Why A Milk Substitution Won't Make Your Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Vegan

There are a few things you can do if you're a vegan and in need of a Starbucks fix. You can hold the dairy and ask for a range of milk alternatives, from almond to soy to coconut milk; you can skip the whipped cream; and if you're worried about carmine or cochineal extract (and whether they might still even be around) you can opt out of any strawberry or pink drinks. But the one thing you can't customize and vegan-ize is the one drink you probably wish you could — the Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

One look at the ingredient list, which is helpfully provided on the Starbucks website, will tell you why. The one ingredient you really can't replace or skip, the pumpkin spice sauce that makes the Pumpkin Spice Latte what it is, contains condensed skim milk. Without this dairy-containing ingredient, you're kind of just left with a regular, alternative milk latte. Not exactly the festive drink you were imagining.

Starbucks released a vegan PSL in other countries

Vegans, we hear you. It's irritating to constantly get left out of a fall rite of passage just because Starbucks USA doesn't appear interested in catering to your dietary needs. It's probably even more annoying when you find out that Cosmopolitan reported Starbucks in the UK had begun selling a vegan, dairy-free version of the PSL all the way back in 2018 — which means all our friends across the pond need to do is hold the cream, swap out the milk, and (as the Brits would say) Bob's your uncle. To add insult to injury, Starbucks UK introduced a vegan whipped cream this year, so there is hardly a difference between the vegan and non-vegan PSL there at all (via Live Kindly).

If you're irate enough, Bustle says you could always start a petition calling on Starbucks to make the Pumpkin Spice Latte vegan, though we're not sure how much good it would do. An old petition that was started nine years ago on Change.org received 11,560 signatures and the coffee chain has still not granted the dairy-free wish.

Alternatives to Starbucks' PSL

Since Starbucks doesn't off a vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte, you're left with a couple of options if you need your fall-flavored fix. One alternative is to hack the drink by ordering a vegan Vanilla Latte from Starbucks and then tossing on the Pumpkin Spice topping mix to PSL-ify your fall coffee. Then there is always the option of making your very own vegan version of the PSL at home (Both Prevention and The Kitchn offer great recipes that can easily be made with dairy alternatives). It may not be the OG PSL, but it will be vegan, and — though we hate to admit it — possibly healthier without all the preservatives Starbucks puts in it.