Hey, UK Vegans and Vegetarians: If You Don’t Want to Use the £5 Note, Just Use Your Debit Card

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By Elisha Maldonado | 3:33 pm, December 6, 2016

Thanks to the Bank of England, there’s now a fresh new meaning for the phrase “cash cow”—that’s because there’s actually a tiny bit of cow in the new 5-pound note.

To be more precise, the UK’s central bank fessed up to the new bills containing a “trace”—a trace—of tallow in the polymer cash. Tallow is a hard, fatty substance rendered from beef and most often found in other cool things, like candles and soap.

Needless to say, British vegans and vegetarians aren’t chuffed to bits at all. And why would they be? It is 2016, after all, the year of lamenting anything and everything and crying out, “But, wait, that’s the thing I’m most sensitive about!”

Some complaints looked like this:

“Being forced to pay taxes to contribute to animal products is a breach of rights,” Tim Doble, a self-described vegan, posted to Twitter. It’s unclear whose rights he was talking about … his or the cows’. And then: “Shut. up. omnivores. You have no say in this.”

Other tweets looked like this, from @HazallHzr: “We are aware that a lot of things may have animal traces BUT this one could be avoided. Why is that so hard to understand #fivepoundnote.”

Piers Morgan, the king of obnoxiously placing himself on the wrong side of just about every controversy, ripped up a fiver on live television—with his teeth. (Note to Piers: Still doesn’t make you edgy or cool or right.)

The opponents of the new bills are behaving as if cows are being slaughtered solely for the purpose of using a trivial amount of animal fat to make money, rather than, you know, serving their purpose of sustenance.

But logic only goes so far, so just as you’re about to wonder if vegans and vegetarians plan on boycotting spending fivers, this crops up: The owner of a vegan café in Cambridge placed a sign in the shop window saying the café will no longer accept people trying to pay with the new £5 note.

Thinking she would be on the receiving end of heaping mounds of praise, the owner, Sharon Meihland, said she’s now struggling to deal with the “level of vitriol” being sent her way.

“People are finding every kind of criticisms like blowing up our pictures to see what kind of shoes we have. There are so many nasty comments about ‘cheap publicity stung’, It seems unfair,” she said. “When I look at the hundreds of thousands of meatless meals I have served in the last three decades, each one a meal that has not got one piece of animal on it, I would have thought that would be appreciated. But instead, it’s ‘Burn the Witch’ time.”

Welcome to 2016, Sharon.

Anyway, it wouldn’t be absurdist outrage if there weren’t a petition, right? More than 120,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling on the Bank of England to come out with a new vegan-friendly bank note.

The petition reads: “This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.”

So many demands today, so little time to yield to all of them.

The ethical reasons for not consuming meat, or purchasing anything containing animal product, is all well and good as a personal choice. But it’s one thing to refuse all animal products on principle and another to demand that everyone and everything that one comes into contact with is free of it.

And, heck, if you don’t want to use the £5 note, just use your debit card.