people of faith. She
lives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City with her husband, rescue dog, and handicapped
Christina Pirello’s love affair with food began at a young age. She would put her cooking skills to the test when she was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Meeting (her now husband) Robert Pirello would change her life forever; he helped her adopt a healthier lifestyle and diet, and she overcame the odds of her diagnosis and developed an expertise in cooking with whole-natural foods. She is an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, macrobiotics, and has a Masters Degree in Nutrition. She teaches vegan/macrobiotic cooking, has authored eight cookbooks and is the hostess of the Emmy Award-winning TV show Christina Cooks.
Anthony Dissen is a registered dietitian nutritionist, focusing on plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine. He works as a professor at Stockton University in the School of Health Sciences, and teaches courses on human nutrition, therapeutic nutrition, community and public health nutrition, health communication, health literacy, and the medical humanities. In addition, Anthony provides presentations and workshops on nutrition, health, and wellness for a number of different nonprofit organizations throughout NJ.
Ana M. Negrón, M.D., was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Dr. Negrón is a board-certified family physician who has made cooking with patients integral to her practice. She helps people transition to a whole-plant diet, thereby reducing the inflammation which is at the root of most chronic medical conditions. Dr. Negrón volunteers at a clinic for the uninsured and teaches family doctors the role of food in medicine. Her book, Nourishing the Body and Recovering Health: The Positive Science of Food published by Sunstone Press, is an antidote to our reliance on pharmaceuticals.
Mark Rifkin is a nutrition advisor for AVS and American Vegan magazine. He holds a master’s degree in health education from Towson University and is a registered dietician. A vegan since 1986, he has been speaking on nutrition and food-related topics since 1997. He is a member of the AVS Speakers Bureau.
Sharonda Harris-Bunton is the owner/chef of Vegans Are Us restaurants in Vineland and Atlantic City NJ. Sharonda has a BA in sociology. She is a certified nutritionist, personal trainer, and certified instructor to teach bootcamp, strength training, Tabata HIIT training, bootcamp, and kickboxing. Sharonda is also an actress and model.
Sharonda’s mission is to convert one person at a time to vegan by using her comforting soul food. Many customers share that they have completely changed their nutrition plan to vegan since visiting Vegans are Us and are sticking with it. This is the best kind of news Sharonda likes to hear.
Eric Nyman owns and operates Wildflower Vegan Café in Millville NJ, one of the longest-running all-vegan eateries in the state. A longtime vegan and second- generation vegetarian, he enthusiastically advises start-up vegan businesses and seeks to create environments conducive to enlightenment. Eric minored in history and holds a BA in philosophy from Montclair State University and enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and woodworking. He wishes his vegan son would eat vegetables and all exploitation would end, but isn’t sure which will happen first.
More to come!
Sherimane Johnson is the Vegan Chef and owner of Night Owl Vegan (the Philadelphia-based vegan meal plan service), NaturallySweet Desserts (a vegan bakery) and Plant Powered Shift (a coaching program that assists in the transition to a vegan lifestyle). Sherimane’s experiences with the health benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle encouraged the creation of the businesses and interest in sharing the benefits with others. Sherimane works with the local farms and high schools in the community to connect farms and the youth to inspire interest in veganism, food insecurity, and environmental stewardship. Sherimane holds a B.S. in Behavioral Science from Mercy College in NYC. She enjoys cooking, vegan food festivals, and old school hip-hop.
John Pierre, General Advisor, has loved American Vegan Society since he first met H. Jay Dinshah at a conference in 1994 Jay introduced JP to ahimsa. Jay’s lectures were great, but what JP cherished most was when everyone else was going to various other lectures, JP would walk the other direction to the bookstore to be with Jay in the quiet times when Jay was working.
JP is a nutrition and fitness consultant, famous as a personal trainer to celebrities, rock stars, and Fortune 500 CEOs. People know they will get fit with JP, they eventually value the ahimsa message too.
JP is the author of the book Pillars of Health and runs an animal sanctuary in Colorado. Livingwithharmony.org
Staff working at our headquarters in NJ and/or remotely
Graphics Mngr/Asst Editor
Carolyn Githens is the graphics manager/assistant editor for American Vegan magazine and an AVS events and marketing assistant. She has a B.A. in fine arts with a concentration in graphic design from Stockton University.
She has been vegan since 1986 and began working at AVS in October 2006. Carol’s cats (Simba and Naomi) are vegan too. Carol has taught vegan cooking classes as community outreach. She is also the vice president of Vegetarian Society of South Jersey.
Carol is passionate about music, nature, and outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and biking, and discovering new places off the beaten path.
