How Vegan is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?

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How Vegan is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Everything is nice, except the milk that's in it.

Fall is quickly approaching.  The leaves are falling, the air is starting to get cooler, kids are going back to school, and pumpkins come into season.  And with that comes Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I’ve written about the latte in 2009 before in Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products, which has consistently been one of our most-read posts- particularly this time of year.  So I thought I’d update it.

In 2009 the ingredients for the Pumpkin Spice Latte were as follows:

Sugar, condensed nonfat milk, sweet condensed nonfat milk, annatto (a colorant), natural and artificial flavors (which she couldn’t give me), and caramel coloring.

I called Starbucks customer service today and got the ingredients for the 2011 version of the beverage, which is:

Sugar, condensed nonfat milk, sweet condensed nonfat milk, anotta (a colorant), natural and artificial flavors (which she couldn’t give me), and caramel coloring.  The customer service rep also gave me the basic spice flavor profile:  Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

So, the 2011 Pumpkin Spice Latte made with soymilk and no whip is not vegan.

I said it before but it bears repeating:

It is a valuable lesson in what I like to call, “veganomics”.  Always check the ingredients, never assume, and don’t be afraid to express disappointment that the offerings aren’t vegan.  The more we speak up on the issue of hidden animal products in our foods and beverages, the more people will hear.  The more people that hear, the more people think.  And the thinking leads to education, which finally leads to self morals and ethics.  So in a round about way, telling Starbucks you love the Pumpkin Spice Latte – but won’t buy it because of it’s hidden dairy products – can lead to others discovery of animal cruelty.

So listen up Starbucks, vegans would like to drink your Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Quit adding the crap like condensed milk and please start serving up some vegan lattes.  You’ve made great strides already by offering up vegan fare.  Let’s keep the momentum going and get a full menu that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy, and let’s leave the animals (alone) off of it.

PS Starbucks: Your customer service representative was super nice on the phone.  I appreciate how she went the extra mile to help me get an ingredient list.  Bravo!  I only wish she had told me her name.

September 6th, 2011|Lifestyle|

About the Author:

Founder & Creator of Your Daily Vegan. Twitter: @YourDailyVegan

48 Comments

  1. Mhey September 14, 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

    “Love this! Recently tried the fresh pumpkin spice from RawSpiceBar to make a few fall inspired recipes and it was definitely worth trying!”
    https://rawspicebar.com/product/pumpkin-pie-spice/

  2. Lauren October 5, 2015 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I’m so mad! When my mom was at Starbucks, she called me and asked if I wanted a pumpkin spice latte. According to the workers there, it is completely vegan. Lies lies lies. She already bought it and brought it home and I felt so bad to deny it. And I’m sick right now. So angry.

  3. […] Foto’s: starbucks pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice is nice […]

  4. christine sanders September 14, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Do you have any information on Panera’s pumpkin spice?

  5. Saira June 23, 2014 at 11:09 am - Reply

    How heartbreaking…
    I love the Pumpkin Spice Latte and was looking forward for fall start already just because of it…
    How can we request for Starbucks to make this beverage vegan friendly??

  6. […] now. I also heard that Starbucks is bringing out their Pumpkin Spice Latte today (is that true?!?)SourceWhile I may still be wearing my summer clothes and sweating it out on my bikemy house will smell […]

  7. […] Image Source […]

  8. […] The Pumpkin Spice Latte really hit the spot, especially on the grey and dreary fall day we were having, and I’d recommend you give it a try, especially if you were one of the folks sad to hear that Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes aren’t vegan. […]

  9. Eric September 18, 2013 at 8:58 am - Reply

    I’m surprised that Starbucks hasn’t made a vegan/dairy-free option. I’m assuming next year will be a different story, there seems to be enough of a demand (i.e. there’s money to be made).
    We’re not vegan, but my wife is intolerant of dairy and eggs, so vegan options are welcomed when we try to navigate menus. That being said, most things we make at home for cheaper. And this way we are getting closer to 100% sure of what goes into our concoctions. Here’s a vegan/soy-free version of the latte: http://therealfoodguide.com/homemade-pumpkin-spice-latte-recipe/. I like the flavour of pumpkin spice, but I’m not going out of my way to make a latte on a daily basis, but it was pretty awesome anyways.
    Now I need to find a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free version of a pumpkin pie. Now that’s something worth the time and effort (and that I would be willing to eat on a daily basis) :).
    Cheers, Eric

  10. Tuscadero September 12, 2013 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I have an allergic reaction to casein (protein in milk). I also assumed that a PSL with soy and no whip was safe and I’ve been enjoying a sore throat and itchy eyes and skin for 4 days since I had my latte. I had no idea why. Thanks for the heads up. Starbucks should post a warning before someone with a more severe reaction makes the same mistake.

  11. Steph September 12, 2013 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Me and a girl from work who cannot have dairy at all read through the ingredients of the Via Pumpkin Spice and did not notice any dairy/vegan unfriendly products? Did we miss something? She mixes hers with almond milk. Just a Suggestion.

