Blood Money: Tallow in UK Currency


Hey there modern vegans and vegan curious,
it’s Margaret. And today I want to talk with you about blood
money. [Intro] “Blood money” or “corpse cash” has become
a big deal in the United Kingdom over the past week or so. It turns out that their five pound notes in
England are made using tallow. And this has upset the Jain community, the
vegan community, the vegetarian community – and numerous other communities. People are outraged to discover that the money
that they use every day contains animal products. And this can be an issue for a lot of people
for different reasons. For dietary reasons and particularly for religious
reasons. But I want to talk with you guys today about
why I think this is not necessarily where we should be placing our focus and our energy,
and why I think the best plan of addressing the use of animal products is actually avoiding
high profit centres, like leather, wool, meat and other animal products. You may be wondering why animal fat is included
in the processing of currency in the first place. And the answer is something known as a slip
agent. Slip agents are used in the manufacturing
process to prevent materials from sticking to manufacturing equipment and to lend anti-static
properties to the finished product. As you can imagine, this is very important
with something like a polymer currency, because it keeps it from sticking to everything and
it also keeps it from sticking to the equipment that its made on. About 23 other nations use this kind of polymer
currency, including Canada, the country I live in. And its used in order to make our currency. Stearic acid is a very popular form of slip
agent. And stearic acid, or stearamide, which is
the more complex form of the product that’s used as the slip agent. Stearamide is derived from stearic acid, which
is derived from animal products. Now, stearic acid can be derived from plant
materials, but it’s just a lot more expensive. And this takes me to my second point, which
is supply and demand. As I pointed out recently in my video on rendering
plants, we get a lot of stuff from rendering plants. And it’s because we use so many animals, and
they produce so much waste, that the only answer is rendering plants, or we would literally
drown in the garbage that is produced by the animal agriculture industry. Without rendering plants, we would literally
be drowning in animal waste. When a steer that weighs 1200 pounds is killed
for food, only about 500 pounds of it is useable as meat. That means that the other 700 pounds needs
to go somewhere else. And it usually ends up at a rendering plant. We use the skin of the animal to produce leather,
and then we use the remainder in order to produce gelatin, stearic acid and other materials
that are used for cat food and a variety of other manufactured products. Because these are byproducts, they’re less
expensive. And so companies will tend to rely on them
because they’re vastly less expensive. How much less expensive? Well, when we’re looking at that slip agent,
I think it’s important to keep in mind that animal fat costs less than ten cents per pound. And again, that’s simply because there’s so
much of it. We kill so many animals that animal fat is
incredibly inexpensive. And so for less than 10 cents a pound, stearic
acid can be produced by a company. Whereas if you were to purchase, say, shea
butter, it would five dollars a pound. That is orders of magnitude more expensive,
and even something like Canola oil, which is very affordable, still is 40 cents a pound,
which makes it four hundred percent more expensive than animal fat. And it also contains less stearic acid! So it’s a very poor source of that material,
and it’s also orders of magnitude more expensive. So, because of the sheer quantity of animal
fat that is produced by the rendering industry, by the animal agriculture industry, we have
so much animal fat and it’s so inexpensive that it’s natural that manufacturing companies
would seek out this cheap material if it fulfills their needs, and it does. And that brings us to point number 3: complete
avoidance of animal products is impossible. And particularly, avoiding animal fat is impossible. We use animal fat in almost every aspect of
our lives. And I’m telling you this, not to frighten
you or to upset you, but to simply let you know that it is truly unavoidable. And unless you live buried in a hole in the
sand, the likelihood that you won’t be taking advantage of animal products is extremely
remote. Here’s just a sampling of the products that
are made from tallow, or stearic acid: crayons, waxed paper, tires, engine oil, we use it
for antifreeze, we use it for so many things, so basically if you use transportation, you
use stearic acid. If you use art supplies, you’re using stearic
acid. And again, this stearic acid is highly unlikely
to have come from a vegetable source. More bad news for some of the companies that
are asking people not to use cash, but to use credit cards instead: credit card manufacturing
uses slip agents as well, and they use stearic acid just like they use for producing currency. There’s really no way of avoiding it. Because it’s in almost everything that we
use. It’s in antifreeze, it’s in the brake fluid,
in our cars, it’s used in the glue that holds almost everything we have together. Animal products are in everything. And we can avoid it as much as possible, I
strongly encourage you to avoid animal products as much as you can, but it is everywhere. If you use cellophane in order to wrap up
your food, cellophane has to have a slip agent. That slip agent is stearic acid. And it really is almost everywhere. Even in things that you would never imagine
it being in, there’s animal products. And that’s why I’m such a big believer in
the Vegan Society’s original definition of veganism, which was avoiding animal products
“as much as is possible and practicable.” And this is one case where it is not possible,
it’s not practicable. I deeply feel for the people in the UK who
are offended and surprised to know that there are animal products in their currency. But there are animal products in every aspect
of your life. And instead of looking at that as an aspect
of impurity in your life, I think we need to remember that it’s just a sign that our
entire society is built on the exploitation of animals. I still do my best to avoid animal products
in my life. But I know that it is impossible to eliminate
them. Our car has tires, we drive on an asphalt
road. We watch fireworks, which are made from glycerin,
which contains animal products. And really, truly, there’s no part of your
life that you do on a daily basis that doesn’t contain animal products. And again, I’m not saying this to depress
