A group of protesters stepped into boots embedded in concrete outside a Nashville Starbucks on Thursday, blocking the shop’s entrances and exits and waving signs to “end the vegan upcharge” on plant-based milks.
The campaign — meant to emphasize that protesters won’t budge from efforts to stop the Seattle-based coffee giant charging extra for non-dairy milk options — kicked off this summer when participants superglued their hands to Starbucks counters in Chicago, New York City and Seattle.
The Nashville protest, in which the participants were arrested, shut down an entire street at West End Avenue, drawing over a dozen police cars, according to a WSMV4 report.
One protester was taken to the hospital due to foot pain from the cement, according to the report. The protesters used rubber boots that they could apparently step out of when the police asked them to leave, but one protester reportedly had to be taken to the hospital for foot pain.
Another — Daniel Bifano of Michigan — refused to leave his block of cement and was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass, according to the report.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says Sir Paul McCartney has endorsed its tactics and sent letters to Starbucks honchos to “drop the upcharge,” according to a press release.
“My friends at PETA are campaigning for this,” McCartney wrote in the letter, first published on Billboard.com. “I sincerely hope that for the future of the planet and animal welfare you are able to implement this policy.”
Starbucks, which is under siege from its own employees who have unionized or filed documents to organize hundreds of stores across the country, said in a statement, “We respect our customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions as long as it does not disrupt our store operations.”
The company also said customers can add a “splash” of its alternative milks to their drinks for free but that it charges an additional fee for more than a splash. The upcharge amounts to about 50 cents to $1.
“Adding a splash of any alt-milk to Brewed Coffee, Iced Coffee, Cold Brew and Americano beverages is offered free of charge,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.
PETA said the upcharge is non-negotiable.
On Thursday protesters called on the company to “stop penalizing people who are concerned for cows, the environment, and their own health by charging extra for plant-based milks.”
“Cows used for dairy are forcibly inseminated (raped)—workers insert an arm into the cow’s rectum and a metal rod to deliver semen into her vagina—and their beloved calves are torn away from them so that the milk meant to nourish their babies can be used by humans,” the group said in a statement.