Jay Dinshah, 66, vegan society leader
by S. Joseph Hagenmayer
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 last hursday 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
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 organize conventions, including
the 1975 World Vegetarian Congress at the University of Maine,
that played significant roles in the development of the 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 a son, Daniel J.; a daughter, Anne;
six brothers; and a sister.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Vegan
Society, Box 369, Malaga 08328-0908