Strawberry Starbucks Drinks Aren’t Vegan Options Anymore

by Danielle Gillette

Starbucks-frequenting vegans may be upset to learn this week that the company’s Strawberries & Crème Frappucino and Strawberry Smoothies are no longer vegan-friendly menu options.

It used to be that if you ordered these drinks made with soy milk they were vegan, but as Daelyn Fortney revealed on This Dish is Veg, that is no longer the case. An anonymous Starbucks barista sent in photos of the new strawberry sauce ingredients list, which now includes “cochineal extract,” a dye made from dried female cochineal insects.

Starbucks Strawberries and Cream

Photo: Schtumple Flicker/CC

If your first response is “gross,” first of all, you aren’t alone- that was my reaction too.

But don’t worry, the dye is FDA approved and, according to the ABC news report on the subject, it’s used across the food industry:

Cochineal is considered safe by the FDA, and is widely used for coloration in jams, preserves, meat, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products, cookies, cheddar cheese and many other food products.

The ingredient change was made by Starbucks earlier this year in an effort to cut out more artificial ingredients from its products. Fortney has started an online petition to get Starbucks to stop using the cochineal extract, and as of today (3/29) it has over 3,000 signatures.

Hopefully some kind of compromise can be reached; Fortney actually suggests several plant-based dye alternatives in her petition. Even in my limited experiences with veganism, I’ve had trouble finding things that were okay to eat. It must be hard on “full-time” vegans when ingredients change without warning to include animal products.

If there are any vegans or vegetarians reading this, how do you feel about Starbucks’ new ingredient?

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