U. of Idaho Students Demand ‘Free’ Vegan Milk from Starbucks

starbucks-us-sales-Mark LennihanAP
Mark Lennihan/AP

Students at the University of Idaho are boycotting a local Starbucks location over the chain’s failure to provide “vegan milk” as a free option to patrons. The students organized a sit-in protest event this week at the local Starbucks to bring attention to their cause.

According to a report by Campus Reform, student activists at the University of Idaho are not satisfied with the milk offerings at a local Starbucks location. The student protest event was held in response to Starbuck’s pricing model, which charges customers extra if they prefer vegan milk in their coffee.

Protest leader Kaylee Carr said that the “sit-in” was organized to “peacefully raise awareness about the fact that Starbucks is penalizing people for choosing a healthier drink option that doesn’t support animal abuse and is better for the environment by charging extra for plant-based milk options.”

“We are urging Starbucks to stop charging extra for vegan milks because Starbucks shouldn’t be penalizing people for choosing a healthier option that doesn’t support animal abuse and is better for the environment,” Carr added.

Carr claims that Starbucks is violating its professed values by charging customers an additional fee to have vegan milk in their coffee. Carr highlighted the company’s recent promise to cut the chain’s carbon emissions in half by 2030. The company allegedly said that urging customers to chose plant-based products was one of the means by which they planned to achieve this end.

“Starbucks recently stated that they want to cut their carbon emissions as a company in half by 2030 in a plan that includes encouraging customers to choose more of their plant-based options; however, they did not address their current plant-based milk upcharge at all. There are many coffee chains that have dropped their upcharge for plant-based milks, including Panera and Whole Foods. We are asking that Starbucks does the same,” Carr told Campus Reform.

The controversial animal rights activist group PETA sponsored the protest event. In a statement, a PETA director said that the protest brought attention to the “unethical” practice of charging customers extra for vegan milk.

“Continuing to charge more for vegan milk while admitting that it’s the key to reducing Starbucks’ massive carbon footprint is irresponsible and unethical. Young people are leading the charge in demanding that the company wake up and smell the coffee: It’s time for the unfair surcharge to end,” PETA Senior Director of Youth Program Marta Holmberg said.

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