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Jay Dinshah, 66, American Vegan Society Leader
by S. Joseph Hagenmayer - from IVU News Oct 2000

Reprinted from The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2000

H. Jay Dinshah, 66, who as the leader of the American Vegan Society was an advocate for life without violence toward animals or humans, died on June 8, apparently from a heart attack while working in his office in Malaga, New Jersey. Both sides of his family had a history of congenital heart problems, relatives said.

A lifelong Malaga resident, Mr. Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society in 1960 and was its president for 40 years. He operated the society originally from offices in his Malaga home, where individuals seeking to become vegetarians or vegans would often come and stay for a week or perhaps a month to learn how to live both ethically and with a healthful diet. The society acquired a nearby office building in the mid-1970s. and Mr. Dinshah remodeled the building room by room.

"A vegan is a vegetarian for strictly ethical reasons - respecting the rights of all living creatures. Mr. Dinshah explained in a 1970 interview. "Not a religion, but a philosophy of life, veganism is an advanced way of living extending to all living creatures compassion, kindness and justice exemplified in the Golden Rule," he said. "Vegans abstain from all animal products including meat, milk, eggs, butter, fish and fowl, and true vegans will not use leather shoes or belts or wear furs."

Mr. Dinshah was raised as lacto-vegetarian from birth by his parents, the late Dinshah P. Ghadiali and Irene Grace Hoger Dinshah. His diet in later years consisted of fruits, salads, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. As a vegan. he also wore only synthetic or cotton clothing and canvas or plastic shoes. His ethic of reverence for life was expounded through writings and essays and crusades that took him across North America and around the world. He had helped organise conventions, including the 1975 World Vegetarian Congress at the Unlversity of Maine, that played significant roles in the development of the [American] vegetarian and vegan movements that flourish today.

Mr. Dinshah was the self-published author of Out of the Jungle in 1967 and Song of India in 1973 and had edited an anthology titled Here's Harmlessness in 1964. He had written numerous articles for Ahimsa, the Society's magazine.

At 23, Mr. Dinshah went to see a slaughterhouse on Front Street in Philadelphia, recalled Freya Smith Dinshah, his wife of 39 years. "It was so terrible an experience that I think it changed the direction of his life forever."

Mr. Dinshah was home-schooled by his parents. He enjoyed playing the piano and singing old songs. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Daniel and Anne. Memorial donations may be made to the American Vegan Society, Box 369, Malaga, New Jersey, USA 08328-0908

Mankar Memorial Award
It is customary at each World Vegetarian Congress to bestow the Mankar Memorial Award to an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution to the cause of vegetarianism. The most recent recipient, posthumously, was Jay Dinshah, whose living example of ahimsa will be remembered for a long time. Jay's wife, Freya, humbly accepted the award at the Banquet dinner during the 34th World Vegetarian Congress in Toronto.