American Vegan Society

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American Vegan Society
American Vegan Society logo.png
Formation1960; 60 years ago (1960)
FounderH. Jay Dinshah
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal status501(c)(3)
PurposePromotion of veganism
 United States

The American Vegan Society (AVS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes veganism in the United States.

AVS was founded by 1960 by H. Jay Dinshah.[1] The date of the earlier The Vegan Society (UK)'s founding, November 1, is now celebrated annually as World Vegan Day.


  • Operation of a website
  • Publishes American Vegan quarterly magazine, which is sent to members of the society (earlier issues are published on the website)
  • Bookstore (hundreds of new and classic vegan books for sale)
  • Book publishing explaining and supporting veganism (since 1964)
  • Video production; YouTube channels: "Powerful Vegan Messages" and "American Vegan Society"
  • AVS Speakers Bureau (18 popular vegan speakers from throughout the United States)
  • Vegan conferences (the first annual event was held in 1960; bylaws require an annual vegan conference)
  • Cooking classes (conducting vegan cooking classes directly; resource and consultant for others to conduct their own vegan cooking classes for adults, youth, and young children)
  • Gourmet vegan dinners by culinary students, encouraging culinary students to learn vegan cooking by hosting events with only vegan food.
    • American Vegan Society consults with the chef-educators, markets the event, and provides the diners for the event. Currently this is four AVS-coordinated and hosted events each year; the template for these events is used increasingly throughout America.
  • Outreach at public events (vegan books, vegan literature, and speaking about veganism)
  • Other support for direct inquiries, consulting for vegan community outreach
  • Collects, aggregates, and publishes a comprehensive list of vegan-oriented VegFests around the United States.[2]
  • Sponsors Dynamic Harmlessness Day annually on November 2, the birthday of the late H. Jay Dinshah, cofounder of the American Vegan Society.
  • Other events

Prior to broad and widely-accessible search capabilities of the Internet, the American Vegan Society published networking and business resources which supported vegan lifestyle.


In 1960 at age 26 and only 3 years after becoming vegan the late H. Jay Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society. Later that year (August) married the English-born Freya Smith.[3] Freya, whose parents were active in The Vegan Society (of England), contributed to the early growth of the American Vegan Society and is president of the American Vegan Society today. The American Vegan Society is headquartered at Malaga, New Jersey, on a parcel of land which is called "SunCrest", or "the SunCrest Educreational Center." During Dinshah's life, the American Vegan Society was characterized by vegan publishing and outreach, annual vegan conferences, vegan archiving, spiritual inspiration, providing people with an experience of vegan living, vegan food-preparation demonstrations, maintenance of a small veganic garden, and extensive networking. Dinshah served the American Vegan Society as its president and as editor of its publication, Ahimsa magazine (1960–2000). In 2000, Dinshah died of a heart attack at age 66, after a life of promoting veganism

Ahimsa magazine was a quarterly publication that explored compassionate living ("Ahimsa" meaning "dynamic harmlessness") as a philosophy, practical aspects of vegan living, and personal and cultural resources for vegans. Ahimsa included vegan menus and recipes, and news about food. The American Vegan Society continues to publish a quarterly periodical, now titled American Vegan, with the motto "Ahimsa lights the way." The American Vegan Society is now led and managed by its president, Freya Dinshah and advised by the AVS Council of Trustees, all of whom are vegans, and operated by a team of staff and volunteers.

The American Vegan Society "promotes, supports, and explores a compassionate, healthful, and sustainable lifestyle. The diet is plant-sourced, varied, and abundant. For ethical, health, environmental, and other reasons, (vegans) reject all animal products in food, clothing, and commodities, and the exploitation of animals for sport or entertainment. AVS is guided by the doctrines of Ahimsa (non-slaughter, non-violence) and Reverence for Life, and provides community and friendship to those following and learning about this way of living."[4]

Donald Watson in England (and possibly others) coined the term 'vegan' in 1944; it referred to an entirely plant-based diet (with or without spiritual or philosophical or ethical underpinnings).[5] American Vegan Society used the term vegan to mean dynamic harmlessness and successfully developed a broad social base of practicing vegans who committed themselves to that meaning and practice.

Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz formed a vegan society in California (1948 to 1960)[citation needed], and they both joined the American Vegan Society when Dinshah founded it in 1960.[6]

  • 1961 - the American Vegan Society organized and carried out a Coast to Coast Crusade for Veganism across North America, including various parts of Canada and the USA.[citation needed]
  • 1965 - the American Vegan Society organized and carried out North Atlantic Lecture Tour (Iceland, Britain, Europe).[citation needed]
  • 1967 and 1968 - the American Vegan Society organized and carried out an international ("Round the World") Lecture Tour.[7]

American Vegan Society conventions[edit]

Annual Conferences were held since 1960.

Alternate conferences and conventions were held, largely in the northeastern US (New Jersey and New York) but also earlier in California, then later in California (Arcata), Colorado (Denver), Oregon (Portland), and Washington (Olympia), often sharing logistical responsibilities with local and regional vegetarian societies. For a number of years, beginning in 1989, convention proceedings were videotaped.

The Dinshahs conducted weekend workshops, cooking classes, and other educational programs at SunCrest in Malaga, as early as 1969, when their first building (headquarters) was donated.

In 1995, the AVS cohosted the 8th International Vegan Festival in San Diego California, with VUNA (Vegetarian Union of North America) and Vegans International (VI).

Incomplete List of American Vegan Society conventions:[8]

  • AVS Vegan Conferences have been held annually since 1960.

Some of these conferences were:

  • 1960 – Malaga NJ(?)

- Some annual conferences were in California during the 1960s

  • 1969 – Malaga NJ: Educreational Program
  • 1987 –
  • 1989 – Arcata CA (videotaped)
  • 1991 – Denver CO (videotaped)
  • 1993 – Portland OR (videotaped)
  • 1995 – San Diego California: 8th International Vegan Festival, co-hosted with VUNA (Vegetarian Union of North America) and Vegans International (VI)
  • 1996 – ?Johnstown, PA (with the World Vegetarian Congress?)
  • 1997 – Olympia, WA (videotaped)
  • 1998 – Olympia, WA (videotaped)
  • 1999 – Boulder, CO (videotaped)
  • 2000 – Toronto, ON
  • 2001 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 41st Annual Convention (May 26 and 27, 2001)
  • 2002 – Philadelphia, PA – International Scientific Conference on Chinese Plant Based Nutrition and Cuisine – February 15, 16, 17, 2002 (videotaped)
  • 2002 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 42nd Annual Convention (May 26, 2002)
  • 2003 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 43rd Convention of American Vegan Society (May 25, 2003)
  • 2004 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 44th Convention of American Vegan Society (May 30, 2004)
  • 2005 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 45th Convention of American Vegan Society
  • 2006 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 46th Convention of American Vegan Society
  • 2007 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 47th Convention of American Vegan Society
  • 2008 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 48th Anniversary American Vegan Garden Party (May 25, 2008)
  • 2009 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 49th Anniversary American Vegan Garden Party (May 2009)
  • 2010 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 50th Anniversary American Vegan Garden Party (May 30, 2010)
  • 2011 – Malaga, NJ (AVS HQ) – 51st Anniversary American Vegan Garden Party (May 29, 2010)

Additional Workshops[9]

  • 2002 – South Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington DC – Day-Long Workshop with Vesanto Melina, RD, MS
  • 2003 – Kind Café, 724 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia PA – World Vegan Day (November 1, 2003)
  • 2007 – Candle 79 154 E 79TH New York NY – World Vegan Month (November 17, 2007)
  • 2010 – Atlantic Cape Community College – Spring Celebration Dinner (March 23, 2010)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About AVS - Founder". American Vegan Society. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  2. ^ "VegFests in the USA". Archived from the original on 2018-07-17. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  3. ^ American Vegan. 13 (3): 4. Fall 2013.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  4. ^ American Vegan. 13 (3): 33. Fall 2013.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  5. ^ Obituary of Donald Watson, who died at 95, by Karen Dawn, Thursday Dec 8th, 2005 6:50 PM
  6. ^ "History of American Vegan Society". Archived from the original on 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  7. ^ Dinshah, HJ (1973). Song of India.
  8. ^ "AVS Events". Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  9. ^ "AVS Events". Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-08-03.

External links[edit]