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
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
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.