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 £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 £5 notes (and the £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.
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 publicly expressed concerns about this.
On Wednesday 8th February 2017, 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 Thread Needle Street, Central London, to discuss the issue of the new £5 note, which contains small traces of animal derived products (tallow).
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. 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 £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. To Hindus, the Cow is a symbol of grace and abundance and veneration of the cow instils the virtues of gentleness, receptivity and connection with nature. As a consequence of not allowing the £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.
Whilst initially appreciating and agreeing to address the concerns of the Hindu Community in the UK, Victoria Cleland, Chief Cashier, Director of Notes at Bank of England, later wrote to HCUK refusing to withdraw the £5-notes.
The full statement can be found on the Bank’s website here:
Following the Bank of England’s refusal, Radha Mohan Das Bhakti Vedanta Manor Communications Secretary issued the following statement.
“We are both shocked and saddened to receive news that the Bank of England have already printed ten pound notes containing tallow. As a temple community our ethos is nonviolence. As such we stopped accepting the new five pound notes which in turn impacted the donations we depend on. Now with news of the ten pound note we will have to review our stance on banning tallow notes. We now find ourselves having to choose between compromising our core religious principles and spiritual values or suffering significant financial losses. We fail to see how in this day and age a public service provider could allow this to not only continue but to become significantly more harmful.
We do welcome the bank’s planned consultation and understand that the costs of correcting the oversight are deemed unacceptable. Currency must be acceptable to all, therefore there is no question, it must be free from animal products.”