Other Vegan Views articles
Shopping with Care: Make your Purchasing Selective by Arthur Ling, Vegan Views 63 (Winter 93/94)

In digging out some old files the other day, I came across notice of a meeting I addressed back in 1947 in which I put forward the vegan cause. I have been aware over the succeeding decades of the steady progress of veganism, but feel it could have been advanced more comprehensively by vegans thinking at all times of ways in which to promote our truly humanitarian way of living.

Those of us who lived through the 1950s and 60s know only too well how difficult it was then to be a vegan, and it was in this context that I, together with the help of others, started Plamil Foods back in 1965 and the Company has, through the years, developed more and more vegan fare so that today it is easy to be vegan.

Life in the early days of the company was fraught with all sorts of difficulties, especially in finding stockists to take on vegan fare. So we were thankful for the specialist health food stores who introduced our vegan foods to the public, Consequently, we have over the 29 years of our existence sold exclusively to whole and health food shops.

It has been very gratifying over the years to see more and more vegans start up health and whole food shops and restaurants, but it has been sad for me to see that some vegans do not support them, and instead resort to supermarkets. May I cite just one example. A few years ago, Roger Coates opened an exclusively vegan shop in North Wales, but eventually had to close down; and he told me that if vegans had supported him instead of going (as he knew they did) to the super market, he would have survived. May I make a special plea therefore to all vegans to bear this sad story in mind.

You may be able to get one or two items a penny or two cheaper in the supermarkets solely because they are able to buy in bulk and have the clout to insist on manufacturers giving them very extended credit terms, even up to 6 months. Also supermarkets are able to pay their rent and rates by the profit they make on selling meat and dairy products. Many believe that if supermarkets ceased to deal in factory farmed products, that the factory farms would close up tomorrow.

I would like to see changes with Company Law and with Trading Standards whereby it should be stipulated when a company is acquired and the subsidiary continues to trade under its original name, that the name of the new owners (holding company) should appear in brackets immediately after the name of the subsidiary company on its letter headings, catalogues, adverts, and on all statutory forms. Also that the Trading Standards consider requiring a subsidiary to put in brackets following its name, the name of the holding company (immediately afterwards) on all its products labels. This would enable you, the purchaser, to know when you make a seemingly innocent purchase, where your coppers are in effect going to, because at the moment with the weaknesses to which I have called attention, you the purchaser, do not know whether your coppers are ending up in a meat or dairy owning company.

Without these safeguards in place, all you can do is look through the ingredients section on a label, so do try and establish who are the real owners of a product. Here again you will get more guidance from the health store than the supermarket, although very often the health store is at the mercy of the lack of Company Law and Trading Standards requirements and genuinely bashing its head against a brick wall in endeavouring to trace the real identity of the manufacturer's ownership.

Related Vegan Views articles...
Cross-reference: Animal-Free Products
Cross-reference: Soya Milk (for an interview with Arthur Ling)