As anyone who frequently visits a Starbucks knows, we now have instant coffee. Actually, it’s not instant, it’s ready in an instant. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that. That’s what months of corporate brainwashing will do. I kid, I kid (I don’t want to be fired). It’s called VIA. When summer rolled around we launched a new Iced VIA that was sweetened with sugar. And anyone who’s read my previous articles about Starbucks probably knows where this is going.
So a natural thought that would come to someone like me would be, “I wonder if this sugar is vegan.” Now that may sound like a silly question to most people. You might think, “Doesn’t sugar come from a plant?” Well, yes. But that’s not good enough. At least not for the corporate giants who need something to do with their leftover cow skulls and bones. In one last effort to squeeze as much money from the carcass of the animal they exploit, they ship off the remains to select charcoal manufacturers who in turn ship them to sugar companies. What do they do with these skeletal remains? They use them in refining sugar. Something they call “bone char” or now “natural charcoal.”
Do they have to use them? No. The main reason bone filters are used is to make the sugar white in color. Most people equate white with “pure”, and bone char makes that happen. It’s quite amazing what we try to convince ourselves of, even when it’s unnecessary. However, bone char/natural charcoal is prohibited in the production of USDA certified organic sugar. Another reason organic is better. But back to the main story…
After talking to my manager about the reasons why I would not try the new Iced VIA, or the yet to be released flavored VIA, he assured me we would get some answers. Being very supportive, he e-mailed our District Manager. Who in turn e-mailed our Director of Operations. Who then followed through with someone with corporate. Which then filtered back down to me. The answer? “They’re reluctant to call anything “vegan.” To me, this just seems like a bureaucratic way of saying “no”. Of course they don’t want to put a label on anything. God forbid some angry vegan sue Starbucks because they found out their product wasn’t really vegan. Which I’m sure is what it comes down to. Starbucks doesn’t want a million dollar lawsuit. Meanwhile, I just want to know how my food is processed. Someone has the answer. Is that too much to ask?