Last month, 94.7% of the stakeholders of the US coffee chain Starbucks voted against the proposal of the animal rights group PETA to drop the extra charge for plant-based milk in their US stores, despite this surcharge does not happen in other countries. 

Sandy Labowitz, who holds at least $25,000 worth of Starbucks stock for PETA, proposed the charges at Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting on 13th March 2024, as vegan customers, or lactose-intolerant customers, are paying up to 90 cents more for non-dairy milk. In the UK, China, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, Starbucks does not charge more, but it does in the US. 

PETA has presented this proposal to Starbucks’ shareholders before, as they have been running this campaign for years, but since the UK branches stopped the surcharge in January 2022, it has stepped up the pressure. On 10th  May 2022, American actor and animal rights activist James Cromwell superglued his hand to a Starbucks counter in New York City to protest against the surcharge the company charges for vegan milk in the US.

Jacqueline Sadashige, PETA’s manager of corporate responsibility, said to The Green Queen, “PETA is using geofencing technology to push the spot into the web browsers of Starbucks executives at the company’s headquarters and customers at its Reserve Roastery in Seattle…Starbucks has admitted that cow’s milk is the biggest contributor to the company’s carbon footprint, but it continues to put profits first by charging extra for animal- and planet-friendly vegan options…Given Starbucks’ opaque pricing strategy and apparent lack of attention to the greater repercussions of that strategy’s effect on consumer sentiment and behaviour, it’s reasonable for shareholders to request a report examining any costs to Starbucks’ reputation and any impact on its projected sales incurred as a result of its ongoing upcharge on plant-based milks,”

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.