Alan Cumming calls out Starbucks for ‘penalizing vegans with upcharges’ – Totally Vegan Buzz
Alan Cumming calls out Starbucks for 'penalizing vegans with upcharges’
Image: Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com

“Stop charging customers more for choosing environmentally and animal-friendly vegan milk.”

Alan Cumming is urging Starbucks Canada to stop charging customers for non-dairy milk alternatives.

Ordering a Starbucks’ beverage with any non-dairy alternative such as oat, soy, and almond costs $0.95 extra in some locations such as the US.

The vegan actor voiced his appeal in an open letter addressed to the coffee giant’s senior vice president Lori Digulla.

In the letter, Cumming, a PETA Honorary Director wrote: “More than a year ago, Starbucks acknowledged that cow’s milk is the company’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

“Yet it continues to penalize customers for making green and humane choices by charging them extra for vegan milk.”

Vegan milk surcharge

Last year, addressing PETA’s question on removing the upcharge on vegan milks, Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said: “While there’s no single factor in pricing decisions we expect costs to come down as the supply chain for plant-based options matures. 

“And as the costs come down, we can pass this onto our customers. We will watch this carefully.”

Sustainability initiatives

The letter also follows CEO Kevin Johnson’s declaration that plant-based is the ‘#1 trend’ and ‘most dominant’ shift in consumer preferences.

In a previously released ‘sustainability statement’ the coffee giant revealed that plant-based milk would be ‘a big part of the solution’ as the brand strives to become ‘resource positive’ and reduce its greenhouse gases, water, and waste footprints by 50% by 2030.

Acknowledging that dairy products cause the largest portion of the chain’s carbon footprint, Starbucks has introduced several plant-based alternatives including almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk as part of its vision for a ‘Planet Positive Future’.

Oat milk will also be made available in all US stores beginning this spring after a trial at 1,300 Midwest stores proved successful last January.

The coffee giant is also consistently working on expanding its plant-based menu with one Starbucks store in the Seattle area used as a ‘test site’ to trial the brand’s latest vegan offerings.

PETA organizes sit-ins to protest against Starbucks’ unfair vegan tax
Image: Wachiwit / shutterstock

‘Time to take action’

Pointing out these developments, Cumming in his letter wrote:“I was heartened to read that Starbucks will expand its vegan menu to meet the increasing demand for plant-based food and to work toward its sustainability commitment.

“However, there is one simple action that Starbucks could take right now to show that it’s serious about cutting its carbon emissions and reducing waste.

“Stop charging customers more for choosing environmentally and animal-friendly vegan milk.”

He added that the upcharge “unfairly harms people who are lactose intolerant—most of whom are people of color.”

Urging Starbucks to follow other chains like Toronto-based Balzac’s Coffee Roasters and Vancouver-based Breka Bakery & Cafe that don’t charge extra for vegan milk, Cumming said: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

“If Starbucks really wants to help the planet, it must do more than just talk about its goals. It’s time to take action.

“The most responsible move would be to stop selling cow’s milk altogether, but at the very least, Starbucks can—and must—end the vegan milk upcharge.”

Petition

PETA has also launched a petition urging Starbucks to stop charging extra for vegan milks.

It says: “Starbucks should be encouraging customers to choose animal-friendly, vegan milks rather than cow’s milk.

“Many other chains—including Wawa, Panera Bread, Pret A Manger, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Noah’s New York Bagels, Philz Coffee, and Costa Coffee—already offer dairy-free milk at no extra charge.

“A massive chain such as Starbucks can afford to offer vegan milk without tacking on a surcharge, and I hope you’ll consider making this move to “earn points” and not only keep customers who already order dairy-free milk coming back but also encourage others to make healthier, more compassionate choices.”

The petition has already gathered over 138,587 signatures. You too can sign it here.

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