H. Jay Dinshah
1933 - 2000
The vegan community has lost one of its most revered
and colorful pioneers. On Thursday, June 8, 2000, H. Jay Dinshah
passed away. Jay worked tirelessly and selflessly for over forty
years steering the American Vegan Society, which he founded in
1960. He was the pillar of the vegan movement in the United States
and is responsible for veganism's steady growth throughout North
Jay was an accomplished orator and a prolific writer who composed,
edited, and published countless AVS publications and books, including
his notable Out of the Jungle and the anthology Here's
Harmlessness. Jay's incisive essays and articles always enlivened
Ahimsa, the AVS magazine, and his penetrating commentaries
were invariably ahead of his time. Jay was not one to mince words.
He told it like it is, speaking from the heart, often on unpopular
issues, with insights that bellowed honesty and precision.
Jay was a modest man whose accomplishments belied his unassuming
presence. He dedicated his life to spreading the message of Ahimsa
and to putting his principles into action. Jay was the voice of
the moral minority. He courageously strove to bring awareness
to a world desperately in need of truth, sacrificing riches for
a life rich with purpose. Jay's keen wit, forthrightness, and
intelligent turn of phrase will be sorely missed. His legacy is
a solid and powerful vegan foundation upon which future generations
can stand and learn. His contributions to peace and compassion
Jay was a lifelong resident of Malaga, New Jersey.
He was born November 2, 1933, the sixth of eight children, to
Dinshah P. Ghadiali and Irene Grace Dinshah. Jay is survived by
his wife Freya, son Daniel, daughter Anne, sister Shireen, and
brothers Cyrus, Roshan, Jal, Darius, Noshervan, and Sarosh.
There will be a special tribute to Jay on July 11,
9:00 a.m., at the World Vegetarian Congress in Toronto, Canada.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations
be made to the American Vegan Society, Box 369, Malaga, NJ 08328-0908.
Written with love by Joanne
Philadelphia Inquirer obituary.
Here are some brief excerpts from the many beautiful
messages the Dinshah family has received:
On behalf of The Vegan Society in Britain, we send
our deepest sympathy and condolences. For so many years, veganism
in the U.S. has meant Jay, and vice versa. We trust that others
will pick up where he has left off and continue to campaign for
veganism. The best memorial he could have is a thriving American
George D. Rodger,
Chair of Vegan Society Council
Terry Bevis, Chief
Executive, The Vegan Society
Jay's passing is a great loss to vegetarianism which
cannot be filled. A void has been created. In 1998, the Vegetarian
Society bestowed on him the award for the Best Vegetarian of the
Year, International. When I read the news, for two minutes I was
dumbfounded. Jay, who is so regular, so devoted, and so dedicated
to the cause cannot die. His memory will be cherished forever.
Jashu Shah, General
Secretary, The Vegetarian Society, India
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Jay's passing.
It takes my breath away. He was such a jolly person, I expected
he'd outlive us all! There will be a huge void without him. Know
that many, many vegetarians all over the world are grieving with
you and share your loss. Now we have a special angel in our corner.
Marr Nealon, President,
Voice for a Viable Future
On behalf of the Vegetarian Society of Botswana,
and indeed on my behalf, I send our sincere condolences on the
sudden passing away of Jay. His absence amongst the animal rights
workers and vegetarians/vegans will always be felt. They will
be inspired in their work from Jay's ideals.
P K Jain, Chairman,
Vegetarian Society of Botswana
I find it so hard to take in that someone with so
much drive and energy is no longer around. Small consolation is
that he lived life to the full and achieved more than most people
do in many lifetimes. I remember his sense of fun as well as the
deep philosophical conversations we used to have.
Jen Thompson, England
Jay was always so wise and knowledgeable. He gave
everything of himself to the cause of helping animals to be treated
with respect. He once told me that he would not take a vacation
until the last slaughterhouse closed down. Yet, he was so humble.