you, I’m not saying this because I want you to give up. I’m saying this to let you know that we need
to focus on the right things, not just the animal products themselves. There’s something so much more important,
and that is removing the profit factor from these businesses. The ironic thing is that money – the physical
currency – is not really making a lot of money for animal agriculture. It’s not. The amount of tallow – and tallow is very
cheap – that is used in this currency is so minisucle, and it’s worth so little to animal
agriculture that it’s really going to affect them one way or another. If we eliminate tallow from our currency,
we’re hurting ourselves far more than we’re hurting animal agriculture. The mere fact that there’s so much supply
of animal fat is what makes it so inexpensive. And that’s why our governments are choosing
to make their currency using it as a slip agent. What we need to be focusing on, if we truly
care about stopping the suffering of animals – if we want to end animal abuse and animal
exploitation – what we need to do is address profit centres. So before you think about even something like
cosmetics that contain animal products, I want you to think about the things that really
are profit centres for animal agriculture. And those are leather, wool and animal foods. Those products create a great deal of profit
for the animal agriculture industry. If you don’t purchase those things, you’ve
already done a huge thing to prevent animal agriculture from making a big profit. Leather makes a huge profit for animal industry. When a skin is transformed into leather, it
suddenly becomes a very valuable good that people are willing to pay for. If you look at its cost per pound compared
to animal fat, it’s very clear that is where they’re making their money. Same thing with animal foods. If you’re eating meat or dairy or eggs, those
are huge profit centres for those companies. Things like down, things like wool – those
contribute to the profit margins of these companies. But you know what doesn’t much are the things
that come from rendering plants. I obviously would love to see rendering plants
become a thing of the past and I know you would too. But I want other vegans to remember, and other
people who are just kind of disgusted by this – what I want you to remember is that it’s
the profits that are most important in this instance. We are not going to be able to end the use
of animal products in our daily lives until we address things like meat, dairy, eggs,
leather and wool. That’s how money is made for these industries. Not by the gelatine, the glycerin – all those
other little things that are in your goods. And I want you to focus primarily on those
top level animal products. Because that’s where you can really address
this industry. People don’t call for boycotts on worthless
items. And animal fat genuinely is worthless. It’s a worthless product that is sold off
at the very least possible amount of money simply in order to get rid of it. These companies are trying to get rid of it,
and they use it as much as they can, and they try to get rid of everything they can and
recycle what they can, so that they can continue their main business, which is animal foods,
leather and wool. That’s how they make their real money. So if you want to really hit them where they
hurt, don’t buy those things. But really, truly, I would love to see you
focusing on that and not currency. While I’m not against the people who are trying
to boycott currency, I do think it’s a misallocation of our resources. We would be much better served, and the animals
would be much better served, if we focused on educating people about meat, dairy and
eggs, leather and wool and other high-value animal products, rather than the recycled
remains of animals. It is a tragedy that our society is so much
more offended by the use of animal fat in currency than they are by the food that they
see on their plates every day. I think there’s more people in the UK who
are upset to find out that there’s tallow in their currency than there are people who
care about the use of animals and the exploitation of animals on a daily basis. So, if you’re vegan, or you’re thinking about
being vegan, I want you to look at profit centres first. Because that is how you make change. We need to educate ourselves, and we need
to make this industry less profitable. And the way of doing that is not attacking
the recycling company, which is basically the rendering plant. We’re not supposed to go after them, the rendering
plant is not our target – the target is the initial, first wave, which is all of the meat,
dairy, eggs, leather and wool. That is what we need to be addressing. So if you want to be rational, and impactful
and just be an effective vegan – please go after those things. And use your currency to pay for things that
really are good for the animals and for the environment. If you’re vegan, or thinking about going vegan,
or if you’re just disgusted by the idea of animal fat in your currency, what I would
like you to take away from this video is that you have the power as a consumer to truly
hit these companies where it hurts. That is by avoiding the profit centres, like
meat, dairy and eggs, leather and wool. Those are things that you can directly boycott
that will have a tremendous impact on the profit margins of these industries. And I would ask you to use your dollars – whether
in cash or by credit card – to vote for the things that really are good for the environment,
good for the planet, and purchase things with your money that matter, that are helpful to
you and that are not harmful to your health and that don’t exploit others. Use your money to vote. Instead of getting upset about what’s in your
money, I want you to focus on what I believe to be the bigger things. Thank you so much for watching. I hope that this video gave you some practical
tips in order to help you with your life as a vegan or someone who is vegan curious. If you enjoyed this video, please give it
a thumbs up and let me know in the comment section below what you think about this particular
issue. Do you think that we should be asking the
government to remove tallow from our currency? Or should we be focusing more of our energy
on eliminating other animal products that are higher profit centres. I take a very practical approach to this,
and I think that’s probably the best thing for most of us, but you may disagree. So I’d love to hear from you. If you want to know more about this topic,
please check out this subject on my blog and I will have more notes for you and resources
for further examination of this issue. Thank you so much for watching, and I hope
you have a beautiful day. Take care, bye. (Outro)