  12. Enna October 18, 2012 at 4:15 am - Reply

    When trying to right-click to open in a new tab I got an abrupt message scolding me for trying to print…how rude!

    • KD October 18, 2012 at 11:31 am - Reply

      @Enna Actually, it’s not rude at all. Copy & Pasting from this site is not permitted to protect our work from being stolen or used without proper credit back to Your Daily Vegan. If you would like to share something from this site, please use the share buttons at the end of each post :)

  13. Day 8 « Made For Real October 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    […] top image source ————— […]

  14. […] nice.” I first googled autumn trees and found the background and decided I had to involve pumpkin spice in there some where. Then, for my ad/poster, I pretty much plunked everything on the same picture […]

  15. Rhonda October 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    I know it’s not the same, but if you brew a half pot of coffee at home, add a 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the dry coffee grounds (on spice aisle) and put a teaspoon of vanilla flavor in the empty pot, then brew… it’s very, very close in flavor and the spices are perfect without missing the fake pumpkin flavor that Starbucks uses. If you love their Pumpkin Spice Latte, then this is honestly the next best thing. It’s vegan with no added fat/calories. I add sweetener and some creamer to taste but the spice flavor is alllll there at about .20 cents a cup :)

  16. Chelsy September 21, 2012 at 8:17 am - Reply

    I contacted Starbucks and have posted our e-mail conversation below:

    Me: Much to my disappointment, I recently heard that the Pumpkin Spice Latte contained milk products even when ordered with Soymilk and no Whipped Cream. I would like to know the ingredients of the Pumpkin Spice Latte when ordered with Soymilk and No Whipped Cream. I love Starbucks and look forward to this time of year when this delicious liquid heaven is brought into stores. I am a vegan and would love to continue to be able to enjoy this drink.Thank you.

    Starbucks: Sorry to hear about your previous disappointment. The Pumpkin Spice Latte contains, Espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup and soy milk. Topped pumpkin pie spices

    Me: Can you tell me the ingredients of the pumpkin-flavored syrup? If orderd with soymilk and without whipped cream, would the Pumpkin Spice Latte be considered Vegan (contains no animal products)?

    Starbucks: While we understand that some customers may have a need to know specific ingredient information prior to consuming a product, unfortunately we are unable to provide more in-depth information than what is currently available in the ingredient statement. If there are concerns about this product possibly containing an ingredient derived from a source that you do not wish to consume, we would recommend that product not be consumed.

    So Starbucks recommends that I do not consume their products if I have ‘concerns about [the] product possibly containing an ingredient derived from a source that [I] do not wish to consume. Thank you Starbucks for enlightening me on your customer service practices and I believe this is goodbye.

  17. […] primarily with everything but pumpkin. When I read about the truth of the Pumpkin Spice Latte on Your Daily Vegan Blog, I was heartbroken. I look forward to making the Pumpkin Spice Latte my once in a blue moon treat […]

  18. Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte « learningfood September 16, 2012 at 10:19 am - Reply

    […] The article about how the Starbucks PSL is not vegan: It’s Not Vegan The original vegan PSL recipe I worked from (check out this blog, the recipes are great!): Blog […]

  19. […] drink (spoiler: it’s not vegan), and they actually called Starbucks corporate to find out. Here is the link to their article. Also, here is the list of […]

  20. David September 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Those of us who are milk free, like myself, want this so badly. I am not vegan but because of my digestive system, I have almost become one. Being milk free is hard and I hope that Starbucks hears our cry.

  21. lolapineapple December 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    The pumpkin spice latte is totally vegan if you order it with soy milk and no whip cream.

    • KD December 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      @Lolapineapple No, it isn’t.

  22. I Eat Grass November 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    […] but if I want a pumpkin latte, I usually have to make it myself, as Starbucks’ version is full o’ dairy. Boo, […]

  23. Liz October 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    it’s that time of year again where i find my self mysteriously drawn to squash-flavored beverage offerings. grabbed a starbucks americano with pumpkin spice syrup while shopping at target today and had to wonder at the milky shade it turned. having gone dairy free just after thanksgiving last year it never occurred to me that the stuff might be lurking in a seemingly innocent syrup but the shade immediately brought to mind condensed milk. thanks for doing all the leg work into verifying this one for me!

  24. New Kid on the Vegan Block October 3, 2011 at 7:28 am - Reply

    […] was a sad day when I found out the  Starbucks pumpkin spice latte is not vegan – even when made with soy milk – but what can you do?  In addition to regular pumpkin […]

  25. The Bitter Gnome September 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    […] latte frappacino. Halloween may now resume on schedule. I was rather distressed to find out that Starbucks’s was not vegan even when made with […]

  26. Happy Fall! « Jenny B. September 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    […] via/Starbucks […]

  27. Jessica September 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Jackie, you’re not vegan are you? Please don’t tell vegans that “A little bit of non-fat milk isn’t going to kill you”. We all have our reasons for avoiding animal products in all forms and statements like that usually aren’t appreciated. I’m not vegan because I don’t want to eat dead animals, I’m boycotting anything that was produced at the cost of an animal’s freedom and welfare. Have you SEEN videos of milk factories? Not pretty. Just sayin’

  28. Jackie September 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    A little bit of non-fat milk isn’t going to kill you, especially if you enjoy it. It’s not like they slaughtered the cow for milk. It’s like breast feeding your baby. I didn’t die when my son sucked milk from my tits.

