Alicia Silverstone slams Starbucks again over vegan milk surcharge | Totally Vegan Buzz
Alicia Silverstone slams Starbucks for charging extra for vegan milk
Image: @aliciasilverstone/ Instagram and @rekre89/ Flickr

“How can a company that has voiced a commitment to sustainability be so hesitant to make a simple change for the betterment of our planet?”

Vegan actress and animal advocate Alicia Silverstone is back demanding Starbucks ditches its vegan milk surcharge

The coffee giant offers a range of plant-based milks including oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk, but charges extra.

Silverstone has therefore raised the issue again after first voicing her concerns on the topic in 2019 on Twitter.

Penalising customers

 This time in a letter to Starbucks, posted on her blog The Kind Life, the actress wrote: “Lots of activists have raised the issue of sustainable, cruelty-free options being more expensive than their harmful, animal-based counterparts.

“This price discrepancy makes it hard for the environmentally-friendly option to be accessible to everyone.”

She added: “These charges may seem small, but they penalize customers who are making humane and environmentally friendly choices.

“It also penalizes people for issues they can’t control, like being lactose intolerant—which affects 65 percent of the population, predominantly people of color.”

Vegan options at Starbucks

Starbucks has been steadily expanding its vegan menu to meet the increasing demand for plant-based options. In March, the coffee giant expanded Oatly’s oat milk to its nationwide menu and added a slew of plant-based additions to its menu.

The move follows a ‘sustainability statement’ released in January 2020, where Starbucks’ outlined its plans to become ‘resource positive’.

This means it would store more carbon than it emits, eliminate waste, and provide more clean freshwater than it uses.

After a sweeping environmental assessment showed that dairy products were responsible for over a fifth of Starbucks’ greenhouse gas emissions and over a seventh of its water use, CEO Kevin Johnson added that plant-based milk would be ‘a big part of the solution’ when it comes to reducing its footprint for greenhouse gases, water, and waste.

Starbucks adds dairy-free drinks, plant protein meal box, and oat milk to spring 2021 menu
Image: Starbucks

Vegan milk surcharge

While the coffee giant has been pushing plant-based options to align with its sustainability goals, it has still to review its stance on the vegan milk surcharge.

According to Starbucks, it charges extra for plant-based milks – up to 80 cents per cup—due to the higher cost it pays for plant-based milk as compared to dairy.

However, Silverstone countered Starbucks’ claim by pointing out that Starbucks’ profit margin on a cup of plain coffee is 90%.

 “With such a high-profit margin per cup of coffee, even after overhead, it is not an unreasonable request to stop charging for non-dairy milk,” she wrote.

She highlighted that the “real costs” of milk (and meat) are also lowered thanks to significant subsidies to the tune of nearly $40 billion a year from taxpayers, which “artificially deflates the real cost to produce these products.”

 The longtime vegan advocate also dismissed Starbucks’ second argument that any alterations to the original “recipe” of their drinks are charged extra, including adding flavor or extra shots of espresso.

Silverstone argued: “If that is the case… why doesn’t Starbucks have any non-dairy drinks on their “menu” for the same as the dairy drinks?

“Eco-friendly substitutions should not be lumped into the same category as additions to drinks.

“How can a company that has voiced a commitment to sustainability be so hesitant to make a simple change for the betterment of our planet?”

‘Time to take action

The 44-year-old isn’t the only celebrity to call out Starbucks on its unfair vegan tax. Recently, award-winning actor Alan Cumming also wrote a letter to Starbucks Canada Senior Vice President Lori Digulla urging that the coffee giant ditch the extra fee.

 “More than a year ago, Starbucks acknowledged that cow’s milk is the company’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions,” Cumming said.

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

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

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