World Vegan Day Award for UK Pioneer of Soya Milk and Dairy Free Chocolate

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The Vegan Society have named Arthur Ling, the founder of Plamil, as winner of the lifetime achievement category at the annual World Vegan Day Awards.

Adrian Ling, Arthur’s son and MD of Plamil said, “It’s so sad that my father died before he received this award. He would have been so honoured that his achievements had been recognized by the organisation he’d helped to build. He’d won awards before but this one would have been very special to him.”

Plamil intend to honour the memory of Arthur Ling by carrying on the great tradition of innovation that the company’s ethos is founded on.

They are still a relatively small company, but this allows them the luxury of being very responsive to market trends, and the freedom to make new ideas a reality in a very short space of time.

The new Plamil sugar free, dairy free, vegan chocolate was launched in a matter of months following a conversation with London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston.

To his parent's horror, Arthur Ling became a vegetarian at the age of seven, in 1926 after he witnessed a fish being killed at the seaside and then vegan a few years later in his teens before the word vegan had even been invented. He kept notes of a lecture given in 1938, titled "Health without dairy produce", which influenced him greatly.

Arthur worked at the London Vegetarian Society, and after the Second World War became an active member of the new Vegan Society, created by Donald Watson in late 1944. For a few years Arthur had his own Health Food store, and also served on the council of the National Association of Health Food Stores. (NAHS)

Anything but a typical vegan, Arthur was an accountant. In the post war years he launched a company called Solflower Ltd, based in Wales, created to produce bio-diesel from Sunflowers. Unfortunately this project was 50 years ahead of its time and did not enjoy commercial success despite substantial Government backing.

Arthur is best known for his work at Plamil and at the Vegan Society. From his association with the Vegan Society in the 1950's he joined a group interested in producing a non-dairy milk.

Later Arthur attended a meeting called for by Leslie Cross, who later gave it the name, the Plantmilk Society. After tireless work by Arthur and Leslie this society eventually became Plantmilk Ltd, to which Arthur dedicated himself. (Many years later Plantmilk Ltd changed to Plamil Foods Ltd.)

In 1965 It produced the first widely distributed Soya milk.

When Arthur’s son Adrian joined the company they invested in machinery to make the famous Plamil dairy free chocolate.

Arthur loved Pitman's shorthand, having been introduced to it on a work placement in 1934. His interest perhaps not a coincidence, as in 1898 the first Health food store came into existence was founded by a Henry James Cook, who named his store Pitman Health Food Store in honour of the vegetarian Sir Isaac Pitman the inventor of shorthand.

In 2001 Arthur was awarded the newly created Henry James Cook Award for "his life's work in the development and production of vegan foods especially for the introduction of the first plant-derived vegan milk in the United Kingdom". This was Arthur's most cherished award but the Vegan achievement award from The Vegan Society would have taken pride of place by its side.

Plamil Chairman, Harold Atkinson, picked up the award on Arthur’s behalf at The Vegan Society’s award ceremony in Bristol.

Other winners included, Lush, Redwood Foods, Yaoh, Sam Smiths and Vegan Pub/Bar in Glasgow Mono.

Editors Notes


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Tony Bishop-weston
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