Animal fat is a versatile thing. You can use it to make soap, candles, or even an industrial lubricant. So when the Bank of England decided to introduce a new £5 note made of thin, waterproof plastic, they thought it couldn’t hurt to use a bit of tallow to ensure a smooth feed through ATMs and the like.
“I go to a lot of trouble to avoid animal products,” one user tweeted. “Going to start refusing them.” A spokeswoman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chimed in: “When you consider that beef tallow is a co-product of a cruel and violent industry that kills millions of cows every year and that is one of the largest producers of greenhouse-gas emissions in the world, the decision to use animal fat in the new British five-pound note truly doesn’t make sense.”
A petition on Change.org reads: “The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and others in the U.K.” As of Wednesday morning, it’s nearly a third of the way to its goal of 150,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, the Bank of England seems unfazed. “We’ve reached 200,000 followers!” it tweeted this morning, unaware that most of them are furious vegans. And while there’s nothing it can do to the 440 million new £5 notes they’ve already printed, there is apparently a pure vegetable alternative for future currency, though it would be more costly.
One thing’s for certain, however, and that’s that cotton paper will soon have no place in U.K. currency. Plastic £10 notes will arrive next summer, though £20 notes won’t be available until 2020. No word yet on if they’ll be slathered in bacon drippings.