THE Bank of England could face a legal challenge from vegans over its use of animal fats in banknotes, lawyers have warned.
An employment judge found that holding a sincere belief in “ethical veganism” should be given the same legal protection under the Equality Act as that given to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
The legal team defending the vegan said after the hearing that animal rights activists could now even try to obtain a judicial review into whether the Bank of England’s use of tallow – which is derived from animals – in £5 and £10 notes constitutes indirect discrimination against their beliefs.
There was widespread condemnation from vegans when it emerged trace elements of animal fats were used in a polymer to coat new banknotes.
The plastic is intended to prevent the counterfeit production of money, as well as make the notes smooth to the touch.
Although the tallow makes up less than one per cent of a banknote, members of numerous religious faiths were outraged that its use “discriminated” against their requirement to abstain from pork and beef products.
The vegan opposition to the use of tallow, a hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fats, was given a potential legal boost after tribunal judge Robin Postle said he was “overwhelmingly satisfied” ethical veganism was “important” and “worthy” of respect in a democratic society.
His preliminary ruling at Norwich Employment Tribunal came after Jordi Casamitjana, 55, was sacked from the League Against Cruel Sports for revealing to colleagues that its pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing.
After the judgement Peter Daly, principal employment lawyer which represents Mr Casamitjana, said the ruling could even see activists try to obtain a judicial review to try to have tallow removed from banknotes.
He said: “The use of animal products could be quite interesting as an indirect discrimination case.
“Jordi doesn’t use £5 and £10 notes if he can possibly avoid them.”
While there around 600,000 vegans in the UK who only eat a plant-based diet, ethical vegans also try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation or cruelty from their lives, including not wearing wool or leather or supporting business that do so. Mr Casamitjana, a zoologist originally from Spain, will avoid taking buses incase the vehicle kills or harm birds or insects.