Five pound note inventor calls vegetarians "stupid" over fuss

2 December 2016

The drama around the use of animal fat in the five pound note continues, with the inventor of the new polymer note saying that all of the recent fuss is “stupid”.

Talking on Australian radio station 2GB, Professor David Solomon, who teaches chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Melbourne, said, “It’s stupid… it’s absolutely stupid,” before adding “if there was any tallow in there at all, it’s buried in there - there will be trivial amounts of it”. He then went on to highlight the advantages of the note, including the fact that it picks up less drugs, it doesn’t rely on chopping down trees and that it’s much harder to forge. He revealed that the process to manufacture the note was the result of 28 years’ of work.


More than 120,000 people have supported an online petition urging the Bank of England to stop using animal fat in the production of five pound notes – the first polymer notes in circulation in the UK.

The host of the radio show, Ross Greenwood, appeared to be in complete agreement with Professor Solomon, branding the UK as “bonkers,” and then going on to highlight that the amount of tallow present in the polymer used in the notes is “just a trace.”

Later on in the programme he listed Professor Solomon’s achievements, which include the Prime Minister’s Prize for Scientist, the Centenary Medal and the Companion of the Order of the Australia.



One Moneywise reader, using the moniker ‘flintcombe’ says: “I'm allergic to nickel in the coinage but I do not make a fuss about it. Just find ways of avoiding the problem. The vegans and veggies should just learn to live with tallow in the banknotes.”

The 5p and 10p coins introduced in 2012 are coated with a layer of nickel instead of the copper-nickel alloy that had been used since 1947.

Moneywise editor Moira O’Neill is also allergic to nickel and has reactions to inexpensive jewellery, which include a “very itchy rash”. It’s believed that 10% of people in the UK suffer from the same affliction.

Moira says: “I have never had an allergic reaction to a 5p, or even a 10p. I am vegetarian though and am glad that the Bank of England has said it is taking the concerns of those who are upset by the use of tallow in the five pound notes very seriously.”

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