Practicing Ahimsa: American Vegan Society

Animals cannot speak up for themselves, so the responsibility falls to compassionate individuals to shed light on the daily cruelties and injustices farmed animals experience. These people often head up organizations to educate and end animal suffering. One such organization is the American Vegan Society.

-H. Jay Dinshah, AVS founderH. Jay Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society (AVS) in 1960 to share veganism with the public. Dinshah, a lifelong vegetarian, committed to a vegan lifestyle after touring a slaughterhouse in 1957. He worked tirelessly to spread education and save as many animals as possible and “vowed to work every day until all the slaughterhouses are closed!”


Dinshah served as president of the American Vegan Society for forty years, spreading the word through veganism and Ahimsa. H. Jay Dinshah lectured in over two dozen countries throughout his life. Some of his lectures are in his book Health Can Be Harmless. He served as editor or author for several books, including Here’s Harmlessness: An Anthology of Ahimsa, Out of the Jungle: The Way of Dynamic Harmlessness, and Powerful Vegan Messages.

“AVS promotes a compassionate, healthful, sustainable lifestyle. Eating an entirely plant-sourced diet, the vegan way of living does not use animals for food, clothing, commodities, sport, or entertainment.”

American Vegan Society Logo


American Vegan Society Programs and Events

The American Vegan Society hosts yearly events to familiarize the public with what it means to be vegan. The AVS special events, holiday parties, and calendar-based promotions share the joys of vegan food with people nationwide.

Vegan Cuisine Month

February is Vegan Cuisine Month. All groups and businesses in the food industry are encouraged to work together to highlight the many vegan food options available.

Vegan Synergy Month

The American Vegan Society believes in synergy, the cooperation between two or more organizations. August is Vegan Synergy Month, a time to celebrate those who partner with AVS to build a better vegan world.

Dynamic Harmlessness Day

November 2, just one day after World Vegan Day, is the birthday of American Vegan Society founder H. Jay Dinshah. It is also a perfect day to begin applying Ahimsa, respecting all living things, and avoiding violence in daily life.

Vegan Cuisine Initiatives

Vegan Cuisine Initiatives is a program designed for independent restaurants. The program guides individual restaurants as they learn about vegan food and ways they can incorporate plant-based foods into their menus.

Speakers Bureau

The AVS Speakers Bureau lists individuals honored by the American Vegan Society for their expertise on specific vegan topics. If you are looking for an expert to speak at your vegan event, this list will help you to select and contact one. Each speaker represents their own individual views and not necessarily those of AVS.

Vegan Information Points (VIPS)

Vegan Information Points (VIPS) consist of groups or individuals in or near your area who are knowledgeable about the vegan lifestyle and willing to share that information with anyone interested. VIPS are independent affiliates of the American Vegan Society. Their opinions are their own and not necessarily those of AVS. VIPS are, however, screened by AVS before their inclusion on the AVS website.

The AVS website provides free information and tools to help everyone, whether they are brand-new vegans, lifelong vegans, or somewhere in between. AVS has everyone covered, from menus, recipes, and vegan news to information from prominent vegan activists, authors, and experts.

“The foundation for veganism is the inner alteration from selfishness to altruism, from ‘What’s in it for me?’ to ‘What can I do for you?” -H. Jay Dinshah, AVS founder

Practicing AHIMSA

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means non-harming and non-killing. It is the principle of applying positive compassion to every aspect of life and toward every living being. It is a crucial virtue in many Indian religions and the basis for the American Vegan Society’s goals. There are six pillars of Ahimsa.


Abstinence from animal products

Harmlessness with reverence for life

Integrity of thought, word, and deed

Mastery over oneself

Service to humanity, nature, and creation

Advancement of understanding and truth

Abstinence from Animal Products

The first pillar of Ahimsa is a conscious decision to refrain from consuming any products that come from or involve animals in any way. This decision could be the food we eat, the products we purchase, or even entertainment. The first step to a peaceful and compassionate life is to do no harm, knowingly or unknowingly.

Harmlessness with Reverence for Life

Human beings are the most powerful beings on the planet. With that distinction comes a great responsibility. We must choose our actions with ethics and benevolence rather than mindlessly inflicting pain and suffering on the creatures we must protect. Our choices should be purposeful and well thought out regarding all living things.

Integrity of Thought, Word, and Deed

Ahimsa works toward truth, kindness, and justice in all we say, do, and think. We are responsible for our thoughts and actions. We should never condone any action we know to be wrong or cruel.

Mastery over Oneself

Human nature can be brutal and selfish. We must master our thoughts and actions to lead a compassionate life and find a higher purpose. This mindset is not possible without a degree of self-control.

Service to Humanity, Nature, and Creation

Our responsibility is to make this world a better, more harmonious place for all creatures to live in. A focus on an unselfish life of service is vital.

Advancement of Understanding and Truth

Knowing right from wrong or our place in this world is not enough. We must be active, lifelong learners. It is essential that we fully understand the knowledge that surrounds us. We should be ever-willing learners who perpetually accept challenges to our current information and make informed decisions regarding changing our beliefs in the face of new information. “We must size it up also against the eternal measure of The Golden Rule, before translating our relative truth into action.”

American Vegan Magazine

The American Vegan Society updates members about everything vegan through American Vegan magazine. Many AVS officers have also penned books such as “Dating Vegans,” “The 4-Ingredient Vegan”, “The Vegan Kitchen,” “Powerful Vegan Messages,” and “Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook.”

Through Ahimsa and veganism, the American Vegan Society reaches thousands of people each year with its message of kindness and compassion. 

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