Updated April 19, 2019. The biggest coffee chain in the world, Starbucks, has upped its vegan game recently, adding more plant-based food and drink options than ever before.
The move is in response to consumer demand. In the last few years, more people have learned of the health, ethical, and environmental benefits of steering away from animal products.
Nearly half of U.S. consumers now regularly purchase vegan milk, according to a study from January, and 114 million Americans intend to purchase more vegan food than ever this year, primarily for health reasons. In the UK, Brits are continuously choosing plant-based options over animal-based ones. In fact, a study by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s revealed that 91 percent of UK consumers identify as flexitarian.
The story isn’t unique, it’s the same in many countries around the globe, with meat and dairy-free products becoming bigger business than ever. Starbucks knows this; last year, at the Seeds and Chips global food conference in Milan, founder Howard Schultz said, “the opportunity for plant-based food is huge.”
Starbucks Vegan Options Across the Globe
Earlier this year, in the UK, the chain added vegan mac ‘n’ cheese and an all-day breakfast burrito to its shelves, this was followed by the launch of vegan butter cakes. In Portugal, in February, it launched new vegan cakes and sandwiches; in the Phillippines, it recently launched decadent vegan chocolate cakes, and in Canada, dairy-free sesame lattes. South Korean customers also have vegan options, including cake and focaccia.
In the U.S., the chain offers almond, coconut, and soy milk, and most recently, it launched oat in select locations. At the moment, dairy-free swaps cost extra, but the chain did recently make improvements to its loyalty scheme, meaning that customers who hold a loyalty card can add vegan milk free of charge if they have earned 15 points (or “Stars”).
“We know that with loyalty programs, people like to have different options for redeeming,” said Matt Ryan, the chief marketing officer at Starbucks. “Depending on what you want, in as little as two or three visits, you can have it.”
The chain doesn’t just reserve its dairy-free and vegan options for its own stores. In Target, U.S. consumers can buy almond milk Starbucks frappuccinos, and in the UK, Asda customers can also sip on dairy-free iced coffee with almond milk.
The Importance of Sustainability
Starbucks knows there’s more to sustainability than offering vegan options. In September, it took steps to reduce its carbon footprint by announcing that by 2025, it aims to run 10,000 stores on renewable energy. It made the announcement to a crowd of 4,000 people at the Global Climate Action Summit last year.
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ chief executive officer, spoke on a conference panel at the event. He said, “If you look at this problem on a global basis, it can be so overwhelming it’s discouraging. The only way to look at this problem is, ‘am I partnering with other like-minded organizations in the public and private sectors and NGOs to work progress?'”
He explained that although Starbucks is, of course, about turning a profit. It’s “also about doing what’s right.” He continued, “One of our social impact pillars is sustainability. We are a company that believes, in the fabric of mission and values, that the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good.”
Recycling and Fighting Plastic Pollution
The chain has also debunked the myth that paper coffee cups can’t be recycled. Last year, it managed to recycle 25 million coffee cups after sending 18 truckloads to Sustana, a paper mill in Wisconsin to “make a point,” according to Fast Company. Jay Hunsberger, the VP of sales for North America for Sustana, told the publication that Starbucks wanted to “demonstrate that a coffee cup can be turned back into a coffee cup.”
Starbucks is also on a mission to do what it can to combat plastic pollution. Last summer, it revealed its decision to eliminate straws from all of its stores, replacing them with lids for cold cups, similar to the design it uses for its hot beverages.
The impact of this decision is huge; the chain has more than 28,000 stores across the globe, and removing straws means that one billion fewer of the single-use plastic product will be produced every year.
Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program praised the company’s move. Director Nicholas Mallos said, “Starbuck’s decision to phase out single-use plastic straws is a shining example of the important role that companies can play in stemming the tide of ocean plastic. With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, we cannot afford to let industry sit on the sidelines.”
17 Vegan Options at Starbucks
So, with all of this in mind, if you’re planning on taking a trip to Starbucks anytime soon, what can you eat while you’re there? Here are 17 vegan food and drink options that could be available to you.
