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  1. ITV Report

Vegetarian café owner who refuses new £5 notes 'absolutely devastated' at abuse

Sharon Meijland put this sign up in her restaurant Credit: Rainbow Vegetarian Cafe/Restaurant

The owner of a vegetarian café who refuses to accept the new £5 note because it contains animal fat has become the target of internet trolling.

Sharon Meijland, who has owned the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge for 30 years, put up signs in her restaurant after discovering the plastic currency is made with tallow.

She wrote: “Sorry, we cannot accept the new £5 note as it contains animal by-products.”

Mrs Meijland, 66, told ITV News she is “absolutely devastated” at the abuse she has received since announcing the policy.

The cafe/restaurant has been established 30 years Credit: Rainbow Vegetarian Cafe/Restaurant

The life-long vegetarian said people nation-wide have been contacting her in the dead of night to express anger at the café and her staff.

She said: “I’m completely shocked and appalled. One man in Manchester messaged me at 3am to complain about the sign. I had no idea it would blow up like this.

“Some people are saying I’m only doing it for the publicity – I’m not. This business is a labour of love.

“We are not publicity-seeking – we have won awards for our ethical practices. That’s what keeps us going.

“Every single physical customer we’ve had in here has thanked us for taking a stand.”

The sign greets customers as they enter the restaurant Credit: Rainbow Vegetarian Cafe/Restaurant

Mrs Meijland added that her staff had been scared by the abuse they have received, but said “today is a new day, we’ll see what it brings”.

She said she would be able to accommodate customers who only had a new £5 note.

The Rainbow Vegetarian Café/Restaurant has been catering for people with food allergies and special requirements “long before these things became popular”.

Mrs Meijland added: "Our whole business is based around not having dead animal products on the premises."

Vegetarians and vegans reacted with fury after it emerged the Bank of England used animal fat to make its new notes.

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition against the use of tallow to manufacture the new polymer notes, which were released in September.