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  History

The American Vegan Society was founded February 1960, in Malaga New Jersey.

Throughout recorded history there have been individuals and groups teaching the complete non-use of animal-source food and clothing. The practice of this lifestyle attained varying degrees of success, and some failures.

Veganism was defined and the first Vegan Society formed in 1944 in England. This society was to become the inspiration for others to follow.

In the U.S., Dr. Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz formed a Vegan Society in California (1948 to 1960). When H. Jay Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society (1960), it became a dynamic force spreading the vegan message at a propitious time in world history.

An early non-dairy vegetarian cookbook published in the U.S. was Vegetarian Cookery by Dr. Pietro Rotondi (Los Angeles California 1942; it used some honey, thus not quite vegan). Completely vegan books were The Gar Shu Cookbook by Sanctilian (Upland Trails Press, Coolidge Arizona 1957), Rx Recipes by Doris Rosenvold RN and Lloyd Rosenvold MD (Hope Publications, Hope Idaho 1963).

. Highlights of the American Vegan Society's early endeavors were: a Coast to Coast Crusade across the U.S. and into Canada 1961, North Atlantic Lecture Tour (Iceland, Britain, Europe) 1965, Round the World Lecture Tour 1967 and 1968.

The society's magazine was published under the title Ahimsa 1960 to 2000. In 2001 the name was changed to American Vegan and is quarterly. Of books published by AVS, the best known are Out of the Jungle by H. Jay Dinshah (1967, 1995), Here's Harmlessness edited by Jay Dinshah (1964, 1993), The Vegan Kitchen by Freya Dinshah (1965, 1997), Compassion: the Ultimate Ethic by Victoria Moran (1981, 1997), Hearty Healthy Helpings by Anne Dinshah (1999). Dates given are of the first, and most recent editions.

American Vegan Society Annual Conventions have been held in New Jersey and other states, including New York, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington. . In 1995 AVS hosted the 8th International Vegan Festival in San Diego California. Local and regional vegetarian societies have shared responsibilities for some of these events. These conventions have provided a valuable forum. Since 1989 videos of convention proceedings have taken the vegan message into living rooms across the USA, and a few years later, around the world. Since 1969 AVS has held educational programs, including cooking classes, at its Malaga New Jersey headquarters.

The American Vegan Society has been and is glad to work with other organizations with similar goals. Among these are the North American Vegetarian Society (host) and International Vegetarian Union (sponsor) for the 23rd World Vegetarian Congress (1975), Orono Maine. AVS assists others with their book publishing and distribution.

The present day vegan community in the U.S. involves many individuals and organizations. Besides the American Vegan Society, there are Gentle World, Vegan Outreach, Vegan Action, and vegan.com. A vegan diet is promoted by other organizations such as Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the National Health Association (formerly American Natural Hygiene Society), Book Publishing (Tennessee), and Institute for Plant Based Nutrition.

Increasingly, animal rights organizations, anti-vivisection societies, and farm animal reform and rescue groups have advocated the compassionate vegan lifestyle.

Vegetarian Resource Group has provided an abundance of vegan information since the mid 1980s. Marcia Pearson brought "Fashion with Compassion" shows to international attention. Michael Klaper, MD was an early current practitioner finding the values of vegan lifestyle. William Harris, MD presented clear and compelling evidence of the superiority of vegan diet. John Robbins, Howard Lyman and EarthSave have injected a note of urgency and marshaled facts demonstrating the folly of animal agriculture. Joanne Stepaniak is a contemporary teacher of compassion, and a prolific writer including many cookbooks.

Of strategic importance were health studies done on vegans in England, and in the U.S. on vegans within the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and at The Farm, Summertown Tennessee. They proved the adequacy and advantages of the diet that, combined with growth of nutritional knowledge, helped others to avoid potential pitfalls. Very helpful also were the experiences of U.S. followers of Dr. Herbert M. Shelton and others in their rediscovery of ancient truths about human health.

A history of veganism would not be complete without commenting on the health food stores (many run by Seventh Day Adventists) that have sustained vegans with foods outside the mainstream through the years. We also remark on the increasing number of food products now available that have added the convenience factor needed to persuade increasing numbers of people to go vegan.

 
 
     
 
Since 1960 - American Vegan Society - 56 Dinshah Lane, P.O. Box 369, Malaga NJ 08328
Phone: 856-694-2887   Fax: 856-694-2288

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