In each issue Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.
In this issue, instead of presenting a 24 Carrot Award, Vegetarians in Paradise presents a 24 Carrot Memorial to a man revered for his noble ideals and treasured by all whose lives he inspired to follow the vegan path. On June 8, 2000 Jay Dinshah, age 66, died of a heart attack near his home in Malaga, New Jersey. Who was this man whose passing has shaken the vegetarian and vegan communities throughout the United States and the world?
For 40 years Jay Dinshah actively fulfilled his role as president of the American Vegan Society which he founded in 1960 at the age of 24. He dedicated his life to bringing awareness to the public of the inhumane treatment of animals and helping to bring respect and compassion to animals as fellow beings who share this planet. His lifelong dream was to see the closing of all slaughterhouses.
From birth he was a lacto vegetarian, but a visit to a slaughterhouse at the impressionable age of 23 changed his life. His interest in vegetarianism sparked his contact with the Vegan Society of England from which he received reading material that led him to dedicate his life to veganism. He founded the American Vegan Society in 1960 at age 26. That same year he married Freya Smith whose lifelong practice had also been vegetarianism.
Together they worked from a home office to publish Ahimsa, the magazine of their new organization, the American Vegan Society. The magazine's philosophy was built on six ideals:
They generously invited people to come into their home to learn about the vegan way of life. Sometimes people stayed with them an entire week and some even stayed up to a month.
Jay was blessed with the gift of leadership, yet remained a humble man who lived his beliefs. Those who knew him referred to him as a pioneer, a man whose steps forged untested ground when he spoke out with unpopular ideas. His concern for animals was so great, he wore clothing made only of cotton or synthetic fabrics and wore shoes of cotton canvas or plastic, shunning goods made from the skins or furs of animals. His diet, too, avoided animal products of any kind, relying on plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
In a 1970 interview with thePhiladelphia Inquirer he expressed his thoughts on veganism explaining that, "A vegan is a vegetarian for strictly ethical reasons, respecting the rights of all living creatures." He continued, "(It's) a philosophy of life, an advanced way of living."
Jay expressed his views passionately, speaking at conventions nationally and internationally, and wrote prolifically. Here's Harmlessness is an anthology which he edited in 1964. His book,Out of the Junglewas published in 1967 andSong of India in 1973. Through the years he continued to contribute articles toAhimsa,writing from the heart.
Words of condolence to his family came from all over the country and even arrived from places like India, Botswana, and England. Those who knew him described him as humble, wise, knowledgeable, self sacrificing, dedicated, inspiring, sincere, passionate about his beliefs, and hard working. He will be missed but not forgotten. Jay Dinshah's work stands as a lasting memorial. Some even believe he is among us and still guiding the vegan ideals that had been his life's work.
His family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Vegan Society, Box 369, Malaga, New Jersey 08328-0908.