During February we will be concentrating on 29 days’ worth of pioneers of vegan cuisine. None of those days will be devoted to Freya Dinshah, who prefers not to be honored; instead she tips her hat to the Vegan Cuisine Month honorees and says, “The range and stature of vegan cuisine has advanced tremendously through the years by the efforts of many people who must be honored. Let’s celebrate their accomplishments.”
And so we shall. But that won’t stop us from taking this opportunity to note Freya’s own contributions to vegan cuisine in the US, which are crucial. She wrote The Vegan Kitchen (1965), the first cookbook in the U.S. to use the word vegan in the title and the first to explain the ethics of veganism.
She is pictured here arriving in the US (from the UK) in the summer of 1960 to join H. Jay Dinshah, who would soon become her husband, in running the newly-founded American Vegan Society. She notes that she was mentored early on in vegan recipe development by her mother-in-law, Irene Grace Dinshah, who is the honoree for February 1st.
Freya negotiated with food service personnel for conference catering (1974-1999) and created the first vegan volume recipes for use in colleges, restaurants, hospitals, and other institutions. Vegetarian Cooking for 100 is a card-file system originated for the 1975 World Vegetarian Congress. She conceived the book Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook (2012) to empower the next generation.
Freya has taught cooking classes since 1969. She currently is the nutrition educator at a neighborhood afterschool program. And of course, since 1960 she has been working daily for the American Vegan Society, of which she is now president.
While Vegan Cuisine Month celebrates a wide variety of pioneering efforts in establishing vegan eating as a mainstream idea in this country, it’s good to recognize the founder of that celebration, a true pioneer in her own right, who keeps on pioneering every single day.