Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products

By Published On: 24 September 2009Last Updated: 17 January 2017

Starbucks has started serving up their famous Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Everyone loves them, but are the vegan?

What's in this post

I just love fall, don’t you?  The air is crisp, the leaves are blowing their fantastic colors in the air or crunching under our feet, spooky decorations to frighten us on Halloween start appearing, and so do the pumpkins.  First you start seeing the pumpkins at the grocery store, then pumpkin spice scents start to fill the candle shops and in body cremes, and finally you notice all the coffee shops starting to sell  some kind of autumn spice drink.

Starbucks Sign

One coffee house in particular, Starbucks, is well known for its Pumpkin Spice Latte.  This drink is like crack to people, it’s really incredible.  I’ve never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte, though I’ve been told I’m missing out on some seriously good shit.  And even though I’ve never had one, I’ve imagined that it’s a sweet taste of autumn.  At least, that’s how its been described to me.  So I wondered, is it vegan?

To get the answer I had to go to the Starbucks website to see what it says.  Have you ever been to the Starbucks website?  It has a nutritional calculator on it that allows  you to design your drink to get the “beverage detail”.  Which, I guess, is kinda cool.  So, I plugged in a tall pumpkin spice latte made with soymilk and no whip.  Well, it has 230 calories – 30 of which come from fat, 41 grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of protein.  It also has 37 grams of sugar and 150 milligrams of sodium.  So I thought to myself, it’s not a drink I’d have often – but it’s something I could have as a treat every once in awhile.  But I wanted to see what was in it.  So I started searching for an ingredient list.

And I searched and searched.  You know what I found?  Starbucks doesn’t list the ingredients of their products on their website.  I find that absolutely insane.  How can you not post the ingredients for the general public to look up?  Are we just supposed to blindly trust a large corporation with our personal health?

I found a number listed on the website for a customer care representative and got busy trying to reach someone.  Honestly, I thought that I’d grow old before they were done listing all the options and corresponding numbers.  Finally I heard my department, I pushed the number only to be dragged through another list of menu options.  Where is the menu option to bypass all the bullshit so that I can talk to someone, that’s all I wanted to know.  But alas, they didn’t give me that option.  I did the laundry, the dishes, and mowed the lawn as the menu selections droned on and on.  Eventually my department came up and I excitedly pushed the button.  Success! I was told that someone would “be right with me”.  I didn’t mind the hold.  Holding is fine.  I just sat there and tapped on my glass while I waited.  And tapped, and tapped some more.  Soon I had several pens and pencils rapping the side of the glass for an awesome rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.  But what I didn’t have, was a customer care representative who would, “be right with me”.  That part wasn’t true.  I stayed on hold over ten minutes.  Just how many people are calling Starbucks at 10 o’clock in the morning?

ANYWAY, I finally get to talk to Michelle.  I told Michelle that I’d like to have the ingredient list for the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  And Michelle cheerily gave them to me.  At record speed.  Finally the phone conversation had sped up, but now I needed her to slow down.  Ironic, isn’t it?

Here’s the ingredient list for the Pumpkin Spice Latte:  sugar, condensed nonfat milk, sweet condensed nonfat milk, annatto (a colorant), natural and artificial flavors (which she couldn’t give me), and caramel coloring.

Which means that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte made with soymilk and no whip is not vegan.  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 (or in my case, disgust) 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 Lattes.  Quit adding the crap like condensed milk.  And while your at it, take down that ridiculous banner ad that boasts how much milk is in your products.  Your claims about a Grande Latte providing me with “half the dairy I need for the day”  is a bold inaccuracy.  Take it down and start serving up some seasonal vegan lattes.  Otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll have a bunch of cranky, non-caffeinated vegans to contend with.

Nutritional information for the Pumpkin Spice Latte provided by Starbucks.com

** UPDATE: 9/6/11:  Please also see our update on the nutritional information provided by Starbucks at How Vegan is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?


  1. Ember September 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this. I feel like an idiot. I went in and not until a lady heard me order mine without dairy did she say hmmm. Looked at the ingredient list and said oh this has condensed milk in it. BLEH. I have been drinking these since I went vegan. Thankfully last one was last Fall so I can’t be too hard on myself. Thank you again for posting. Here is my recipe and it is WAY better and VEGAN. :)

    6 tb of pumpkin (canned) 2 cups of milk (I used coconut) a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice, 2 tb of torani pumpkin syrup and 1 tb of pure vanilla extract. Mix in a hot pot then stores in the fridge until you’re ready to use it in your coffee. Should last about 4 days. Now, go forth and save money!

  2. Tiffany September 30, 2012 at 2:40 am - Reply

    Thanks for putting in the time and research on this! I love Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but they always make me sick, and same with my husband. This doesn’t happen to us with other drinks, so I had assumed the syrup was the culprit. Sure enough- you confirmed my hypothesis! We both have milk intolerances. Thanks again!

  3. Denise Rome October 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Hi and thanks for the information. I got a soy based coffee drink at Starbucks the other day (frappuccino) and was sick for 3 hours because it contained milk. I have a milk allergy so i just assumed if i asked for soy milk, it would not have any milk ingredients in it.
    Also, I went to buy some Veggie Slices because someone said it tasted just like cheese. It says on the front, “soy based product” but on the back it stated that it contains milk ingredients… (no wonder it tasted just like cheese!) .Just wondering what type of person would want this product?

  4. SumanSutra January 18, 2011 at 1:13 am - Reply

    […] Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… […]

  5. pagomuff November 22, 2010 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  6. VeganTriangle November 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  7. julieheartsbrad November 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  8. SakiSura November 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  9. girl_xxx November 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  10. michiganroman November 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    @YourDailyVegan thanx for the good info / reporting . washed up arrogant stupid punks run america so weve got to think 4 selves to survive

  11. tofu_princess November 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  12. VeganEtsyTeam November 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Friendly reminder: Fall ushers in some hidden dairy products… – https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2009/09/24… #vegan

  13. Cook. Vegan. Lover. September 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    […] You can read why the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte ISN’T vegan here. […]

  14. […] few years pumpkin has just been around more—it’s been put in beer (hurrah!), coffee (too bad Starbucks Pumpkin Spice flavoring isn’t vegan yet), milkshakes, of course put in pies ,and sometimes even baked […]

  15. jeri@godsdreamsforme September 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Yup! I did two articles on them for our local paper. The reason why ingredients can change sporadically depends on the vendor providing them with the products. It says so at the Starbucks website. Also, this month non-vegan, next month same item can be vegan. Best is to call or ask your Barista.

    I just did the Pumpkin Spice Latte article – assured it was vegan and then it switched after and went non-vegan.

    Just have to check. Great article KD. Loved it.

  16. chrisalfieri September 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    what a bummer! i do love my starbucks and DEFINITELY love pumpkin lattes…the syrup manufacturer Monin makes a pumpkin spice syrup which i use for my home coffee needs. the igredients list as: pure cane sugar, water, pumpkin flavor, pumpkin spice flavor, nutmeg flavor, salt.


  17. Katara November 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Oh, you’ve just reminded me that Sumo Salad has not answered my request for ingredient information!!! I’ve learned not to buy until you’ve verified the ingredients from the source, not the staff…

  18. leslie October 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Oh this is a sad sad day…but I’d rather know than keep on drinking in ignorance. Ugh.

  19. happyherbivore October 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    while I’ve never had starbucks “lie” to me — I’ve had other coffee shops tell me such and such is vegan with soymilk only to find myself cramping and sick hours later… I’m a vegan and lactose intolerant, sure — but what if I had a severe allergy? I really hate how misinformed employees are and that ingredient information is not only inaccessible in stores but as you pointed out, on websites as well.

