Monday, May 21, 2012

Does Starbucks Hate Vegans?

Most people have a special affinity for Starbucks; vegans are no exception.  Once they added soy milk to their regular repertoire, the floodgates of possibilities opened.  Unfortunately, "soy, no-whip" does not necessarily vegan make, as evidenced by all of the surprise non-vegan ingredient information that seems to crop up every once in a while.

There is a reason why my post about frappucinos averages the most popular on my blog; it's because vegans are obsessively trying to determine the veganity of Starbucks' products.  But, although many vegans love Starbucks, Starbucks couldn't care less about accommodating them.  And, worse, we know it.  But, for some reason, we seem intent on exerting our considerable consumer effort in order to continue consuming their questionably vegan products.  Is it the taste?  The ubiquitous cup?  Exactly what makes us try so hard to patronize an establishment that is consistently disrespectful of our needs and, for that matter, that of any other dietary restriction?  In an increasingly aware society, why does Starbucks get away with being so blatantly disingenuous?

Their ingredient information is not at all transparent; rather, it's often unavailable or incomplete.  And, it would seem, they don't have a problem with that.  For such a considerable chain, their staff remains consistently uninformed about allergens and often exhibits hostility when such an inquiry is made.  The website suggests you discuss it with the baristas, the store's staff tell you to contact Customer's a purposefully frustrating circle of incorrect, incomplete, or non-existent information- intent on offering no final resolution.

Perhaps their egregious disinterest is best exemplified by the response I recently received from their Customer Service department when inquiring as to the increasing difficulty in ascertaining the ingredients of their product offerings:

"Greetings Abby!
Thank you for contacting Starbucks.

While we understand that some customers may have a need to know specific ingredient information prior to consuming a product, unfortunately we are unable to provide more in-depth information than what is currently available in the ingredient statement [I have no idea what this is or where it can be found]. If there are concerns about this product possibly containing an ingredient derived from a source that you do not wish to consume, we would recommend that product not be consumed.

Thanks again for writing us. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don't hesitate to get in touch [presumably so that they can be equally as obtuse].

Elizabeth R
customer service"
Is it just me, or does this loosely translate to, "We don't make specific ingredient information available; if you don't like it, don't eat/drink it"?

See for yourself:
questions about Starbucks ingredients 1-800-235-2883
Starbucks customer service 1-800-782-7282


  1. I've been fighting the man for years! Literally every night of the first two years of grad school I "occupied" StarBucks for several hours without making a single purchase! I also took advantage of their free bathroom and wifi!

  2. If you choose to boycott them, you can always depend on a big delicious apple for energy! They've been proven to be a better stimulant than coffee anyway!

  3. Pretty crappy of them. I've known a couple people who have worked there and seemed pretty happy but they certainly aren't the most consumer-friendly place.
    Haha, I'm with Anonymous - I prefer not to give huge corporations like that my money anyway. It would be nice if they offered ingredient information for people who can't get coffee elsewhere but it's probably best to not even deal with them.

  4. I think your interpretation is spot on. Clearly they want you to obtain your caffeine elsewhere.

  5. I think we patronize them because they are the only chain to carry soy milk that I know of. But now I may have to boycott them. I can't deal with some corporate moron acting like in this economy they don't need the business. Imagine if every restaurant said "if you don't like it, don't eat it" ? The fast food industry tried it when nyc forced them to release nutritionals and now they are bringing in "healthier" items because sales dropped. I'm going to spread the word on this. Vegan or Not if starbucks doesn't want to list ingredients fully no one who cares about what they eat should support them. Apologies if there are a million errors in this, I don't have my glasses on.

  6. as one of the vilest corporations on the planet, i'll never go to a starbucks whether they have vegan beverages or not.

  7. After re-reading the email, I've decided it best translates as, "Expect the worst."

  8. Update: When I further inquired about the "ingredient statement", I was given a link to a page of drink descriptions.


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