When you go to a shop or café and they hand you a new £5 note as change – how do you feel?
Well firstly lets go back a stage….. did you know that these new £5 notes contain animal fat?
“Tallow” is an inoffensive sounding fluffy word however despite its sweet sounding name the occupation of renderer has appeared in the “dirtiest jobs” and many people don’t even realise what tallow is.
Waste animal tissue from a slaughter house is rendered into a “useable” product. This is tallow. Animal fat from animal tissue.
Well OK only a small amount is used in these new notes – however try telling that to the dead cow who did not just fall over and die happily – it was slaughtered against its will. Or tell that to the vegan who ordered a salad and was served with a chicken leg on the plate too – well it’s just a small amount of an animal.
This goes against the principles of 500,000 vegans, around 4 million vegetarians and around 800,000 Hindus – and surely ethics and religion should be respected?
When Doug Maw found out the new notes contained animal products he took action. He set up a petition that took the world by storm. Media interviews that many can only dream about and that others pay a fortune to try to get – and I know as a PR myself!
So I find myself heading up to London to meet with Victoria Cleland, the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England and one of her managers with Doug to discuss these new £5’s.
With us is the rather amazing Satish K Sharma, the General Secretary of The National Council of Hindu Temples UK. An inspiring, positive speaker who calmly asserts the position of the Hindu community in this regard.
We talk with Victoria and she is keen to hear our points of view.
We talk about how handling the money makes us feel.
We talk about the small vegan business owner who has decided to make a stand and not accept the note. He has lost trade and even received hate messages.
We talk about the fact that there are vegan “alternatives” to everything now. Food, clothing, products and although we don’t live in our perfect vegan world we do the best we can and this is what we are striving towards. When we know something contains an animal product we will avoid it. However we can’t always avoid cash!
And on top of this if we don’t make a stand and make our views known now then ALL notes will follow suit. I do feel we are heading to a cash free society anyway however this is in the future so what about right now?
So, you are handed a new £5 note as change after buying your soyalatte in the local coffee shop.
You now know it contains animal fat.
There is a queue behind you of people in a rush… do you comprise your values and take the note?
Do you make a stand and simply ask for 5 £1 coins?
The person behind you tuts, they are late for their meeting. You are holding up the queue. A young child is getting agitated – he is hungry and bored.
Do you mumble something about being vegan and not wanting animals products in your money when nearly everyone behind you is eating them?
“Oh it’s the fussy vegan!”
You feel anxious, embarrassed…. or maybe not – you feel proud and excited to be spreading a positive vegan message and standing up for the animals despite the stress?
Doug has been inundated with messages since starting his campaign and VeggieVision TV is proud to be supporting this.
From older people who find the note difficult to handle – it’s too slippery. Arthritic sufferers who struggle too. People who get annoyed that the note doesn’t fold and pops out of their purse.
People who have had conflicts at their place of work – they need to handle cash and has expressed their views – to be told its legal currency and they have to take the notes.
Satish tells that as well as an exchange of currency the Hindu community hand cash over as a blessing. However now the new note cannot be accepted in their 400 temples across the UK. They will not touch theses notes. Their blessing feels tainted.
He tells us after the meeting that a cow is sacred to them – part of their family. He has seen a cow cry when there was upset in someone’s family. They have memories, they are very maternal creatures. They mean a great deal to the family – something like having a dog as an animal companion – but more than this. I wonder how the UK would feel if dog fat was used in the note?
Doug, Satish and I were delighted with the response from the Bank of England. They are treating our concerns very seriously. They are now exploring alternatives that do not comprise the security of the note.
The meeting was not rushed and meeting with the actual Chief Cashier shows the extent to how seriously they are taking this. We spent an hour and 15 minutes putting our concerns across and these have all been taken on board.
The media have found this story of great interest and Doug was interviewed for Radio 4, ITV and Sky afterwards and he was pleased to say that we are delighted with the response from the Bank of England and we look forward to a positive outcome.
So what else can we do? Talk about the subject, raise awareness for veganism and of course we hope that the outcome will be positive and the new notes will not go against anyone’s ethical or religious beliefs.