“I glued my hand to a Starbucks counter. Here’s why.”
This is not the title of a five-year-old’s kindergarten memoir, but rather it is the title of a Washington Post op-ed from the 82-year-old actor James Cromwell.
Cromwell, an actor known for his role in the 90s film Babe, glued himself to a Starbucks countertop in Manhattan alongside other PETA activists because he wants vegan milk alternatives to be priced the same as real milk.
"Succession" actor James Cromwell super-glued himself to a Starbucks counter in protest of their extra charge for vegan milk. pic.twitter.com/ou63Zp0om7
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 10, 2022
Cromwell claimed that real milk is destroying the planet and that a large-scale shift to an alternative, such as oat or almond milk, is essential to the fate of the planet. He cited Starbucks’ own claim that real milk generates up to three times the emissions of milk alternatives.
Conveniently, Cromwell left out the fact that increased demand for milk alternatives such as almond milk has been cited as a main driver of California’s droughts. Or that it’s a major threat to the bee population.
And, even if the environmental benefits were clear, it would make almost no difference in climate change. If every American went totally vegan, total emissions for the United States would only drop 2.6 percent. And the U.S. is not the largest global emissions producer, making the effect even smaller.
Suddenly, that glass of milk looks pretty small in the big picture.
But even though the environmental benefits are questionable, does PETA have a point about price-gouging?
Cromwell admitted that there is a price difference between real milk and vegan milk of roughly 8 cents. The company charges an extra 80 cents for vegan milk, or a 10-fold markup. But further research shows that Starbucks consistently charges 10-fold on its products.
A cup of coffee, for example, costs Starbucks 35 cents to produce, according to a 2014 report. But at the time, a cup sold for $3.65 – roughly a 10 percent mark-up. As PETA admitted, vegan milk is more expensive than real dairy. Starbucks appears to be consistently applying a markup.
The fact is that Starbucks needs some level of markup to operate its stores, pay staff, and unglue idiots from their countertops.
Yet PETA and its allies like Cromwell are going to continue to target the store until they cave – and it likely won’t be a price drop. If Starbucks wishes to stay in business, especially during this time of inflation, they are much more likely to just raise the price of real dairy to create parity, making real milk the more profitable option for the store – all while doing almost nothing to help the planet.