Why Everyone Should Be Furious About Animal Fat in the New £5 Notes

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition to convince The Bank of England to put a stop to the use of animal fat in the new £5 notes.

Image: Change.org: Remove Tallow from bank notes

The petition states that “The new STG5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK.”

The inventor of the new £5 note, Australian Professor David Solomon, has slammed ‘stupid’ vegans and vegetarians after a row erupted over the notes, claiming that they only contain a “trivial amount” of tallow fat.

Vegans have been branded on twitter in the response to the news as ‘morons’ and ‘whiners’, with some users ‘humorously’ highlighting that the notes are not for consumption, even offering to ease their burden by taking their fivers off of them.

Chas Newkey-Burden of The Guardian is right when commenting that vegans and vegetarians are right to be furious about animal fat in the new £5 notes. Veganism, defined by the Vegan society, is a commitment “to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. Whilst many non-vegans may disagree completely that the animals that they eat have been exploited or treated with cruelty, this controversy is an opportunity to educate people about the reality of the meat industry.

A recent study of 2000 people “found that after learning more about the legal treatment of farmed animals in the UK, almost half would consider cutting back on the meat, eggs and dairy products, and 16 per cent would give up meat and dairy entirely”. In a world where dairy cows need to be pregnant in order to produce milk, it is standard practice to kill all male chicks on an egg farm at a day or two old, piglets tails are amputated and teeth are removed without anaesthesia and most pigs are killed at six months old, despite having a 15 year life expectancy, I urge you to look into where your food comes from, make informed decisions, and respect the values and beliefs of those who choose to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate film Before the Flood, which was released recently, saw DiCaprio travel to every corner of the globe to document the devastating impacts of climate change, questioning humanity’s ability to reverse what has been branded the most catastrophic problem mankind has ever faced. DiCaprio visited Gidon Eshel, a professor of environmental science and physics at Bard College in New York. Eshel was the lead author of a 2014 study which went viral around the globe. It found that beef is about 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock. Eshel comments:

“Of all the reasons for tropical deforestation, the foremost is beef. Beef is one of the most inefficient use of resources on the planet. In the US, 47% of land is used for food production and, of that, the lion’s share is just to grow feed for cattle.”

“The things that we actually eat – fruit, vegetables, nuts – it’s a per cent. Most importantly, cows produce methane. And methane is a powerful greenhouse gas…About 10-12% of total US emissions is due to beef. It’s staggering…Maybe not everyone is ready to eat tofu 24/7. I get that. But even if you just have to have some flesh between your teeth, if you switch to chicken, you will have eliminated 80% of what you emit, depending on where you are coming from.”

The new polymer £5 note uses beef tallow made from suet, a hard fat found around the animal’s kidneys, stomach and other organs. Before you criticise vegans and vegetarians for being outraged at the use of beef tallow in the new £5 note, first of all, ask the question why? If the answer is still not enough, ask yourself weather you care about the welfare of the planet which you call home.

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