London: Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), an umbrella group of Hindu organisations and temples in the UK, has called on the Bank of England to withdraw the new 5-pound note from circulation because it uses animal fat.
HFB said it was convinced the move was not "malicious" but a result of "ignorance" and called for the notes to be made "Karma-free" at the earliest.
"Saving and sharing wealth (the Goddess of fortune) in currency tainted by unnecessary harm to animals is somewhat of an oxymoron," said Shree Gauridas, spiritual commissioner of HFB and a director of the UK's ISKCON temple.
The group has been encouraging people to sign a petition calling for the withdrawal of the notes as vegans and vegetarians continued to express outrage at the use of tallow, a substance derived from animal fat, which emerged in a Twitter response earlier this week.
A petition titled "Remove tallow from bank notes" has gathered nearly 126,000 signatures. It will be delivered to the Bank of England when it hits 150,000.
It reads, "The new 5 pound notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans and vegetarians in the UK. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use."
The new notes with an image of Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill became legal tender in September this year.
A vegetarian cafe in the university town of Cambridge is refusing to accept the new notes and Sharon Meijland, owner of Rainbow Cafe, has put up signs warning customers about the policy.
"Tallow's an animal product isn't it? Our whole business is based around not having anything like that on the premises.
Although the same person doesn't handle the money that handles the food, that's not really the point," she said.
The Bank of England says it is now looking into ways of removing the substance from the supply chain.
"We are aware of some people's concerns about traces of tallow in our new five pound note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness," a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the Australian pioneer of the polymer banknote says it’s "stupid" that vegetarian and vegans are protesting in the UK about the five pound polymer note containing animal fat.
Professor David Solomon says the polymer notes contain trivial amounts of tallow, which is also used in candles and soap.
"It's stupid. It's absolutely stupid. There's trivial amounts of it in there. It picks up less drugs than paper notes and you don't chop down trees. It's more hygienic than a paper note by a long way," he said.