Mktg & Comm Dir/News Ed
Vance Lehmkuhl is a longtime vegan journalist and event planner with a track record in communications and the marketing of vegan initiatives. Prior to his stint at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News (where he worked in various online capacities and wrote Philly’s first vegan newspaper column), Vance worked in the Communications department at the Pew Charitable Trusts and managed circulation at the Curtis Institute of Music Library. He also helmed two large-scale exhibits in the main entrance area of the Free Library of Philadelphia and wrote on a variety of topics for more than a decade at Philadelphia City Paper.
Gabby Mora is the membership and development manager at AVS. Going vegan in 2015 moved Gabby to leave her previous career in higher education and follow her passion for helping animals by working at nonprofits. Gabby worked at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary, and PETA before coming to AVS. Originally from Venezuela, Gabby came to the United States on a tennis scholarship at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee. She graduated with dual degrees in Mass Media and Business, continuing on to complete an M.S. in Advertising and Communications from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.S. in Community Development and Public Affairs from Rutgers University-Camden. Having lived in Tennessee, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, Gabby now lives in South Jersey with her two vegan pit bulls, Arlo and Mabel, with whom she enjoys going on hikes and watching horror movies.
Dave Saul is the maintenance manager for AVS’ buildings: the educational center, the office and warehouse, and four small outbuildings. Dave is interested in learning about veganism and enjoys discovering likable vegetables at AVS’ daily staff lunches. He grew up on a large dairy farm in South Jersey. Contact: 856.694.2887
We have many volunteers, those listed below volunteer the most hours. If you would like to volunteer with us, please get in touch.
Oliver Claypool became Finance Manager in May 2020. He does the accounting for AVS which includes managing the back-end finances in all areas such as donations, sales, and expenses. He also manages customer relationships in cooperation with the marketing department and enjoys increasing the public awareness of AVS.
Prior to AVS, Oliver was an investment accountant and financial analyst for major billion-dollar corporations and earned his MBA in finance from Emory University. He is excited to merge his passion for helping people run effective businesses with AVS’s mission of promoting compassion for animals. With AVS’s traditions and strong track record as a leader in the vegan movement, Oliver is utilizing his skills with technology to further develop AVS’s outreach.
Oliver has been vegan-sympathetic since 2009 and was featured in the AVS-published book Dating Vegans (as a nonvegan dating a vegan). He is currently enjoying reconnecting with his values and embarking on his own vegan journey.
Oliver likes biking, hiking, and learning about everything in general with a specific fondness for nature.
Lois Dinshah enjoys proofreading American Vegan magazine and volunteering in the office with tasks such as payroll taxes. She has been vegan since 1962. Lois enjoys gardening and her houseplants, doing yardwork, and taking line-dance class. She has 6 children, 14 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren. She likes to talk to animals and plants; she notes that the squirrels in her yard are too fast for conversation.
Vickie Collette volunteers for AVS as an events assistant. Vickie became vegetarian in the mid-1980’s; she decided to try a completely plant-based diet in 2008 and has been enjoying exclusively vegan cuisine ever since. Her main goals were to better her health and to protect the environment. When she moved to NJ from Philadelphia in 2004, she noticed there were vast number of fast food chains and restaurants, but not many serving healthy fare, which made it difficult to eat out. She found American Vegan Society (AVS) on the internet and has been enjoying AVS events ever since. “AVS has educated me the purpose of veganism. At the AVS-hosted dinners and educational programs I was introduced to new friends who have similar interests.”
Lauren Herrschaft has been volunteering as AVS Development and Outreach Assistant since December 2019. Lauren was drawn to AVS due to our deep roots in the animal rights movement and our positive impact on the lives of human and nonhuman animals over the years. Lauren currently assists the AVS team in fostering strong relationships with their members and donors and loves meeting new people (and animals!). Lauren’s current careers are in healthcare marketing and real estate investment.
She has been vegan since December 2017 and is an ethical vegan activist on a mission to increase peace and equality worldwide for all living and breathing beings. She looks forward to the day when where all animals have rights, all human beings’ basic needs are met, and mother nature is respected, protected, and in balance.
She currently lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her amazing husband and their rescue companion animals; a little chi-weenie dog named Cali Marie and two curious cats named Lucky and Charm. She loves spending time with her loved ones, being in nature, hiking, reading on the beach, and traveling.
Jen Collins volunteers for AVS as a communications intern. She is a junior at Neumann University where she majors in communications and digital media and is on the soccer team.
Ashton Hicks has been an Assistant Editor for American Vegan magazine since spring 2017. In 2019 she became a marketing and communications intern for a semester, then returned to volunteering with AVS. Ashton is a molecular genetics major with a Leadership Studies minor at SUNY Fredonia. She enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as learning about lifestyles that are different from her own. She enjoys learning about the vegan lifestyle and although Ashton is not vegan yet, she highly recommends the food. She loves reading all the diverse submissions to the magazine.
