In Britain, the Bank of England has made a strong admission. The new five pound notes in circulation contains traces of beef tallow. It issued a statement saying,“We can confirm that the polymer pellet from which the base substrate is made contains a trace of a substance known as tallow.”
It had responded to a concern tweeted by a customer:
@bankofengland Hello. I’ve heard the new £5 has tallow in it which is derived from animal fat. Can you please let me know if this is correct
— Jools (@Jools_Orca) November 28, 2016
The Bank of England replied saying:
Hi @Jools_Orca there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pallets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes
— Bank of England (@bankofengland) November 28, 2016
As the news made headlines, British Hindu leaders and temple priests voiced surprise and outrage. Concerns were raised that while introducing the polymer currency why did the central bank fail to mention this crucial detail.
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The new polymer note is plastic currency, which means that it doesn’t tear, it’s waterproof and it resists dirt. But it contains animal fat. Polymer is made of tallow, a by-product of animal waste derived from beef or mutton. It’s the same polymer used in plastic bags to avoid friction, to make them anti-static and ensure that the bags don’t stick to each other. That is the same reason why the new plastic five pound notes have minute amounts of tallow in them.
However, the Hindu temples in Britain have refused to be associated with any product or by-product of animals. It has asked worshippers not to use the five pound notes for donations, while the British Hindu leaders will discuss the possible withdrawal of these notes from circulation.
For the record, many among Hindus follow the ritual of animal sacrifice to please the gods. In fact, stories relating to animal sacrifice have even been present in the Indian mythology. The famous Dashashwamedh ghat in Varanasi, for example, got its name from the belief that Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses there.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of things, then there are several products available in the market that contain animal fat in them. Lipsticks are known to contain animal fat, so do soaps and candles. If we extrapolate the priests’ reasoning, then all Hindu women should not visit a temple or go elsewhere wearing makeup. The tyres of bicycles contain stearic acid, which is made using animal fat. Certainly Hindus then should not bike their way to a temple. Bone char is used to process sugar. PETA informs on its website that bone char is made using cattle bones from countries like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is then supplied to other countries. It writes, “Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve its desirable white color.” In effect then, Hindus in Britain and elsewhere should abstain from consuming sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for putting the brakes on cruelty against animals. Before anything else however, let’s discourage animal sacrifices, not for religious purposes, but for humane reasons.