Vegetarians are calling for the new £5 notes to be scrapped because they contain animal fat.

A petition started by Doug Maw, of Cumbria, was launched after the Bank of England confirmed that the new plastic notes, released in September, are made with tallow — a form of beef or mutton fat.

It calls for the central bank to issue a different alternative and has been signed by over 75,000 people in just one day.

The petition says: "The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK.

"We demand that you [the Bank of England] cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use."

Maw, who has been a vegan for 20 years, said that he is "disgusted" by the decision to use tallow in the currency. He told The Times: "I understand old notes contain stuff as well – we can't do anything about what is in circulation – but the fact they are producing new ones is what really riles me.

"There is no excuse for it. There has got to be other ways of making money without using animal products. It is the Bank of England – can't they come up with something a little bit more modern?

"There's a huge amount of people that eat a plant-based diet or are vegan. They are not just disrespecting a tiny minority.

"It is incredibly disrespectful. We have no choice with money – we have to use it. They issue it through ATMs and hand them to us in shops. Basically, we are being forced to have animal products on us."

Innovia Security, the company which creates the £5 notes, refused to comment. Its website claims that its banknote substrate, known as Guardian, accounts for over 99% of the 20 billion plastic notes in circulation around the world today. They are used in 24 countries including Australia, Mexico and Canada.