This week, fast-casual chain Panera Bread announced that it would no longer add a surcharge for substituting plant-based milk in place of dairy. The change comes after discussions with animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “Panera Bread is helping its customers hit back against an industry that treats sensitive cows as nothing more than milk machines and spews out contaminants that are heating up our planet,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA is calling on Starbucks, which is still penalizing people for opting for eco- and animal-friendly vegan milk, to follow Panera’s progressive lead.” In January, Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary revealed that in coming years, Panera aims to reduce the amount of meat it serves with the goal of offering a menu that is comprised of 50 percent plant-based options. “As consumer desire for non-dairy milks has increased, and in line with our recent commitment to expanding our plant-based offerings, Panera is proud to now offer non-dairy milk free of charge for both self-serve coffee and espresso drinks,” Sara Burnett, Vice President of Wellness and Food Policy at Panera, told VegNews. “We believe plant-based alternatives can meet the growing demand for wholesome, delicious options that are good for people and planet.” While Starbucks has yet to drop its additional charges for vegan milk substitutions, the chain’s CEO Kevin Johnson is also planning to encourage more customers to shift away from animal-derived dairy, the largest driver of the chain’s carbon footprint.
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