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Why Vegans Are Furious About the UK's New 5-Pound Note

author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
Why Vegans Are Furious About the UK's New 5-Pound Note
The new British money isn’t vegan. Photo Credit: sbhaumik/iStock/Getty Images

If there’s one fact about living a vegan lifestyle, it’s that it can be hard to maintain in our nonvegan world. From having to watch what you eat to carefully evaluating the clothes you purchase, the struggle is real. But did you ever think vegans would have to worry about what money is made out of? Well, now vegans do — at least they do in England.

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With the first revamp to the material in Britain’s five-pound note in 320 years, the new bills now contain tallow — the fat surrounding the organs of beef. While tallow is commonly used in candles and soaps, using it in money has vegans in the U.K. up in arms about inadvertently having to use nonvegan currency.

The Bank of England confirmed the use of tallow on November 28 via Twitter after an inquiry was made by a vegan about the new notes with regard to human-rights considerations.

Twitter has erupted with a storm of protesters who have garnered more than 100,000 signature on a petition to have the bank discontinue the new note. The petition also explains that using tallow in the bank note not only offends vegans and vegetarians, but also goes against the religious belief of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in the U.K.

Business Insider reports that when the news organization reached out to the bank to see if they would change the note, the bank declined to comment further. But the Bank of England did have its reasons for introducing tallow into the bills: to increase the durability of the note, make them waterproof and make them harder to counterfeit.

While this may be a shocking change for vegan Brits, in response to the backlash over the use of animal fat, CNN released an article stating that far more countries than England are using tallow-laden money. In fact, 23 different countries, including Canada and Australia, use the same polymer — so we’ve been exchanging goods for animal-fat-dipped paper all over the world for a while now.

There’s no sign yet that the polymer will be removed from the bills, so if you’re a vegan and in the U.K. (or a bunch of other countries) you might want to entertain the idea of switching over from paper to plastic as much as possible.

What Do YOU Think?

Should England use beef tallow in currency? Would you use currency that is not vegan or vegetarian? Do you think the U.K. should switch back to the old note? Let us know in the comments!

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