1. Lentils & Vegetable Protein Bowl with Brown Rice
Packed with 23 grams of protein, this bowl — filled with lentils, butternut squash, roasted tomatoes, and sunflower seeds — is one for when you’re craving something super healthy, or you just fancy something light and flavorsome. The bowl is currently available in the U.S.
2. Vegan Superberry Açaí
Consumers in the U.S. can start their day off right with the vegan Superberry Açaí. Starbucks notes it is “a smooth fruit puree of blueberry, banana, raspberry, apple, and açaí is a beautiful contrast to a crunchy topping of granola, toasted coconut, and snappy pepitas.”
3. Vegan Mac
Lucky customers in the UK can enjoy a vegan macaroni cheese in Starbucks locations throughout the country. According to the chain, it features butternut squash sauce and spinach, with a parsley crumb.
4. Vegan Beetroot Wrap
The Vegan Beetroot Wrap, available in UK stores, features a beetroot and chia wrap, as the name suggests. It’s packed with butternut squash, spinach, roasted, red peppers, black turtle beans, sweetcorn, coriander, and chipotle.
5. Vegan Roasted Vegetable Salad
As the name indicates, this salad — available in the UK — is packed with roasted veggies, including sweet potato, spiced cauliflower, and red cabbage. It also features spinach and mixed grains, with a drizzle of chipotle dressing.
6. Vegan All Day Breakfast Burrito
UK customers really are spoilt for choice. This Vegan All Day Breakfast Burrito is the perfect dish to get you going in the morning. It’s packed with smoked scrambled tofu, tomatoes, chipotle beans, spinach, and mushrooms.
7. Vegan Butter Bars
Again in the UK, customers looking for a little treat can buy one of Starbucks’ newest vegan offerings, an almond or pistachio butter bar, each with dark chocolate and a coconut biscuit base.
8. Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Cake
This indulgent vegan cake is like a chocolate and raspberry sandwich, topped off with dried raspberries. It’s available in a number of stores around the globe, including UK locations and in Portugal.
9. Dairy-Free Milk
Around the globe, many of Starbucks’ lattes, cappuccinos, and specialty drinks can be made vegan by adding dairy-free milk. Options depend on which location you’re in but range from soy to coconut to oat. In India, almond milk was recently added to the menu, before this, Indian locations only served soy.
10. Double Decker Peanut & Jelly Sandwich
Available in stores in the Philippines, the Double Decker Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich was launched earlier this year. It features three slices of vegan french toast, layered with creamy peanut butter, with added strawberry and blueberry jelly.
11. Sinless Chocolate Cake
The Sinless Chocolate Cake also hit stores in the Philippines earlier this year. The chocolate sponge is layered with avocado chocolate and raspberry filling and topped off with chocolate frosting and cocoa nibs.
Starbucks offers oatmeal in many of its locations around the world, and you guessed it, it can be made vegan. Just make sure you tell the barista serving you you’d like it without dairy milk. Depending on which country you’re in, you have the option of Blueberry Oatmeal and Five Grain Oatmeal too.
If you’re just looking for a coffee and a quick, tasty, healthy snack to see you through the afternoon, in U.S. locations, you could grab a bag of Hippeas. The Leonardo Dicaprio-backed brand makes protein-packed dairy-free cheese puffs in an assortment of flavors, including Vegan White Cheddar.
14. Deliciously Ella Cacao Energy Balls
Deliciously Ella’s Cacao Energy Balls are great for those days when you just need a pick me up. Available in UK stores, they’re organic, natural, and only made from six ingredients: almond, almond butter, dates, coconut oil, cacao powder, and a pinch of salt.
15. Dark Cacao Macaroons
U.S. Starbucks stores offer these dark cacao coconutty macaroons by Emmy’s. The gluten-free snacks compliment an indulgent coffee perfectly.
16. Fruit Salad
If you want to keep it simple and healthy, Starbucks stores around the world offer fresh fruits in salad form or simply as they come. Grab a coffee and a banana on your way to work to make sure you’re ready to take on the day.
17. Packets of Nuts
Just like fresh fruit, packets of almonds and cashews are available in a number of Starbucks stores. One for those days when you don’t want any fuss.