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Vegetarianism in the News

January 4, 2017 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

UK Citizens Protest Fat Money

It's unusual for someone to refuse money, but that's the case in the United Kingdom when it comes to the new 5-pound note. Why the refusal? Because it violates religious and ethical principles of some of its citizens.

Why is the money causing such consternation? Many UK citizens will answer, "Because it's fat. The 5-pound note that displays a metallic image of Queen Elizabeth on one side and Winston Churchill on the reverse side is made with minute amounts of tallow. Tallow is animal fat.

For vegetarians, vegans, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains handling money that contains animal fat is disgusting! According to the 2011 Census of England, there were 817,000 people who called themselves Hindus. Sikh population was recorded at 732,429. Jains number approximately 25,000. The vegetarian population is about 1.2 million, while vegans are half that number.

Bank of England 5-pound Note Why did the Brits decide to go plastic? To save money, of course. The plastic notes will last 2 1/2 times longer than the paper ones. Anybody could eat the paper notes because they were meat free. According to the New York Times, people did just that. The Bank of England reported, "5,364 bills had to be replaced in 2015 because they had been chewed or eaten." Imagine making a meal out of a 5-pound note!

The notes are not kosher or halal, but Jews and Moslems are not likely to eat them. Simon Round, a spokesperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated, "The five-pound notes wouldn't cause any problem to Jews unless they tried to eat them."

One of the principal reasons for the fat in the note was to eliminate the static that might occur in handling it. But in the process of creating this new currency, the Bank of England created a different kind of static--protests from the groups that were incensed because they won't handle money laced with animal fat. More than 133,000 signed a petition that stated:

"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.

We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use. "

So now we have people calling this plastic money "corpse cash."

Polymer is a clear plastic film that can be printed on like paper. Australia gave up all paper money and went completely plastic in 1996. Canada gave up paper money and followed the Australian example in 2013. The problem for the Bank of England is they have already printed 440 million of these fat notes. The bank stresses that in addition to lasting 2 1/2 times longer, the notes stay cleaner. They'll even survive a visit to the washing machine, if the wash is not too hot. The new notes will even survive a red wine spill. They're almost impossible to tear, but if they're nicked, they could be dismantled.

Some enterprising Brits have discovered the new notes are useful in providing entertainment. One can use the edge of the polymer note like a needle to play old vinyl records. Those at the Bank of England would never have imagined that this plastic money would not only look good, but could also sound good.

Aside from the tallow issue, the 5-pound notes have other problems. Excessive temperatures make them shrink or melt. They are allergic to irons and tumble dryers. They don't like to be folded and prefer to rest flat in a wallet. They also have a tendency to stick together.

Look out, America! Our country may be next to save money with new money--non-fat polymer bills that are non-controversial. We could simply replace the fat with sugar--just like cookie companies did during the low-fat craze!

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