Bank of England urged to make cruelty-free bank notes

Vegans and vegetarians are calling for the replacement of the new five-pound note which began circulating in early September. The demands come after the Bank of England released a statement earlier this week confirming the notes contain a derivate of animal fat, known as tallow.

Almost 118 thousand people across the United Kingdom have signed a petition requesting the removal of tallow from bank notes. It has gained more than 78,000 supporters over the course of three days.

The Bank of England has since stated that it hadn’t been aware of the issue at the time of signing the contract. The petition considered it to be unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others living in the U.K.

“The fact that they tried to push it past us is pretty bad. We live in a multicultural society; there are many people with different backgrounds and religions where eating certain kinds of meat is simply not acceptable. People were unknowingly using these notes”, says Amy Cohen, a supporter of the petition who has been vegetarian for more than two years. “The public should have been made aware before this happened,” she adds.

Small amounts of tallow are used in the production of the plastic polymer that make the new notes more resistant. According to Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, polymer notes are better for the environment, since they are expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than current paper ones. Fewer notes will need to be printed and less energy will be used. The bank notes will be subsequently recycled into new plastic products.

Professor David Solomon, the pioneer of the polymer bank note, said it’s “stupid” that many vegan and vegetarian Britons are protesting against the banknote since there are only “trivial amounts” of tallow in it.

“No money needs to be made with meat juices. I find it completely ridiculous and unnecessary. Now our currency will contribute to our animals being killed,” says Alex Talbot. Alex became vegan last year, after returning to the UK from an exchange year. “I am used to buying cruelty-free products, but for the past two months I have been purchasing them with notes that contain animal-based substances without even knowing. I guess I will have to use my credit-card from now on.”

While many collectors are offering hundreds of pounds to get hold of the very first batch of the new banknotes, many others have turned to social media to express their discontent:

The Bank of England have recently revealed they are working with their notes’ supply chain to find “potential solutions”. The old five pound notes will go out of circulation next year. The new polymer 10 and 20 pound notes are supposed to be introduced next summer and by 2020, respectively.

Daniela Costa

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