The move to a cashless society could accelerate — at least among vegetarians and vegans — after the Bank of England revealed that the new £5 note is made in part from animal fat.
In a reply to a question on Twitter, the Bank admitted that the note contains tallow, a substance made from beef or mutton fat that is also used in the making of soap and candles.
The revelation triggered an angry reaction, with more than 25,000 vegetarians and vegans signing a petition demanding it remove the material from the production process.
Dozens left comments on the petition. Irene Crammond, of Andover, Hampshire, wrote: “There are millions of vegetarians and vegans whose feelings have been totally disregarded. They have no choice but to handle these notes against their beliefs . . . it’s shocking.”
Tina Degner added: “As an environmentalist, I’m disgusted to learn that a product clearly obtained from livestock is used in the production of banknotes.”
But one enterprising Twitter user said: “To all vegans not liking the new £5 notes I’m offering an exchange. I will give you £1 for every new £5.”
The Bank of England will print 440 million of the notes, which are expected to have a lifespan five years longer than paper ones. Next year it plans to issue a polymer £10 note and in 2020 there will be a new polymer £20.