He never bragged about all that he had done. He just did it. He
lived his message. He walked his talk. He made a significant difference
in the world. He brought tremendous light into the world and hope
to the suffering. His physical presence and new contributions
will be missed by many. But his spirit and his work will never
I can't tell you how much I was personally influenced
by Jay. Words could never express it. But I know that through
Jay and his writings he really impacted my views. In a way, he
was like a second conscience. At times when faced with a moral
dilemma, I would wonder what Jay would do. I really had a great
respect and love for him and his work. He inspired me in so many
Jay would get my vote for Vegetarian of the 20th
Century. I feel so fortunate to have known him. His life of 66.5
years could be raised exponentially in terms of what he gave.
Yet, I know that he is not really gone. His spirit lives on and
Gabriel and Tara
One of the most admirable things in life is to see
someone being a living example of what they truly believe in.
Jay did this with a burning passion. His own style of humanitarianism
-- indeed the entire Dinshah clan -- has in some way influenced
millions of people throughout the world. We were blessed to have
had him in this world, and he will be truly missed.
Barata El, New Jersey
We've not only lost an organizer and a resource,
we've lost a friend of deep heart AND vision. We lose at the same
time that we win. We win the vision of vegan living, but we lose
a great one who poured heart and soul into sharing with the rest
of us, most of whom he didn't have the chance to befriend personally,
but who are no less his beneficiaries in spirit.
Maynard S. Clark,
When I first read Jay's "Out of the Jungle," I thought,
"If the world were sane, it would find this book a classic, written
by a genius of compassion and courage." Those of us who were privileged
to know this gentle man of wisdom, integrity, and self-sacrificing
dedication, reluctantly bid him farewell, along with this solemn
promise: to honor his name and his life by continuing to work
for the rights of animals, continuing unceasingly, until humanity
steps out of the jungle and into the light.
Light and Gentle World, Hawaii
Please accept my condolences and my gratitude for
the enormous sacrifices the two of you have made over the years.
Without your willingness to speak on short notice at distant locales
to small and sometimes skeptical audiences, and without your constant
support of our common goals, I think the word "vegan" would still
conjure in the popular mind images of aliens from outer space.
As it is, there are now dozens of websites where the word is standard
argot and references in the scientific literature in which the
reader's understanding is assumed. Naming the AVS magazine "Ahimsa"
was brilliant, since in one word it summarizes all that one need
know about ethics and morality. Thank you so much for leading
the battle against one of the world's true evils.
William Harris, M.D., Medical Director, Kaiser-Permanente Vegan
Lifestyle Clinic, Honolulu, Hawaii
What a great loss Jay's passing means to the Vegan
cause. I believe Jay came among us to accomplish the sacred mission
of spearheading the Vegan movement worldwide, and his soul moves
on in the belief that he has been successful.
Diana Ratnager, Beauty Without Cruelty, India
Jay is one of the most widely known and most respected
leaders in the vegetarian, vegan, and health movements. His vision,
leadership, and old-fashioned hard work helped transform the vegetarian
movement into the essentially vegan movement it has become today.
Jay also made profound contributions to the American
Natural Hygiene Society through the years -- as a Board member,
as a writer and editor, and as acting executive director.
I am surrounded every day by the fruits of some
of his labors, all of the wonderful work he did creating (literally
with his hands) the ANHS National Headquarters here in Tampa.
The offices, warehouse, and, especially, the Herbert Shelton Library
all show the benefits of his thoughtfulness, planning, determination,
and attention to detail. Sharing an apartment with Jay during
the time he did this work gave me the privilege of witnessing
his strength of character as it manifested itself day-in and day-out.
Jay helped facilitate a personal transformation
for me long before I met him. He sold a number of Gandhi's books
to me (in the original Indian editions) and they opened the door
to a new way at looking at life. I am very indebted to him.
James Michael Lennon, Executive Director, American Natural
Hygiene Society, Inc., Tampa, Florida