Anne Dinshah, Powerful Vegan Messages


anne-dinshahAnne Dinshah, Powerful Vegan Messages. Anne Dinshah coauthored the book Powerful Vegan Messages with her late father, American Vegan Society founder H. Jay Dinshah. Jay spearheaded the modern vegan movement in America influencing many people with his message of dynamic harmlessness. Today Anne brings the message to a new generation with a gentle, entertaining way of communicating in her own style. She is also the author of Dating Vegans.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’re listening to It’s All About Food, here on July 22nd 2014, and I thought day here in New York. Really nice. I’m really starting to appreciate the heat. I know some people can’t handle the heat, and I’ve been in that situation from time to time, but I’m handling the heat a lot better these days and I’m happy about that. There’s something very cleansing. I think when we’re in the heat I’d like to sit on my terrace in the morning and just sweat. It feels great. It feels really cleansing and I like to think it’s good for you as long as you keep hydrating, right? We have to keep hydrating and keep that water in and because we’re losing a lot, so if you’re thinking you’re not feeling exactly right have a drink of water, a drink of clean water. In fact, I could use a little right now and I don’t… Practice what you preach, Caryn. Well, let’s bring on my first guest, we’ve got a few guests on the show today. It’s going to be a very interesting and varied program, I’m looking forward to it. My first guest is Anne Dinshah and she has a new book, Powerful Vegan Messages. She co-authored the book with her late father, American Vegan Society founder H. Jay Dinshah. Now, Jay spearheaded the modern vegan movement in America, influencing many people with his message of dynamic harmlessness today and brings the message to a new generation with a gentle, entertaining way of communicating in her own style. She’s also the author of Dating Vegans. We had her on the show to talk about that book a while ago. Hi Anne, welcome to It’s All About Food.

Anne Dinshah: Hi Caryn, I had to drink a water right before we start our conversation.

Caryn Hartglass: You’re smarter than me. I’ve got a head of kale here I could chomp on, but I forgot to bring water into the studio, but I think I am okay. Anyway, how are you, how’s Clint, how’s your mom?

Anne Dinshah: I’m great, everybody is doing well. Clint and I just played a little tennis outside in the yard before it was time to come in and talk with you.

Caryn Hartglass: And how old is he now?

Anne Dinshah: He’s 3 and a half.

Caryn Hartglass: You know I don’t believe that he just three, he just looks and sounds so beyond his years.

Anne Dinshah: He is. He really does a lot with helping me and people don’t believe how much he really inspires me, comes up with some of the most witty amazing things that I know someone that is, just the thing that I taught him, but he puts it in his own words, and he’ll come up with things, like why we shouldn’t eat animals, because the animals deserve to have fun, animals want to do fun things. And that’s not quite the way that I phrased it to him, but he just put it so simply that he is a big reason why I had to work with my dad, old writing and repackage them for days because I think people really are receptive to veganism and they just need to hear from some different voices.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I want to say that many of us who knew your father are so grateful to him and you can tell by some of the stories and writings in this book, you had other people submit essays and stories about your dad and he touches many of us and it was a huge shock. I’ll never forget it in 2000 when he passed. I’m sure it was a great shock to you and your family, but the vegan world was profoundly moved and saddened, but his work lives on and it lives on in you and I’m grateful for that.

Anne Dinshah: Thank you, thank you. It’s one of the things that I think we can all learn from. There were so many people that came forward with stories found in the past fourteen years that I don’t know if they would have shared their stories with me yet, if my dad was still here, unfortunately, but because somebody’s gone then people really want to remember and they want to share; help get in touch with his life and message and you know, when enough time has passed, I felt that it was right and bring forward his writing again and have a better tribute to him so the book ‘s officer tells his biography and along the way we make everything applicable to today’s world and bring out to date. So it was a lot of fun, a lot more than I thought it would be. I thought “I don’t get ten people want to write stories”, but I have to stop when I had over forty stories. But it’s been wonderful listening to how everybody’s been not just inspired to become vegan but there’s so many people who really do great advocacy work, spreading the vegan message informing people in gentle ways and, so that’s really what I wanted to get across is the ripple effect of our actions, not just for my dad, but all these other people who are now doing such good work and how they are regular people like you and me and they decided that this was what they need to learn about and they made a commitment to learning about it and came up with ways to make changes.

Caryn Hartglass: Now there are… I want to say this: there are many, many more organizations all over the world right now that are promoting a similar message to your organization and then putting different spins on them and I found that in activism even when the message is peace and compassion would get a lot of anger and would get a lot of judgment and I never got that from the American being in society. There was always this very loving, peaceful calm, quiet character. I know your mom Freya has it and I’m sure your dad was, the part that in his writings definitely have it. That’s very unique and very special.