Clint Merrick Dinshah performs a variety of jobs at AVS. His biggest task is Fitness Manager where he reminds everyone to maintain their health by taking breaks from the office work and have fun outdoors doing activities such as croquet, tennis, baseball, hiking, or even yardwork. He coordinates team outings such as kayaking and bike rides. Clint also makes cooking videos for kids, does mailings with Freya, and especially enjoys being the human snow plow or raking leaves. Clint is a full-time student whose favorite subject is physical education. He writes the column “Do Fun Things” for American Vegan magazine.
American Vegan Magazine Team
See above for Editor (Freya Dinshah), Managing Editor (Anne Dinshah), Graphics Manager/Assistant Editor (Carolyn Githens), News Editor (Vance Lehmkuhl), Assistant Environmental Editor (Mark Rifkin), Assistant Editor (Ashton Hicks), Proofreaders (Jen Collins, Clint Dinshah, Lois Dinshah), Nutrition Advisor (Rebecca Aslam), Nutrition Advisor (Anthony Dissen)
Jal Dinshah enjoys proofreading American Vegan magazine. He is a lifelong vegetarian, vegan since 1961, and a brother of AVS founder H. Jay Dinshah. Jal became a member of Mensa in 1964. He retired from his occupation at a laboratory glassware manufacturing plant for forty-one years in various positions including office manager. He helps his brother Darius promote their father’s color health system, Spectro-Chrome.
Jal loves listening to classical music; singing; trees; bright colors, especially purple; and books on topics such as geography, medicine, and religion. He has recorded his life experiences through photography and a collection of over 5000 photos. His favorite letters and numbers are E, J, V, 3, 7, and 9, but Jal has never played the lottery.
Info coming soon!
Jill Van Rawley is a longtime educator and mother of two wonderful almost-adults. Her younger child is vegan and the one who set her on the path. She has a master’s degree in the humanities because she likes to know a little bit about everything! In her free time, Jill enjoys reading, doing puzzles, walking, gardening, creating art and music, and rock-climbing.
Faylee Favara was a vegetarian for 20 years and has been a vegan for 15 more! She is a professional theater director and educator as well as a prevention specialist focused in gender and violence. As a freelance proofreader and copyeditor, she finds joy in volunteering with AVS.
Dale has been the American Vegan environmental editor since 2014. He studied architecture for three years at Cal State Polytechnic U, then earned a BA and MA in philosophy from Cal State U Long Beach and an MA in philosophy from U of California, San Diego. He has over twenty years of Buddhist study, practice, meditation retreats, and teaching. Dale is the author of The Wisdom of the Buddha: Using Mindfulness to Change Your Life (2019), as well as over 50 scholarly and popular articles.
He has taught college philosophy classes for more than thirty years and has served as codirector of the nonprofit Ahimsa Acres Educational Center since 1995.
Dale’s main passion is learning, including helping others to learn. He is honored in the AVS Speakers Bureau and his areas of interest include the ethics of personal food choices, voluntary simplicity/low-consumption living, environmentally conscious home-food production, understanding the processes of personal and societal change, and engaged Buddhism.
Elliot Walsh is the associate editor for American Vegan magazine as of August 2018. In addition to editing, Elliot helps develop new content and AVS’ social media presence. He began as an assistant editor for American Vegan in May 2017. Elliot’s “day job” is a freelance content writer for the marketing company TheHOTH as well as for a few other clients. For his writing, he specializes in health, veganism, LGBTQ+ issues, and science. Elliot is a 2017 graduate of University of Rochester with a B.S. in cell and developmental biology and a B.A. in English literature. For fun, he likes to catch up on YouTube videos, run, and read.
Carrie Plummer has been vegan since 1989 and is a founding member of Northern Vegans. Carrie and her husband, Jeff, happily homeschool their born and raised vegan son, Henry. Carrie is an advocate for health freedom, practices yoga regularly, enjoys hikes, nature, and music and has discovered from her son that even the tiniest of creatures need rescuing. The Plummers learned more about life, love, and veganism in the summer of 2020 when Henry found Pierre, a grasshopper with a severed jumping leg. Pierre lived with the family for 5 months before he passed on.
Yuyao Huang is currently pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition and looking forward to working as a dietitian to help people with healthful eating. She was a cuisine intern with AVS during spring/summer 2016 and continues to help the team remotely as an assistant editor. In her free time, she enjoys nature, music, crochet, and good foods.
Info coming soon!
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AVS is a registered 501(c)3 organization, EIN 226058533. All donations made to the American Vegan Society are tax deductible.