Vegans across the United Kingdom are currently up in arms over the otherwise-well-received £5 currency note that was released in September, after the Bank of England admitted on Twitter that traces of animal fat were used in the making of the note. However, concerns are being raised that the use of fat derived from beef could also hurt religious sentiments.
The new £5 note, also known as a fiver, was released in September this year and has received a generally positive response because of its features. For starters, it is made of polymer, so does not tear or soil easily. That also makes it easy to recycle. It also has more security features built into it.
However, rumours soon surfaced that it contains animal fat — more specifically, tallow, which is a rendered form of fat from mutton or beef.
Someone actually decided to ask the Bank of England, which replied on Twitter: "There is a trace of tallow in the polymer pallets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes."
The admission kicked up a storm almost immediately, with vegans and vegetarians in the UK swearing off the new currency. Now, there is even an online petition on social activism platform Change.org that is batting against this new currency note.
It says: "The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans and vegetarians in the UK. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use." At the time of the writing this report, there were more than 14,000 signatures on the petition.
Religious sentiments at stake
As the news spreads through social media via vegan and vegetarian channels, there are fears that some religious minorities in the UK could also be hurt by this change to the fiver. One big group that could take affront are Hindus, who — even when they are not purely vegetarian — do not touch beef because they consider cows holy.
Given that the tallow used in the new £5 notes may have come from beef, it remains to be seen how the Hindu population — of whom there are 817,000, or roughly 1.5 percent of the population in England and Wales, according to the 2011 census — react to this news.