Anne Dinshah: Thank you. We would like to thank the [] organization with the name America Vegan Society and we want to be very inclusive of people, very welcoming of people and as far as having other organizations promoting veganism. I think that’s great. You often need to hear about things from three different sources before you believe things, and so if you hear about it from often you hear about it from someone else. That’s terrific. We want everybody to learn about veganism in whatever way they can. My dad was beginning to promote it in his country; they really don’t love everyone going around telling about veganism and he was considered a prank and, he said “Hey, you need a prank to get things started”, and he was okay with that. I’m really the girl next door. I would not have been comfortable in a prank. I just enjoy hanging out with my friends and being a normal citizen, and oh yeah, I happen to be vegan. So do you want to come over for dinner, frankly there are a lot of simple ways that people can do different things. I encouraged people to get out there looking to do three things. If you’re already vegan do three things to encourage other people. And if you’re not vegan but if you’re curious about it then learn about it in three different ways. Whether you’re reading a book or going on an adventure, listening to a show, whatever it is, get three really good sources of this information.

Caryn Hartglass: What is dynamic harmlessness? It sounds really good.

Anne Dinshah: Dynamic harmlessness was the way that my dad explained himself. It is a Sanskrit word that means non-harming but he felt that really doesn’t say enough because you need to go and do the least harm and the most good with your actions. So if you sit in a cave and do absolutely nothing you might be practicing but you’re really benefiting the world. So my dad was very inspired by people like Gandhi, who really advocated to go out and do some good to the world so quickly in a nut shell, dynamic harmlessness is the faith my dad promoted that means do the least harm and the most good.

Caryn Hartglass: Now in this book you have this fun thing in the beginning and the end where you let us listen in. It was written, of course, but it felt like we were there through conversation you’re having with the Robbins family, the Campbell family, the [] family and all your four families are really the new dynasty of the plant-based movement and it’s so lovely to see it continuing through the generations that this event really happened?

Anne Dinshah: It’s based on actual interviews. I wish we all had time to come together and do things.

Caryn Hartglass: I want to be there at the party.

Anne Dinshah: That’s the point, I want the readers to be there, no one should feel like you’re there, but it is actual interview, actual conversation and we all had a great time writing it together and so what we really wanted to get across is it does take many different voices promoting a common message and our common message is: you don’t have to eat animal; you can eat plants and it’s better for your health. It’s better for the environment; it is better for the animals and so three families all have very different ways of presenting pretty similar material. We’re not going to agree on every tiny thing, but that’s okay. The fact that we can all sit in a virtual room together and enjoy a great dinner and talk about how we need to continue to encourage and support each other and that was the thing we’re trying to accomplish. As for me, that was the part that was very important because I really wrestle with my role of how to continue what my parents is guarded and these people just need it very crystal clear to me. Look, we need to be going to hang out with them and know them and it is just a truly wonderful experience.

Caryn Hartglass: Sorry about that, I just got unplugged. And now I’m plugged again. What I wanted to talk a little bit more about is common ground, so you were talking about how you did not have to agree with everybody on… and with the Robinson, the Campbell, the [], but you do agree on many, many things, and that’s where we need to focus even with people who completely disagree with what we think and I’m going to beginning into that. The next part of the program, but common ground is really important because I do believe that all of us want the same things, clean air, clean water, nutritious food for families and we need to focus on those things and then find ways to optimize those simple things that we want and need.

Anne Dinshah: Powerful vegan messages definitely encourages people to find common ground and find something that you like doing with someone now, before you try and share with them a vegan meal and so we try to get a lot of ideas from all different people of how you can gently do some vegan advocacy and you’re not going to win anybody over by hitting them over the head with the thought. You know, talking with them a little bit. And delicious food. It’s all about food right? But just talk with them a little bit and share with them the things that work for you and that is part of why, my voice come through a little bit because my dad was not the one who would have a dinner party at hand, but he’d put on a confront and have hundreds of people and share a dinner with them. I’m more of a type who would reach up to my friends and throw it in her party, and that’s something that people response really warmly to, especially if I ask them ahead of time what their favorite foods are and I try to make it something that they would definitely enjoy, not be fearful of the fun only vegan I know.

