Dairy at LeBron James’ Center Starbucks Is No Slam Dunk for POC or Animals, Says PETA

For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2023

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Akron, Ohio – Now that a Starbucks store has opened at LeBron James’ new community center, House Three Thirty, PETA sent a letter to the philanthropist basketball star today, urging him to “make a game-changing play” for animals and people of color—many of whom are lactose intolerant—by establishing the location as the first dairy-free Starbucks.

The request is the latest step in the group’s campaign against Starbucks’ extra charge for vegan milks, which penalizes the approximately 80% of Black and Indigenous Americans and more than 90% of Asian Americans who are lactose intolerant. Not only does the surcharge perpetuate dietary racism, it also discourages customers from making choices that help prevent abusive dairy industry practices—such as separating mothers from their calves—and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

“The dairy industry’s cruelty to cows, environmental impact, and negative health effects on lactose intolerant individuals contradict the hope your foundation brings,” writes PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “The first dairy-free Starbucks location at House Three Thirty would set a precedent for socially responsible business practices and create ripple effects that would impact society for generations to come.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that the Black community is the fastest-growing vegan demographic in the U.S. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to James follows.

April 5, 2023

LeBron Raymone James Sr.

The LeBron James Family Foundation

Founder

Dear Mr. James,

As a fan of your unmatched basketball skills and your unwavering commitment to your community, I’m writing to you about a request that would really score big. Your foundation’s newly opened House Three Thirty in Akron, Ohio, has the potential to take the game to the next level and make a real difference in people’s lives. After seeing the news that the community center features a Starbucks, I wanted to bring to your attention an issue that we think you’ll find concerning: Starbucks perpetuates dietary racism through its vegan milk upcharge. This policy unjustly penalizes millions of lactose intolerant Americans, particularly people of color, since around 80% of Black and Indigenous Americans and more than 90% of Asian Americans are affected. We believe that no one should be punished for wanting to make a more compassionate and environmentally conscious choice. That’s why I’m urging you to make a game-changing play by insisting that the Starbucks store at House Three Thirty be the chain’s first dairy-free location.

The dairy industry’s cruelty to cows, environmental impact, and negative health effects on lactose intolerant individuals run counter to the aims of your foundation. Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force them to continue producing milk, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally torn away from their mothers within a day of birth, which causes them both extreme distress. Mother cows can be heard calling for their calves for days.

In addition, producing cow’s milk generates around three times more greenhouse gas emissions and uses nine times more land than vegan options do. It takes 628 liters of water to make 1 liter of cow’s milk—oat milk or soy milk requires 90% less water. In fact, an environmental assessment revealed that Starbucks found that dairy-based items are the leading contributor to its carbon footprint across its supply chain.

The first dairy-free Starbucks location at House Three Thirty would set a precedent for socially responsible business practices and create ripple effects that would affect society in a positive way for generations to come. I hope you’ll consider my request. We could team up to make a positive change for animal welfare, the environment, and those who suffer from lactose intolerance.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I eagerly await your response.

Sincerely,

Lisa Lange,

Senior VP, PETA

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind