Does anyone actually care that James Cromwell glued his hand to a Starbucks counter?
PETA's shenanigans just make a mockery of animal rights activism.
I have been a dedicated advocate for animal rights since I was a teen. I’ve never been perfect — I eat eggs, wear vintage leather, and I loathe PETA. As a former member of the organization, I feel like they make very real animal rights issues into absurdist performances that have become an obstacle to change. James Cromwell gluing his hand to a Starbucks counter to protest vegan milk prices for a PETA livestream is exactly the kind of performative nonsense I’m talking about.
In case you missed it, the Succession actor reportedly walked into a Starbucks in Midtown Manhattan yesterday, glued his hand to the counter, and started ranting about vegan milk prices as PETA livestreamed the event on their website. “More than 13,000 customers have asked you,” Cromwell said in the performance. “Now we’re asking: Will you stop charging more for vegan milk? When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals and the environment suffer?”
Look, these are reasonable questions that many smart people around the world are asking, and Cromwell made some other good points, too. “Cows produce milk for the same reason humans do: to nourish their young. But in the dairy industry, they give birth and their babies are taken from them almost immediately so that their milk can be sold. Mother cows cry for their infants for days. They suffer no less than human mothers would,” Cromwell said.
This is all sad and true and deserves our attention. But I’m afraid that PETA’s tactics actually do the opposite of what they’re meant to. There is no space to deeply consider the horrific plight of dairy cows when flashes are popping and people are yelling. And while I am often irritated by the fact that vegan milk costs more, it’s a price I’m willing to pay to support ethical companies.
And honestly, the extra change that Starbucks rakes in on oatmilk is actually one of the least egregious ethical violations that the company makes on the daily. Who even goes to Starbucks? We all know that they’re no friend to labor in the U.S. and also overpriced and also their coffee plantations are exactly what they sound like. So yeah, fuck Starbucks, but also fuck PETA for making a mockery of real suffering in the world by turning it into farce to bring in donations to fund more ineffective “campaigns.”