Caryn Hartglass: The think that was really important about the American Vegan Society back in the sixties when it was founded – there was no Internet and what was amazing reading about it and I know I experience myself was that we, those of us who were coming to this realization about where our food came from and where we wanted our food to come from and what we didn’t want to happen. We found each other. We found all the like-minded people, not only in this country but around the world and your father was so important in making that happen and it is so easy to feel alone and you know, sometimes when you have ideas that nobody else is thinking about, you question, am I crazy. And then you find other people who feel the same way and there’s that strength in numbers. I know your father was so important in making that happen pre Internet. It just blows my mind how we do anything before the Internet, before smart phones.

Anne Dinshah: That was the part that I really didn’t know so much about him. I know about his writings. I had seen the book in Ghana with him as you know, when he traveled around doing lectures, words,… I visited places and heard him speak. So I knew about that aspect of his life and his work but what I really didn’t know is how much you reach what he encouraged people, amazing people who shared their stories like Victoria Moran who said that he never gave up on her and now look at the amazing things in the amazing books that she does.

Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.

Anne Dinshah: Vegan academy. If my dad would have given up on someone like that, she might not be accomplishing the things that she does today and I was amazed how many people came forward with the kind of stories. That was really the most important thing that he did was that he was always very welcoming to people wherever they were along the vegan journey. Whether they were vegan yet or not it did not matter. As long as they were interested, he was interested in them.

Caryn Hartglass: Now another thing about the American Vegan Society is you’re clearly not profit motivated and I’m a life member and I am happily a life member and I only became a life member, because it was affordable. There are many life memberships that are not very affordable for regular people, and I don’t know, I don’t know how you have managed all this time because everything is very reasonable. You have an incredible library of like every book ever written on the subject.

Anne Dinshah: Thank you. We do rely a lot on people ‘s generous donations and we’re working on revamping our website so it is a little more user-friendly but you can go to to get a good idea the type of information that we have available and also a few organizations that you can call and actually get a real person, frequently I’m not going to promise all the time, but we definitely have always had a lot of interaction with the people directly who want information.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay so what’s next for the American Vegan Society?

Anne Dinshah: Next we’re launching a new campaign “Vegan generations to the third power” which has sprung out of the “Powerful Vegan Messages” and I mentioned a little bit about it earlier, but the campaign is encouraging everybody. It doesn’t matter what your age is to be part of the vegan generation and we encourage people to do three actions. So if you are curious about veganism, learn about it from three sources, and if you’re already vegan find three good ways to reach out to people like lend them the vegan books that are on your shelf, invite them to dinner, take them shopping, help them understand what vegan things are on the grocery shelves and just make it easier for people to feel a very welcoming ambassador. So we’re about to launch that as our new campaign and we’re going to be, we’ve got all sources of way on our website coming up that we can make it easier for people to become involved, you don’t have to do a lot if you are not the person who’s going to get on stage or read a book and has radiation. We try to get other ways that people can get involved,

Caryn Hartglass: You know, taking somebody to a grocery store, a guided shopping tour is such a great thing to do and people don’t even probably realize it, but most people when they go into a supermarket they go to specific places to get the food they’re familiar with; when I’m in a grocery store, I don’t even go down most aisles because there is absolutely nothing that I want, in most aisles of the grocery store, but to point out all kinds of nutritious, healthy foods that people either don’t see or aren’t aware of, don’t know what to do with. If I spend more than five minutes in a grocery store, I’m always talking to somebody. I always hear a question, and I’m always ready with the answer, most of the time the answer is kale, but guided shopping tours are great so I’m glad you are encouraging that.

Anne Dinshah: Yeah, and they can be fun too. I like to make games out of it like when I go shopping with Clint, and I ask him if he can find a certain vegetable first before I can, and if I go shopping with someone who can read already I asked them to pick out a product, because a lot of people need a transition food from the packaged vegan products that looked a bit more like the meat or the cheese and we’ll turn around the package read it to see whether it is vegan, and nowadays you can cheat on the game because so many of them are marked vegan. Back in the old days you would have to turn around the label and read through it so you could tell whether it was vegan or not, so I try to make it fun and enjoyable, I need some for myself, I’ve always been a vegan shopper, but I tried to find one thing that is new and exciting that I haven’t tried before so I think I’m encouraging the vegan companies to keep making these products then I have an opinion that I can share with other people who are really looking for this transition food that are vegan, but might be packaged to look like something else.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad to have you out there and I wish you all the best with “Powerful Vegan Messages” and for continuing the American Vegan Society legacy. I look forward to seeing you at the next veggie pride parade.

Anne Dinshah: Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: And take care. Bye bye.


Transcribed by Michele Le, 7/25/2014


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