Ahead of his upcoming concert tour stop in Seattle, US, where Starbucks is based, Sir Paul McCartney is asking the company to end its surcharge on plant-based milks. In a just-sent letter, the long-time ally of PETA entities urges CEO Kevin Johnson to leave a parting gift for cows and the planet by arranging to end the chain’s vegan milk upcharge before he retires on 4 April. In India, Starbucks doesn’t charge extra for soy milk but does charge extra for almond and oat milks, even though three out of four Indians are lactose intolerant and therefore cannot properly digest animal milk.
“My friends at PETA are campaigning for this,” writes McCartney. “I sincerely hope that for the future of the planet and animal welfare, you are able to implement this policy.”
Unlike Johnson, cows and buffaloes in the dairy industry usually don’t get a pleasant life or a happy retirement. On industrial farms, they’re repeatedly and forcibly impregnated – workers insert an arm into the animals’ rectum and a metal rod into their vagina to deliver semen. When their milk production wanes, some end up at crowded gowshalas, while many are commonly abandoned or sent to slaughter. Male calves, considered of little to no use by the dairy industry since they cannot produce milk, are routinely abandoned, left to starve, or sent to be killed (and those abroad are commonly turned into veal). And while Johnson is enjoying his upcoming retirement, Starbucks will be fuelling the climate catastrophe that imperils future generations’ chances of doing the same, because cows’ milk is Starbucks’ biggest contributor to its carbon footprint. Meat, egg, and dairy production accounts for nearly one-fifth of human-induced global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a United Nations report.
Sir Paul points out to Johnson that numerous chains abroad (including Philz Coffee, Panera Bread, and Pret A Manger) offer dairy-free milk at no extra charge and that Starbucks in the UK recently dropped its vegan milk surcharge. In India, those who want to digest their latte or milkshake easily and don’t want to contribute to industrial farming or harm the environment should not be penalised by being forced to pay extra. Blue Tokai offers Goodmylk’s cashew-oat milk at no extra charge.
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