Latte Art

Making Dairy an All or Nothing Battle

No Milk at StarbucksStarbucks is making a statement. Again. Dairy is on the way out. In the interest of making making itself an earth-friendly enterprise, Starbucks will be pushing people toward plant milks.

So twitter lit up immediately.

Who Are They Kidding?

Whoever thought this up is, “quite frankly, as incorrect as anyone possibly could be,” said RD Cara Harbstreet in a tweet. Others see major disruptions that will harm small farmers:

This will bankrupt small family sized dairy farms before large scale ones. These are individuals who care for their animals, care for their consumer, and need this to put food on their table for their families.

The cross-currents of philosophical food battles are cruel. Thus, small producers often find themselves in a bind.

Amazing Time to Be a Vegan

Vegans are a small, but fierce tribe. Dairy is one of many bad actors they see in our food supply. So they were overjoyed with this news. Mooshortie captured the feeling in a tweet:

Starbucks is actually going dairy free? Like, is this real life? Am I really witnessing the downfall of big dairy? Absolutely amazing time to be a vegan.

She had to walk it back, though. That’s because the chain won’t be totally eliminating dairy, even though it will be pushing plant-based milks. It wants good vibes with vegans, but can’t afford to alienate people who still prefer real milk.

Tribal Zeal

It’s little wonder that veganism qualifies as something like a religion in the U.K. The zeal of true believers is astounding. It pops up and infiltrates policymaking in ways that can obscure objective facts. Likewise, the enthusiasm for real, whole food like meat and dairy comes into play. Clashes are inevitable. Respect for diverse thinking fades away.

But the bottom line is this. Many different ways to eat can be both healthy and sustainable. Righteous zeal might feel good, but it’s often tribal, exclusionary, and destructive. The joy of food comes from its great diversity.

Click here for more on the sustainability challenges facing Starbucks.

Latte Art, photograph © Jonathan Cohen / flickr

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February 1, 2020

One Response to “Making Dairy an All or Nothing Battle”

  1. February 01, 2020 at 8:23 am, Al said:

    When I taught economics, I would tell the kids, “the answer is never all or nothing.” This would be a perfect example of what happens to people who didn’t take my class.