Bank of England examining meat-free options for new fiver after outcry

The new polymer £5

The supplier of the new plastic £5 notes has been forced into a rethink after vegan and vegetarian campaigners complained that animal fat was used during the note's production process, reports The Guardian.

Tallow is traditionally used to make candles and soaps.

Vegetarians and vegans are protesting against the new plastic £5, triggering a social media storm and an online petition that is closing in on 100,000 signatures.

Vegans and others in the United Kingdom are outraged that the new fiver issued by the Bank of England inexplicably contains trace elements of beef tallow.

As the Washington Post notes, the Bank of England confirmed on Monday that tiny amounts of animal tallow are used in the new money. "Well in this day and age, if we think about it, it is possible to create everything artificially, even diamonds are created artificially, so I can't see any need for creating a £5 note with non-vegetarian material".

In a new statement, the Bank said it did not know about the issue when the contract to produce the note was signed.

"Money doesn't grow on trees - and neither does tallow", said Elisa Allen, director for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) UK.

SAFE spokesperson Stephen Manson said, "this is a good example of how animal products can pop up in places we don't expect them to". Using animals in this way is outdated and unnecessary, not to mention the fact that it is obviously cruel. The tallow is added to the notes to give them anti-static and anti-slip properties. The Bank of England, for example, plans to circulate polymer 10- and 20- pound notes by 2017 and 2020.

Australia was the first to launch plastic notes in 1988, followed by countries including New Zealand and Singapore.

The new United Kingdom £5 banknote, which features Sir Winston Churchill, was issued on September 13 and is the first-ever polymer banknote issued by the Bank of England. The Bank of England began the switch to polymer banknotes because they are supposed to last longer and offer more security features.

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