  20. ckwebgrrl October 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm - Reply


    I get Starbucks soy lattes and mochas all the time but this week a friend asked me to get him a pumpkin spice latte, so I got one too (soy, no whip). Had no idea it would have more than syrup in it – but that explains my sinus headache and need for benedryl (in addition to being vegan, I’m allergic to dairy).

    Thanks for the info!

  21. revelations « be well & take care September 26, 2009 at 9:46 am - Reply

    […] Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is not vegan. This is good for the following reasons: I don’t need to be spending money on such a thing […]

  22. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jlmorrison and Stephanie N. Medoff. Stephanie N. Medoff said: now understands why she felt so sick after she had a few sips of Pumpkin Spice Latte on the first day of fall… http://bit.ly/3Zm6vx […]

  23. Casey September 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have worked for Starbucks for over a year. I enjoyed soy Pumpkin Spice Lattes for probably about a month last fall. I believe my coworker was putting away the order, which included a bunch of bottles of pumpkin spice sauce. The ingredients caught her eye, and she noticed there were two kinds of milk products in it. I was very sad to find that out and also felt a bit disgusted since I had been drinking them for a while with no idea. It’s very unfortunate that milk products are in the pumpkin spice sauce. I wish it could be made a different way. It is different from other flavors though, since it is a sort of thick sauce instead of a very thin syrup. It would be nice to have a good vegan fall drink at my work though…. usually steamed apple juice or a soy hot chocolate is what I choose. I must mention, though, that for our winter season drinks, we featured gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas, both of which are vegan when made with soy milk and no whip. ;)

    Another thing, my boyfriend works at Caribou, where they also have some sort of pumpkin latte. He said their pumpkin flavor is a syrup, and that he is pretty sure it’s vegan. That might be worth looking into if you are really craving a pumpkin flavored festive fall drink. :)

  24. […] famous Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Everyone loves them, but are the vegan? Read the original here:  Hidden Dairy Products Exposed | Your Daily Vegan Categories: Art, Products Tags: but-are, buy products, chief, digital, famous, lattes-everyone, […]

  25. Allyson September 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Hey there! Just found your site and loove it! I was hoping I could add you to my list of resources or blogroll- I am just getting started, but the site is up and running-if you would like to make sure its not Anti-Vegan :) I would love to have more places to direct people to.

    Thanks so much and looking forward to more posts!



  26. Krista September 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Being vegan I never assume anything is vegan, no matter how much it seems it should be. I don’t even like to go to normal restraunts anymore because you can almost never trust the waiter. Over the years I have learned that the oddest most innocent things can be not vegan. If I don’t know whats in it, I wont eat it unless I find out.

    I do think that latte means milk in Italian, but I have had things that had dairy type names, etc and they were vegan. So, you never know.

    Oh, just a little tip: When you get on to those horrible press 1 for this 2 for that and they never give you an option to talk to a real person try either 0, * or nine. One of those are usually the options that will get you to a real person. They may not say it, but one of them usually works and bypasses the annoying, unending options.

  27. Dan Waldron September 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

  28. E. Marie September 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I always thought latte meant milk anyway! So, I avoid it no matter what.

  29. Karisa September 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I’ve got a vegan pumpkin spice muffin with your name all over it! I will happily list the ingredients for you when you call, and no hold time or automated lists. Unfortunately I’m only in one location so far. 2531 S Lamar, Austin, Texas. Austin Vegans with a need for pumpkin come on by. Loved the post! keep up the good work xo

  30. Katie September 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    I’ve been vegan for 12 years now, but I am embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve enjoyed some delicious packaged food or cafe product for weeks or months, only to discover later that they contained some nasty byproduct or modified milk ingredient. Ugh.

    I’m now much more careful to search for ingredient lists or give restaurants a call when I’m unsure. I guess, sometimes, you just have to learn to be more careful through your own mistakes. But kudos to you for looking into it and being persistent. I had a feeling a pumpkin spice latte would be a vegan catastrophe…

Leave A Comment

HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…