Succession Star James Cromwell Protests Starbucks’ Vegan Milk Upcharge
James Cromwell is tired of paying extra for a vegan latte. Teaming up with PETA, the Succession actor just superglued his hand to a Starbucks counter to protest the plant-based milk upcharge, bringing his anti-capitalist character Uncle Ewan to life. The protest occurred Tuesday in a Midtown Manhattan Starbucks where the actor live-streamed the protest on Facebook.
“My friends at PETA and I are calling on Starbucks to stop punishing kind and environmentally conscious customers for choosing plant milks,” Cromwell said in a press release from PETA. “We all have a stake in the life-and-death matter of the climate catastrophe, and Starbucks should do its part by ending its vegan upcharge.”
The Oscar-nominated actor – best known for L.A. Confidential – called out Starbucks’ unjust practice of promoting animal cruelty, environmental damage, and customer healthy by making it difficult to choose a sustainable option. During the protest, the actor wore a “Free the Animals” t-shirt and proclaimed his dissatisfaction with the international coffee chain’s policies.
“When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals, and the environment suffer?” Cromwell said. “These mothers must endure the loss of their child over and over again. They suffer no less than human mothers would.”
Typically, Starbucks locations charge 50 cents to a dollar more on drinks made with the company’s plant-based options compared to dairy milk. Currently, Starbucks offers coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, and soymilk options. A Starbucks spokesperson responded to the protest claiming that customers have the right to voice their options as long “as it does not disrupt our store operations.”
Paul McCartney Begs CEO to Make a Change
Cromwell’s protest closely follows Paul McCartney’s highly publicized letter to the leaving Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson – who once promised that Starbucks was experiencing a “dominant shift" to plant-based options. McCartney’s letter urged Johnson to discard the vegan milk surcharge before he retired, allowing customers to easily substitute the milk for a sustainable and healthier option.
“It recently came to my attention that Starbucks in the USA has an extra charge for plant-based milks as opposed to cow’s milk,” McCartney wrote to Johnson.“I must say this surprised me as I understand that in other countries like UK and India, there is the same charge for both types of milk and I would like to politely request that you consider this policy also in Starbucks USA.”
The letter aimed to bring attention to the lack of progress within the United States when compared to other countries that have started moving in the plant-based direction. Johnson retired before ending the plant-based milk surcharge.
Starbucks' Plant-Based Developments Starbucks
Despite slower progress stateside, Starbucks is working on multiple plant-based and sustainable projects worldwide. This January, the Seattle-based coffee shop removed the milk surcharge at more than 1,000 locations in the United Kingdom. Though this policy is limited to select countries, Starbucks is developing plant-based dairy options including its first vegan bottled Frappuccinos made with oat milk.
Beyond the dairy, the major coffee company is working to meet its sustainability goals with its Greener Stores concept – an environmentally-conscious initiative that is transforming its stores to become 50 percent plant-based. The company revealed that it currently operates around 2,300 Greener Stores, but intends to expand to 10,000 locations worldwide. Even though most stores still force customers to pay the additional charge, it is possible that Starbucks’ Greener Stores concept will influence its regular locations, especially as the demand for dairy-free milk continues to increase.
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