BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – PETA is planning to bring its unabashed advocacy for animals to Buffalo on Thursday when the group inserts itself as a sideshow to the unprecedented unionization efforts of local Starbucks workers.
PETA will unveil a display outside the Elmwood Village Starbucks location at noon while it advocates for the company to stop charging extra for non-dairy milks.
“With top Starbucks executives in town for local workers’ unionization vote, PETA will create a ruckus with a lifelike calf prop stuffed inside a Starbucks cup outside the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks store on Thursday,” the group said in a press release. “PETA is calling on the company to stop charging extra for animal-friendly vegan milk, a policy that it continues despite admitting that vegan milk is kinder to the planet than cow’s milk, the chain’s biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Those who cannot tolerate dairy or otherwise prefer a vegan alternative such as almond, coconut, soy or oat milk are hit with an upcharge of 70 cents on their Starbucks lattes.
“Starbucks’ vegan milk upcharge leaves a bad taste in the mouths of customers who care about animals or the environment,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA is calling on Starbucks to price vegan milk at or below the price of cow’s milk, which is cruel to cows and fuels the climate crisis.”
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said last year that “he’ll push consumers to choose milk made from almond, coconuts, soy or oats, whose production is environmentally friendlier than dairy,” according to the Seattle Times. The paper reported as many as one-fifth of Starbucks customers in North America already choose non-dairy options.
“Alternative milks will be a big part of the solution,” Johnson said in the article of the company’s plan to cut waste, water use and carbon emissions. “The consumer-demand curve is already shifting.”
Delish, a food website, wrote last year that Starbucks has plans to no longer charge an additional fee for drinks that use plant-based milks, but did not include a timeline on when that change would go into effect. Starbucks did not responded to a News 4 inquiry.
The Elmwood Village Starbucks location, on Elmwood near West Delavan Avenue, is one of the local stores seeking to become the first locations in the country to unionize.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.