You’re a dedicated vegan who avoids animal ingredients in not just your food, but also your clothing, home furnishings, and health and beauty products. But what do you do if there’s an animal product in something that’s virtually impossible to avoid? This dilemma became very real for vegans in the UK back in September 2016 when the government debuted a redesigned £5 note that contains tallow, an animal fat.
Animal Fat in Paper Money
The new money, which is said to be stronger (water-proof and tear-resistant) and safer for the environment, contains a polymer that is manufactured using an animal product called tallow. Tallow is rendered from the fat of cows or sheep, and has been commonly used in materials like soap and candles for years.
Vegetarians and vegans across the UK, including the many thousands who don’t believe in the use of animal products for religious reasons, like Hindus, started a campaign to urge the government to stop using tallow in the new notes.
Production of Money with Animal Fat
Despite protests demanding the use of plant-based materials in the manufacturing process, the Bank of England has announced that it will continue to produce the non-vegan £5 note. Unfortunately, a newly-designed £10 note is currently in production using the tallow and won’t be cancelled either.
Officials report that the production costs of the £5 and £10 notes are too substantial to make a recall of the money cost-effective. They also say that withdrawing the money already in circulation would create a cash shortage and that many machines like ATMS have already been adapted for the new notes.
One possible bit of good news is that the Bank reports it will consider the use of plant-based oils like palm or coconut when the next denomination of paper money to be redesigned—the 20 pound note—goes into production. They have promised to look into alternative non-animal substances and a decision will come before that note’s release date of 2020.