This month, international coffee chain Starbucks added two new meatless sandwiches made with Beyond Meat products to its more than 200 locations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. The new sandwiches are Beyond Meat Beyond Meat Triple Cheese Wrap and Beyond Meatball Arabian Ciabatta, both of which are not vegan-friendly due to the inclusion of dairy.
“Starbucks is always looking to develop new and exciting products for our customers who want to eat more plant-rich foods,” Rana Shaheen, Regional Communications and CSR Manager for Starbucks Coffee Middle East and North Africa, said. “We will continue to innovate our food and beverage menu, offering greater variation and more delicious plant-based choices, as we work towards becoming a resource positive company.”
Starbucks locations in the UAE and Kuwait currently offer a variety of plant-based milks, including soy, oat, and almond, as well as vegan Pumpkin Spice Lattes (the base of which Starbucks reformulated to be dairy-free in other locations, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Austria in 2018).
Starbucks’ plant-based shift
A report released in 2020 revealed that dairy is responsible for the largest portion of Starbucks’ carbon footprint, driving 21 percent of the 15.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases emitted in 2018 by the more than 31,000 Starbucks outlets worldwide. In response to the report, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson explained that plant-based milks will be “a big part of the solution” as the chain moves toward more sustainable practices to clean up its carbon footprint. Since then, Starbucks has launched a variety of plant-based options worldwide to help it meet its sustainability goals, including vegan whipped cream and four vegan sandwiches (some made with Beyond Meat) in the UK and menu items featuring vegan brands Beyond Meat, Oatly, and Omnipork at its more than 4,200 locations in China.
Vegan at Starbucks in the US
Stateside, the chain already offers a variety of vegan milks and will be launching oat milk nationwide this spring. In the food department, Starbucks launched the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich—which cannot be ordered vegan as it is pre-made with dairy and eggs—nationwide in June. To take it a step further, in October, Starbucks began testing several all-vegan food options at one location in Issaquah, WA, including the Plant Powered Breakfast Sandwich (made with a mung bean-based egg, a plant-based sausage patty, dairy-free cheese, and served on an English muffin). Earlier this month, Starbucks expanded the fully vegan sandwich to test locations in the Dallas, TX area, where the chain is also testing additional vegan options, namely Pineapple Coconut Green Smoothie (made with coconut milk); Raspberry, Walnut & Oat Nut Square; and Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie.