- Dinshah, H. Jay
- (1933–2000)leader in vegetarian movement in United StatesH. Jay Dinshah was an American proponent of the vegan diet. He buttressed his arguments with Hindu concepts of nonviolence and respect for animals.H. Jay Dinshah was born in Malaga, New Jersey, on November 2, 1933, and raised as a lactovegetar-ian by his parents, Irene Grace Hoger Dinshah and Dinshah P. Ghadiali, an Indian who immigrated from Bombay (Mumbai) to the United States in 1911. Ghadiali was a scientist and health educator and an early advocate of the vegetarian lifestyle. He educated his son on the value of a vegetarian diet from the time he was a small child. The boy was home-schooled by both parents.When Dinshah was 23, out of curiosity, he visited a slaughterhouse on Front Street in Philadel-phia. His wife, Freya Smith Dinshah, later recalled that the experience changed his life forever. In 1956 Dinshah read the influential book Why Kill for Food? by Geoffrey L. Rudd, published by the Vegetarian Society in England. Dinshah became an advocate of vegetarianism and sold copies of the book via clas-sified ads. After reading literature from the Vegan Society in England, Dinshah stopped consuming dairy products and refused to wear leather. In 1957, he became a vegan, restricting himself to fruits, veg-etables, salads, legumes, and nuts.Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society in 1960 and served as its president for 40 years. His efforts contributed to the steady growth of veganism throughout North America. Individuals seeking knowledge on veganism were welcome to stay at his home as long as a month to learn the ethics of veganism and ways to maintain a healthy diet. In the mid-1970s, the society purchased an office building in Malaga, New Jersey, and expanded its services.Dinshah rooted the American Vegan Society in the doctrine of AHIMSA, a Sanskrit concept mean-ing no killing, no injury, and no harm, which was central to the work of both Mohandas Karam-chand GANDHI and JAINISM. Dinshah did not view veganism as a mere dietary choice, but rather as an ethical responsibility to all living creatures. He taught the principles of ahimsa through an ana-gram: (1) abstinence from animal products; (2) harmlessness with reverence for life; (3) integrity of thought and deed; (4) mastery over oneself; (5) service to humanity, nature, and creation; (6) advancement of understanding and truth.Dinshah was an accomplished orator and writer. He gave lectures and talks around the world on veganism and the mistreatment of animals. In 1975 he helped organize the World Vegetarian Congress at the University of Maine. He authored and self-published several books and was also chief editor of the American Vegan Society’s periodical Ahimsa, which is now called American Vegan. He died on June 8, 2000.Further reading: Freya Dinshah, The Vegan Kitchen (Malaga, N.J.: American Vegan Society, 1987); Jay H. Dinshah, Out of the Jungle (Malaga, N.J.: American Vegan Society, 1968); ———, Song of India (Surrey, England: Vegan Society, 1973); ———, Steps in Vege-tarianism (Malaga, N.J.: American Vegan Society, 1993); William Harris and Freya Dinshah, Veganism: Getting Started (Malaga, N.J.: American Vegan Society, 1998).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.