The Bank of England invited members of the Hindu Council UK for a meeting over concerns that the new 5 pound polymer currency note contains traces of beef tallow — an issue that has led to anger among vegans, Hindus, Sikhs and other communities in Britain.
The Hindu Council UK representatives – Chairman Umesh C. Sharma JP, Director of Interfaith Relations, Anil Bhanot OBE and Director of Hindu Temple Engagement, Arun Thakur were personally invited to a meeting with The Chief Cashier of the Bank of England-Victoria Cleland at its headquarters in Threadneedle Street on February 8.
In late November 2016, the Bank of England announced that it had been informed that small traces of animal-derived products were used by a supplier in the manufacture of the new polymer pound 5 notes. Tallow is a hard, fatty substance made from rendered animal fat. It is commonly used to make soap and candle. The new polymer note uses beef tallow made from suet, which is hard fat found around the animal’s kidneys, stomach and other organs. The new pound 5 notes (and the pound 10 notes) contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK, the Hindu Council UK said in a statement.
As soon as this announcement was made, the Hindu Council UK together with a number of individuals and representatives of certain communities and organisations had publically expressed concerns about this.
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It said over the last couple of months, the Hindu Council UK has been in communication with the Bank of England and raised the concerns of the Hindu Community, Hindu Temples and Hindu Organisations in the UK over the issue. It said the Bank of England assured that they were treating those concerns with the utmost seriousness and wanted to understand better what impact the use of small traces of animal-derived products in polymer banknotes may have within the community before making any further statement on the issue.
The Hindu Council UK Representatives had a full and frank discussion with Victoria Cleland and highlighted that many Hindus were concerned due to the animal-derived products in the new notes, because one of the key virtues in the Hindu faith is Ahimsa – which is the practice of non violence; avoiding harming any living thing, and also avoid the desire to harm any living thing, including protecting animals, which symbolise many of our most important deities, it said in a statement.
The Hindu Council UK representatives informed the Bank of England that it had received many calls from various Temples across the UK who had banned the use of the new pound 5 note as donations and offering to deities within the sanctuary of the temple environment. Hindus respect, honour and have a special affection for the cow as it represents life and the sustenance of life, the symbol of the earth, the ever giving, undemanding provider for mankind. As a consequence of not allowing the pound 5 notes in the Temple environment, many of the temples had seen a huge decrease in their Temple economy, which relies totally on donations in order to operate, the statement said.
“The Hindu Council UK is pleased that the Bank of England have listened to our concerns and halted the issuing of the new pound 20 notes until a full consultation has been done. In addition, the Bank of England has assured us that they are working with polymer suppliers to investigate alternatives (including some that are plant-based) for the future,” it said.
The Bank of England said that it will not withdraw the current pound 5 polymer banknotes from circulation and will go ahead with plans to withdraw legal tender status of the pound 5 paper bank notes on May 5, 2017. The Bank will also continue with the proposed launch of the new pound 10 polymer banknotes in September 2017, using the existing polymer substrate.
The new polymer five pound note, which features a portrait of Winston Churchill, is the first of the Bank of England’s notes not to be printed on paper. The new flexible plastic notes are designed to be cleaner, more secure and stronger.
Production of the new pound 10 notes began in August last year and are planned to be released into circulation in September this year. The new pound 10 plastic notes will feature author Jane Austen.