The Bank of England just gave a massive dirty middle finger to the millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.
In case you missed it, they just confirmed that there is animal fat – specifically, beef tallow – in the new £5 notes.
You may be forgiven for missing it, to be honest. The new £5 notes have been in circulation for more than two months, and yet the Bank of England only decided to tell us last night.
In a tweet.
A tweet reply, in fact. Because the blatant flouting of so many people’s deeply-held beliefs apparently doesn’t even deserve a tweet in its own right.
Because tallow is often used in the making of household things like candles and soap, vegans, vegetarians, anyone who avoids animal products makes a conscious effort not to buy these candles and soaps.
Where beef is concerned, this also includes Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. Many followers of these religions are vegetarian or vegan anyway, but even those who aren’t tend to avoid beef, as cows hold particular importance.
We go out of our way, every day, to find things that weren’t produced off the back of another animal’s suffering – not just food, but also soap, clothes, bags, household cleaning products… Pretty much everything. It can be exhausting, and I’ve had more than my fair share of undressed salads and plates of chips in particularly unobliging restaurants to know that it’s not always the easiest.
So to find out that our currency, something we genuinely cannot avoid using, contains parts of dead cows is truly galling. It’s a major slap in the face for those of us who have been trying so, so hard to keep murdered animals out of our lives.
People say vegans and vegetarians shove their beliefs down people’s throats. Well, when you choose to avoid animal products, you end up repeatedly having to defend your life choices, deflecting the same terrible ‘jokes’ (no matter how many times you say ‘bacon, LOL’ it’s not funny), and having to act like a ‘good sport’ while people casually belittle your beliefs, and accuse you of being a ‘pushy vegan’ when all you did was order the veggie option with no cheese at dinner.
Growing up as a vegetarian Hindu (who later became vegan), I had other kids shoving their Pepperami in my face because they thought it was funny, my primary school teachers sending me off in tears because I wouldn’t eat fish fingers, and being teased, repeatedly, for eating ‘rabbit food’. When I tried to go vegan at 17, people in my class staged an ‘intervention’ in which they lectured me about how it’s natural to eat animals, and foxes aren’t cute and deserve to be hunted and killed for sport.
And now, of all things, the Bank of bloody England has put dead cows into our money without even bothering to tell us for two whole months.
The absolute hypocrisy of being constantly berated for apparently ‘shoving our beliefs down everyone’s throats’ when we are literally being forced to deal with having the fat of some poor slaughtered animal in our money – our money, for God’s sake – is almost beyond comprehension.
It’s not just the fact that there is, totally unnecessarily, beef in the £5 notes. It’s not even that the Bank of England didn’t bother to tell us about it for a ridiculously long time.
What really stings about this is that it is yet another massive F U to us and everything we care about from an authority that knows we have no option but to put up with it.
Well, people are fighting back. Some are planning to avoid the new notes – asking shopkeepers for the cash in pound coins or higher notes instead, even though it’s a massive inconvenience to everyone. Others are going to avoid cash payments altogether and stick to debit and credit cards.
There’s also a petition on Change.org that, since being set up yesterday evening, has already gathered almost 6,000 signatures.
And for those of you making light of this, cracking unfunny jokes about ‘why don’t we just not put £5 notes in our sandwiches’, ask yourself – would you be so flippant if you found out it was dog fat in those notes?
Didn’t think so.