22 thoughts on “Blood Money: Tallow in UK Currency

  1. Yeah at end of day we have animal products in everything from photo developments,paint we use in our houses,drywall,car tyres and even the pavement we walk on.To be 100% vegan we would have to go totally off grid or to the moon lol.Its sickening but it's the sad world we live in,and only we can make any difference and limit suffering as much as we can xx

  2. hey Modvegan, love your videos, just one math mistake: 0.4 is 300% more than 0.1, just like 0.2 is 100% more 0.1. this is done by first subtracting the two numbers (0.4 – 0.1 = 0.3) and then comparing the answer to the base number (0.3 is 300% of 0.1). anyways I get what you were saying and keep up the great work!

  3. I stopped using parchment paper cause I suspect it of being made with lard and/or tallow and got the idea it leeched into my food, cause my bodyodor changed dramatically for upto 10 days after ingesting those foods. It doesn't specify on the package what type of fat they use, I'm sure I used one brand in the past that clearly smelled like coconut fats, but I forgot the name, I just carefully put my ingredients on the bare metal now. Most candles I still have, but hardly even light are no doubt made with stearic acid likely from animal origin. From my own experience I think soybean oil burns with the least intrusive smell. Also I recently bought a new pair of "vegetarian" shoes made from artificial materials, a smug friend of mine was quick to point out that most plastics made from petrochemicals are likely the result of some fosilized animal remains. But I share your point of hitting them where it hurts, don't buy meat, dairy, leather and eggs so the entire surplus of animal waste products doesn't occur in the first place.

  4. We must remember why we are vegans. We are taking a public stand against the suffering of animals. For this, keep the focus on ceasing (at best)what you can intentionally control. Show others this stance, teach and inform them the harm not only to animals, but to our planet so they can take the same stance.

  5. Yea I just read about this the other day 🙁 like you said, it's impossible to avoid animAl products completely. It's so sad, I'm amazed at the amount of uses people find for these animal products 🙁

  6. I disagree on two counts. First the fact that animal fat is used in so many different ways increases our need to apply political pressure to end these things not decrease it. Secondly, and more importantly, you cannot simply judge this matter on the hypothetical success and effect of an action, we cannot stop leather production in the very near future so the comparison doesn't make sense. What matters is the politicisation of our countries vegans, having a voice in the mainstream news as this achieved. The practice and efficacy of our actions here could set good precedence for the future. I know a vegetarian who became vegan after hearing this story, this was an opportunity to spread the message and we took it. I have no regrets over this.

  7. I was happy people had a problem with tallow in the UK. Because it actually got more vegans on the news and in traditional media. In terms of it being the tip of the iceberg, for sure, I agree. But I think it was right people stood up and spoke out about this because it can only lead to more people thinking about the bigger issues and they get more exposure to veganism.

  8. I agree, 100%, although I think it's good that it was brought to our attention…I think ultimately it has made the movement look bad, the amount of articles I have seen making fun of the fact that we cared has been unsettling, I saw countless posts on my timeline mocking the petition and stating very fairly (and like you said) that there are trace animal products in so, so, so many products. I think we may be best working from the top down, like you said, abstaining from the biggest industries & attempting to draw attention to those industries i.e factory farms, dairy farms etc. If we are going to have a petition for £5 notes, we would need to do it for all the others you mention. It does suck that they find ways to use animals in literally everything.. 🙁

  9. Great episode! Incredible (and very sad) how thoroughly we exploit them! You are absolutely right; we have to get our priorities straight! Hit the murderous exploiters in the profit centers (meat, leather, etc.) to make a change across the board.

  10. This is what I have been saying to my peers. It's easy to avoid animal products in food, cosmetics and some household items. However, it is not easy to avoid the monetary system.

  11. Hey hon, I am SO behind in your videos! Christmas was unreal for me but I'll catch up shortly! :)Yeah, the whole idea of animal products being used as a slip agent in money is disgusting and disturbing…but it's just a waste product. The bigger issue is that the animals were killed for their flesh or skin in the first place. If we stop that then another option will be found. And as you said, it's impossible to avoid it completely – so it's probably already in many products without people even realising it. I have read that in the US animal-derived stearic acid is used as a slip agent on plastic shopping bags at supermarkets.

  12. Wonderful video! Would you say lanolin is a high value product? I'm struggling to stop using it as it's the only thing that helps with my extremely dry lips.

  13. I love your videos and the rational stance you're taking. It's rare to see a vegan youtuber knowing about common sense economics (thinking of boycots and supply chains here) I remember when it was on the news that some vegan restaurants in London were boycotting the new fiver and I think we should also consider that it can make vegans look ridiculous. I wasn't really interested in veganism yet back then and remember laughing with my flatmate about how vegans are gonna walk around with hemp sacks full of coins from now on because they're gradually replacing the other notes too. xD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *