Starbucks is hearing from celebrity Alicia Silverstone about the surcharge on plant-based milks in their beverages. As if that weren't bad enough news, now PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), is buying up stock in order to have a voice as a Starbucks shareholder. The question is: Is the 80 cents they charge extra worth it? The PR battle that's about to ensue could cost them a whole lot more.

In an attempt to dispose of the current alternative milk fee at Starbucks, PETA has invested in Starbucks stock with plans to pressure the company to make a change. There has been an incessant fight among consumers who prefer almond milk in their coffee to try and get the massive chain to stop charging extra for milk alternatives.

Starbucks Corporation currently charges an additional 80 cents to your beverage cost for almond milk. Many consumers are deeming this to be unfair The consumer shift toward non-dairy milk has grown exponentially in the past several years, and charging extra is like putting the brakes on progress, so in stepped PETA to make this an issue as a stockholder. PETA’s website now has a petition and several blog posts behind their reasoning for the stake in Starbucks. They state:

“Starbucks should be encouraging customers to choose animal-friendly, vegan milks rather than cow's milk. Many other chains—including Tim Hortons, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Noah's New York Bagels, Philz Coffee, and Costa Coffee—already offer dairy-free milk at no extra charge.”

With over 176,000 signatures already, many consumers are backing up PETA’s mission. Earlier this year, consumers showed up at Starbucks' headquarters in Seattle to protest the milk surcharge. Along with that, PETA protestors also showed up at the largest Starbucks location in Chicago, which opened in November, to have their voices heard.

Actress Alicia Silverstone, took to Twitter to voice her concern:

"It would be amazing for Starbucks to lead the way and consider enviro externalities associated with the dairy industry by having dairy cost + or at least = [plant milk] fees.”

Starbucks has begun expanding its vegan options with new menu items, especially in England. Instagram @vegan_food_uk recently announced that they were to be bringing a Vegan Chocolate & Raspberry Cake and a Jackfruit and Cheese Grain Bowl. 

With the consumer interest in plant-based eating, the question is why hasn't Starbucks made the move to not charging extra for non-dairy milk. If Starbucks were to lead the way and eliminate the surcharge, many other corporations would follow suit.

In a world where consumers who are lactose-intolerant or prefer alternative milks for health or ethical reasons, it seems unreasonable for Starbucks to charge more for plant-based or non-dairy milks. If you agree that the surcharge should be eliminated and would like to voice your support, you can go to PETA’s website and sign their petition.