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As vegan travelers, we usually worry about the foods that we may find in our destination. (Check out my seven tips for vegan travelers to make your travels easier!) The treatment of animals in some places is also a concern for vegans. We avoid animal tourism, zoos, and eating or wearing animal products. Because vegans are against using animals in any shape or form. So what about non-vegan money?
When the Bank of England announced that their new £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes would be made of polymer it was quickly discovered that they would contain tallow, fat from the kidneys of cows and other animals. Vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains were disappointed as this goes against their beliefs. Despite a petition, the Bank of England decided that replacing the non-vegan money with vegan notes would be too costly.
The question for vegans and others who disagree with the use of animal fat is how to deal with non-vegan money. Some vegetarian and vegan businesses, as well as Hindu establishments, have announced they would not allow the non-vegan banknotes. But what should individuals (locals or tourists) do? And which other countries use non-vegan money?
Which Countries Use Non-Vegan Money?
The Bank of England isn’t the only bank that issues non-vegan banknotes. All of the following countries’ banknotes contain tallow:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
Vegan travelers to these countries will be faced with having to use non-vegan money.
The reason the producers add tallow to the bills is to make them anti-static, softer, and less slippery. In comparison with paper notes, the polymer notes last much longer and are less prone to getting dirty.
Alternatives to tallow would be vegetable oils such as palm oil or coconut oil. But the polymer manufacturers for banknotes are not willing to use sustainable oils. So simply using palm or coconut oil in banknotes wouldn’t really better or much more vegan-friendly.
What Can Vegans Do?
The question is now what are vegans to do with non-vegan money? A simple solution would be to only accept coins in the respective country or pay with your debit card only. However, this doesn’t seem to be very practical in every situation so it seems that vegans will, in many situations, have to handle non-vegan money. Let alone the fact that we don’t know for sure if debit or credit cards are entirely vegan either.
But the real question is if we can boycott everything that is not vegan. Because even if we don’t accept non-vegan money, what do we do about the tallow in cell phones, plastic bags, airplane fuel, or bike tires?
At the end of the day, we live in a non-vegan world. We can do our best to reduce our usage of animal products, but if we want to live a regular life we will probably use some non-vegan products. The question is not if that makes an individual a bad vegan. The problem is that our societies still believe that we can use animals as ingredients when it’s convenient. This is the mindset that needs to change. Because then minute details like tallow in banknotes will no longer be an issue.
Capitalism itself is obviously in contradiction to the freedom of humans and animals. So we always have to look at the bigger picture. There certainly is no harm in trying to avoid the use of non-vegan money. But in this society, you will probably not be able to avoid it completely.
Did you know that some banknotes contain animal fat? How do you feel about that?