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

For Immediate Release:
March 1, 2021

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Seattle – Today, PETA Honorary Director Alan Cumming sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, writing, “[I]t’s been over a year since your company acknowledged that cow’s milk is its biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions, yet you are still charging more for vegan milk. I’m urging you to put your words into action by dropping the surcharge on it.”

Cumming’s PETA appeal comes after Johnson declared at a Starbucks investor meeting, “[T]he most dominant shift in consumer behavior is … to plant-based [products]. And this is a shift both in beverage and in food.” Yet Johnson refuses to join other chains like Costa Coffee, Stumptown, Wawa, Panera Bread, and many others 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 Johnson follows.

March 1, 2021

Kevin Johnson, CEO

Starbucks

Dear Mr. Johnson:

As a vegan and an honorary director of PETA, I was heartened to read that Starbucks plans to expand its plant-based menu to meet the increasing demand. As you make these changes, I’d like to point out that it’s been over a year since your company acknowledged that cow’s milk is its biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions, yet you are still charging more for vegan milk. I’m urging you to put your words into action by dropping the surcharge on it.

Please show us that Starbucks knows it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. The secretary-general of the United Nations has urged world leaders to declare a “climate emergency,” and President Joe Biden has signed an executive order for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris climate agreement. 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, you can end the upcharge on vegan milk that penalizes customers who are making the humane, environmentally friendly choice, along with those who are lactose intolerant—most of whom are people of color.

In response to the pandemic, many companies are attempting to become a greater force for good in the world, and people want to support responsible businesses that are making a genuine effort to combat climate change.

Please demonstrate that you care about animals, the environment, and your customers by ending the surcharge on vegan milk. My friends at PETA and I will sing your praises when you do!

Sincerely,

Alan Cumming

PETA Honorary Director

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