By John Di Leonardo
On February 14th, the United States celebrates Valentine’s Day, an annual celebration of love and romance.
Because Starbucks agrees that animal-friendly vegan milks are better for the planet than dairy milk but insists on charging extra for them, my partner and I will be intercepting would-be customers with free RISE Brewing Co. vegan lattes made with creamy oat milk as well as dairy-free chocolates. In total, we will be distributing 600 vegan coffee lattes across Long Island, making it easy for coffee lovers to show love for cows, the environment, and their partners by kissing dairy goodbye this Valentine’s Day.
Starbucks claims to be environmentally friendly—but farmed animals, including those on dairy farms produce hundreds of millions of tons of manure each year, much of which ends up in waterways and drinking water. Animal agriculture is also responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined.
A large portion of the world is lactose-intolerant. And even those who aren’t can benefit from ditching dairy. Research shows that those who regularly consume fatty, cholesterol-laden foods, like dairy are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Due to the fact that dairy is high in fat, consuming large amounts of dairy products can increase cholesterol and blood pressure levels, literally breaking hearts and reducing blood to all organs, contributing to impotence. While cholesterol is only found in animal-derived foods, fruits, vegetables, grains and all other plant foods do not have any cholesterol at all. In addition to reducing the risk of impotence, plant-powered eating slashes the risk of heart disease by a whopping 52%, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Each person who goes vegan spares nearly 200 animals—including baby bulls who are torn from their mothers and killed for leather or veal because they cannot produce milk. Mother cows, who must be kept in a cycle of pregnancy and birth in order to produce milk, are violently inseminated on what the dairy industry itself refers to as a “rape rack.” A mother cow will bellow for her calf for days after the baby is taken from her. After just a fraction of her natural lifespan, the cow will be “spent,” unable to meet milk quotas, and will be forced onto a crowded truck to the slaughterhouse, where, weakened from her existence in a factory-like environment and the traumatic journey in all weather, her legs may buckle beneath her, preventing her from walking to her own death.
No one should be penalized for choosing a healthier option that doesn’t support animal abuse and is better for the planet, but individuals don’t have to wait on the government or on companies like Starbucks to do the right thing. We can make powerful changes right now by going vegan, which reduces your diet’s carbon footprint by 70% and saves the lives of animals.
For this week’s Anuvrat, I urge you to practice Ahimsa by ditching dairy in favor of plant-based milks like coconut, soy, almond, hemp, or oat. You can also contact Starbucks and urge them to encourage customers to choose animal-friendly, vegan milks that are better for animals, their health, and the environment instead of penalizing them with a vegan surcharge by visiting www.PETA.org/Starbucks.
John Di Leonardo is the founding director of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION). He was previously the Senior Manager of Grassroots Campaigns and Animals in Entertainment Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has a Master’s degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. He also earned a graduate certificate in Jain Studies from the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. John can be reached at [email protected].