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Arthur Ling

C Arthur Ling, 1919-2005

Founding Director of Plamil Foods Ltd, Hon Patron and former President of The Vegan Society

Much has, is, and will be written about Arthur Ling. He was a private man, with many of his other interests overshadowed by his uncompromising dedication to veganism, which to him was his religion, and a religion he would spend a lifetime in promoting.

Arthur had three children Julie, Trevor and Adrian Ling (who now runs Plamil). They have received so many kind letters it confirms that he touched so many lives, and that others gained strength that their beliefs could also be fulfilled. Typical comments about Arthur have been - "he was the sort of person whom people always thought would be around forever", "his integrity was highly respected", "persistent in his views and had strong values".

His life and relationships were shaped by a strong sense of direction, distinct unwaving and uncompromising views on many subjects. It is these attributes that helped him to forge a way for the vegan lifestyle to be recognized in the face of much social unawareness. His views on many subjects were essentially liberal. He was anti-war, egalitarian, and a supporter of "the common man". A lover of the outdoors he was an active Naturist.

In hindsight, Arthur would comment, his whole life, experience and work lead him to a point where he could translate his religion into practical terms. Thus quite literally millions of people, in particular in dietary terms, have been influenced by his work.

Arthur loved Pitman's shorthand, being introduced to in 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 honor 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.

Arthur was not one for social norms, indulging in almost anti-establishment activities with unassuming relish from an early age. To his parent's horror, he became a vegan at the age of seven (in 1926 veganism was completely unheard of) when he witnessed a fish being killed at the seaside. 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. An accountant by profession Arthur was involved in his first commercial project in the post war years. A company called Solflower Ltd, based in Wales, was created to produce biodeisel from Sunflowers. Unfortunately this project was 50 years ahead of its time and did not enjoy commercial success.

Arthur is known by most for his work at Plamil and 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.) It produced in 1965 the first widely distributed Soya milk, a true achievement and again far ahead of its time. At retirement age in the 1980's, he continued to work actively for many years, being honored with a number of "lifetime" achievement awards. Whilst still participating in running the company he latterly and gradually dedicated himself more and more to research of the nutritional aspects of the vegan diet, his true love and passion.

Arthur Ling - Vegan Pioneer

A Trust in Arthur's name is being created to furthur his interest in vegan nutrition. For details of the 2008 Arthur Ling Memorial Award click here.

Arthur Ling