On 13th April 2024, a group of vegan activists dressed as polar bears protested the Starbucks store on S. Eastern Avenue, Henderson, Nevada, US, to urge the company to stop charging customers extra for vegan milk. The point they tried to make is that such a surcharge incentivises customers to choose dairy, even though the dairy industry is a top producer of greenhouse gases contributing to melting the ice caps and killing polar bears by driving the climate catastrophe. The pleading “polar bears” are the latest action in PETA’s campaign calling on Starbucks to end the upcharge for vegan milks.

Tracy Reiman, PETA Executive Vice President, said “Starbucks admits that it has a massive carbon footprint from its use of dairy, yet the company still refuses to put the planet over profits. PETA is calling on Starbucks to end the shameful vegan milk upcharge and give a frap about the polar bears who die on melting ice caps and the cows forcibly impregnated for dairy.”

On 12th March 2024, three people filed a lawsuit against Starbucks alleging that its extra charges for non-dairy alternatives are discriminatory. According to the lawsuit, these surcharges, which do not happen in other countries, are designed only to profit from customers with allergies or lactose intolerance.

On 13th March 2024, 94.7% of Starbucks’ stakeholders voted against a proposal to drop the extra charge for plant-based milk in their US stores. Sandy Labowitz, who holds at least $25,000 worth of Starbucks stock for PETA, proposed the charges at Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting, 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.

“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’.