The new fiver polymer banknote that was launched last September in the UK has been spurned by vegetarians and vegans after it emerged that small amounts of tallow are used to make the polymer substrate.
Whilst the Bank of England has confirmed that only a trace amount of tallow is used in the production of the new five pound banknotes, many vegetarians and vegans are not happy and have taken to social media to voice their concerns. A petition demanding that the Bank ceases using animal products in the production of currency was delivered to the Bank of England in London on 7 December containing over 130 thousand signatures gathered in less than 10 days.
Other opponents include Hindus, who consider cows to be sacred. Some British Hindu leaders have suggested that they would discuss a possible ban on new five pound notes from temples. Jewish leaders, however, are less concerned citing that it would only cause problems to Jews if they ate the animal products, therefore handling the notes is deemed acceptable.
But it remains a very hot topic in Britain, and there have been daily reports regarding the subject. One vegetarian cafe has even stopped accepting the new fiver which has led to a very public debate on the subject, with some praising the decision and others condemning it.
It is inevitable that those who chose not to use or consume items containing animal products have, albeit unwittingly, in fact done just that. Animal products are used in so many products in our daily lives that it becomes almost impossible to avoid them. From having a beer, washing your hair, buying a new car – there are many aspects of life that involve products containing traces of animal products of which we are not aware. But this is something that has been cited by those opposing the new polymer banknotes – choice. Using something without knowing that it contains animal products is one thing, but to use it with that knowledge is quite another. They want the choice and control to use the products they want, or conversely to ignore.
But currency is not something in which the public have a choice, and this is what has caused the biggest upset.
Having broken in the UK media, the issue is now spreading across the globe, with similar groups in several countries including Canada and Australia, also questioning the use of tallow in their polymer banknotes.
A press statement was issued by the Bank of England on 30 November advising that the opinions of those with concerns were being treated with the utmost seriousness, and confirming that the Bank was not aware of the use of tallow in the polymer substrate before the issue came to light. It advised that their polymer supplier is working intensely with its supply chain to overcome the issue.