Dolly Vyas-Ahuja is making a documentary film. Why? Because she can never forget the evening of April 16, 2014. She had just returned from walking the dog and was surfing the net for a recipe when she heard the speech that caused an awakening. In “The Best Speech Ever” (graphic content warning!) by Gary Yourofsky, she heard about the cruelty that animals are subjected to in the process of becoming our food. Recalling the day, she says it hurt her “so deep down to her core” that she had a breakdown on the kitchen floor. She became a vegan overnight, “no longer willing to ingest anxiety, grief, and torture in her body.”
This was just the beginning in Dolly’s journey to veganism. Determined to become a voice for animals, she began speaking at temples, global conferences and radio talk shows to create awareness about the cruelty of animal agriculture and the dairy industry, as well as its impact on animal rights, personal health and the environment. Just like her grandfather, a freedom fighter who marched alongside Gandhi to liberate India from British rule, she strove for animal freedom and liberation. Although she was born into a Gandhian family that believed in ahimsa, she says, she did not realize its true meaning until her awakening five years ago.
Dolly found several receptive takers for her message of non-violence. She was invited by Urvashi Jain, the President of the Jain Society of Houston, to speak to the members of the temple. Several attendees showed an interest and after her talk, the temple stopped serving milk to the Sunday school children and began using plant-based milk for tea. Ghee was substituted with coconut oil for lighting divas at the temple and Urvashi became a vegan.
Dolly, who is based in Houston, is currently working on “The Land of Ahimsa” a documentary that seeks to inspire and encourage India to adopt a vegan lifestyle. India is the land of ahimsa, which means non-violence to all living beings. The mission of this documentary is to convince people to bring ahimsa back into their daily lives by avoiding the use of dairy, honey, silk, eggs, leather and meat.
The film touches Dolly’s transformation to veganism, the vegan movement in India and covers activists, plant-based doctors, sanctuaries, athletes and vegan businesses. Imagine, she says, if one-billion people led a compassionate, vegan lifestyle. The impact would reverberate through the entire world. The film is directed by award winning Bollywood director Aryeman Ramsey.
Born in a vegetarian Gujarati family, Dolly says she got her first taste of meat in school. At 13, she visited her grandfather in Rajkot, who asked her what ahimsa meant and if they ate meat. She now understands why he was asking her those questions. He was trying to teach her the true meaning of Ahimsa and choosing peace over violence.
Gandhi once said, “The moral fibre of a nation can be judged by the treatment of its animals.” Like Gandhi and her grandfather, Dolly has a dream that India will rise to the true meaning of non-violence, choosing justice over habit and creating a new divine imprint.
Dolly has her own YouTube Channel – Dolly’s Universe of Ahimsa. Her GoFundme Page Link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/tek5gs-the-land-of-ahimsa
This article was edited by India Currents Culture and Media Editor, Geetika Pathania Jain.