Philadelphia: Birthplace of America's vegan movement?

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H. Jay Dinshah with his daughter Anne in the mid-1970s.

It's usually hard to pinpoint exactly where and when some cultural trend gets kicked off, especially those that have been germinating on the fringe for a long time before gaining the attention of the mainstream. The origin point is often fuzzy, diffused in a shroud of secondhand legends.

Not so with veganism in America, whose rise was driven early on by one man - H. Jay Dinshah, the founder, in 1960, of the American Vegan Society. Maybe you heard about veganism a couple months ago, or a few years or even decades ago. This fellow was already touring the country lecturing on vegan principles in 1961! And his "aha moment," when he made up his mind to go vegan, occurred right here in Philadelphia!

I'll explain more about that incident upon the release of an upcoming book called Powerful Vegan Messages. It's an update of Dinshah's 1967 tome Out of the Jungle, enhanced with memories (Dinshah died in 2000) and testimonies from vegan writers, chefs, celebrities and activists whose careers were directly or indirectly inspired by the seminal work of Jay Dinshah.

The updating, enhancing, collating and editing for the project was undertaken by Dinshah's daughter Anne, who's now a writer herself (you may remember the column I did on her book Dating Vegans) and who contributes her own perspective as well, here and there. As she describes the book that she's "co-authoring" with her father, "We encourage readers on their vegan journey to explore ways to promote positive action for a compassionate world."

In short, if you're vegan in Philly, or even if you have a passing interest in the topic, this is a book that belongs on your shelf - and in your hands!

Anne Dinshah notes that "The book is scheduled for a July 2014 release. We are crowdfunding the printing and project promotional costs, and are almost halfway to our goal of raising $10,000. All donations to American Vegan Society are tax-deductible. Donations of $100 or more received before May 5, 2014, will be acknowledged in the book. The book will retail at $14.95 but can be preordered now for only $10."

To donate and/or preorder a copy of Powerful Vegan Messages, visit the American Vegan Society website. And check back here this summer for my review.

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