Alan Cumming to Starbucks Canada Exec: ‘Stop Penalizing Vegans With Upcharges’

For Immediate Release:
February 25, 2021

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Toronto – Today, PETA Honorary Director Alan Cumming—who just filmed a new show for Apple TV+ in Vancouver—sent an appeal to Starbucks Canada Senior Vice President Lori Digulla, writing, “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.”

Cumming’s appeal to the Toronto-based subsidiary comes just after CEO Kevin Johnson declared at a Starbucks investor meeting, “[T]he most dominant shift in consumer behavior … is this whole shift to plant-based products. And that is a shift both in beverage and in food.” Starbucks refuses to join other chains like Toronto-based Balzac’s Coffee Roasters and Vancouver-based Breka Bakery & Cafe that don’t charge extra for vegan milk. The upcharge has been particularly controversial among Black customers, many of whom are lactose intolerant.

Cumming’s full letter appears below. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Cumming’s letter to Digulla follows.

February 25, 2021

Lori Digulla

Senior Vice President and General Manager

Starbucks Canada

Dear Ms. Digulla:

As a vegan and an honorary director of PETA, 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.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. 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. This also unfairly harms people who are lactose intolerant—most of whom are people of color.

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 secretary-general of the United Nations has urged world leaders to declare a “climate emergency,” and President Biden has signed an executive order for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate agreement. As you know, greenhouse gases are released at nearly every stage of milk production, and manure from dairy farms contaminates our waterways and creates dead zones in the oceans where no life can survive.

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. My friends at PETA and I will sing your praises when you do!

Sincerely,

Alan Cumming

PETA Honorary Director

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