At the Starbucks annual shareholder meeting held on Wednesday, Chief Operations Officer Rosalind Brewer announced the coffee chain’s new plan to offer vegan and plant-based meals. While some of Starbucks’ signature beverages continue to be a chemical nightmare, at least the food will soon be derived from nature.
The move is a direct response to a campaign launched by animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing (COK). Ahead of the shareholder meeting, COK launched a series of ads in the Seattle area that linked to a petition featuring journalist and animal rights activist Jane Velez-Mitchell. The activist organization arrived to Starbucks’ shareholder meeting with a stack of 30,000 signatures.
“Starbucks brightened our mornings when it became one of the first national coffee chains to pour out non-dairy milks,” COK representative and Starbucks shareholder Jonathan Rosenberry said in the meeting. “But millions of consumers are seeking hearty plant-based foods to enjoy with their coffee, and that’s where Starbucks’ menu still doesn’t live up to the buzz.”
The coffeehouse giant has been rolling out vegan options since 2015, but these offerings mostly consist of plant-based milks and a few snacks. Rosenberry said he wanted to see full-meal options offered at Starbucks franchises across the country.
Starbucks hasn’t specified when these full-meal vegan options will be made available, but if the company makes good on its promise, it will enter an already booming market. Sales of plant-based food in the US went up by 8.1 percent in 2017, according to research carried out by Nielsen for the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute. A separate study from Allied Market Research suggests that the global meat substitutes market can expect a revenue of $5.2 billion by 2020.
If fast food chains like White Castle can offer not one but two vegan burgers, Starbucks looks behind on the times. Now with 30,000 signatures on its desk, the company is poised to give vegans a full menu.