    • Ali September 5, 2017 at 6:44 am - Reply

      It might if you have a dairy allergy.

  29. clumsyhappyandactive September 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    […] guess what? The syrup used in the heavenly Pumpkin Spice Latte is NOT vegan which I learned from yourdailyvegan.com. So even a with soy milk it is not in my current diet. […]

  30. Maggie September 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this, close call! I appreciate all the info on here, it is really helping me out as a start my newly vegan diet. :)

  31. Stacey S. September 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the time you put into this and the update so I didn’t have to.

  32. G September 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    SO DISAPPOINTED!! I’ve been looking forward to this coffee all day hoping to get it this evening :( So lame.

  33. Sara September 11, 2011 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Check out http://www.peasandthankyou.com She has a vegan pumpkin spice latte that I think is better than SB.

  34. Liz September 10, 2011 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Also is there a way that Starbucks can offer something other than soy milk? Soy is not even the best of the choices for vegan milks..what about almond, or better yet coconut…hmmmm….now coconut milk I could start visiting Starbucks again for…

  35. Veggie V! @Veggie V's Vegan Adventure September 9, 2011 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I read this earlier this week and was shocked! I assumed the drink was just made of syrups and milk, so subbing soy and leaving off the would make it vegan. (I wouldn’t drink it because of the sugar/calories, but still, c’mon SB!)Guess we know what happens when you ASS-U-ME…*sigh*

  36. Melissa September 8, 2011 at 8:52 am - Reply

    This is all interesting given an incident I had at Starbucks a couple months ago. I asked my barrista if a drink could be made vegan, and he replied, “Actually, nothing here is vegan. Sorry, a girl came in earlier asking what was vegan here and we had to tell her nothing is.” When I suggested that he didn’t know what vegan was, since there are actually many items (black coffee for starters) that are vegan, he insisted that he had “called corporate” and confirmed that Starbucks doesn’t have anything vegan at all. I was aghast by this response, since I’ve checked with Starbucks’ corporate offices myself several times to check the veganness of items and felt like there were several decent products to choose from. I wrote an e-mail to Starbucks to ask them to provide better training to their employees, and I received this very lame reply from “Melissa E” in Starbucks Customer Relations: “I do apologize, due to cross contamination we can not guarantee anything to be Vegan. I sincerely appreciate your comments and hope you will continue to enjoy Starbucks coffee.”

    Net, I hope they develop more vegan options… but I think they still need some improvements to the way they are currently treating their vegan customers.

  37. Jessy September 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I bought about $100 worth of this stuff last year, foolishly assuming that because other syrups at Starbucks were vegan, the pumpkin spice one would be as well. This year, Starbucks and I both lose. Get better.

  38. Fallon September 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m a new vegan who works for Starbucks and I’m always trying to compile a list for any Vegans who might be stopping by. I have similar problems about the time it takes to reach headquarters, but E-mail seems to be the best way. I actually JUST had this conversation with one of my co-workers and I’m glad you’re bringing attention to it! Thanks for keeping us updated with information on some of the most popular treats! Keep up the good work.

  39. Kathryn September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the info.

    Isn’t that “annatto” rather than “anota”?

    • KD September 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Indeed it is. Corrected. Thanks!

  40. chelsea September 6, 2011 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Thankfully im an employee at Peets coffee and tea and am happy to report that our pumpkin spice latte is vegan.

  41. laura September 6, 2011 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Thanks for looking into this. Once again, something potentially delicious is ruined by milk. For no reason!!!

  42. Laura T. September 6, 2011 at 9:56 am - Reply

    I emailed Starbucks about the pumpkin spice latte last week and this was the reply I got:

    Hello Laura,

    Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

    Unfortunately, the Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup is still not vegan at this time. I’m sorry for that inconvenience this year.

    However, a complete vegan option is in the works at our company and in the near future will be available at Starbucks locations around the world.

    There is more information about it on this link:
    http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/customer/archive/2008/07/01/nutritious-food-choices-including-vegan-options.aspx

    I’m sorry again that the Pumpkin Spice syrup is still currently not vegan, but I hope that does not stop you from having other great experiences at our stores!

    Sincerely,
    Douglas U.
    Customer Relations
    Starbucks Coffee Company

    So fingers crossed that there soon will be a vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte.

  43. Taryn September 6, 2011 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Every year I wish the pumpkin spice latte were vegan… sigh.

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