Pumpkin Lattes and First-World Problems

We have doubtless all seen one or more First World Problem memes detailing frustrations that are only experienced by privileged people in wealthy countries. They are typically tongue-in-cheek devices (at least I hope they are tongue-in-cheek) to make light of trivial inconveniences. (See, e.g., here.)

The other day I came across a change.org petition that makes me wonder at the problems some people really think they have. (It definitely was not tongue-in-cheek.) The petition was to the CEO of Starbucks aimed at getting Starbucks to make its Pumpkin Spice Latte (a seasonal beverage that appears every fall) vegan and dairy-free. Apparently (and this in bold letters on the request for signatures) “there is currently no vegan option for this drink mix, which is a total bummer” and “many people are shocked to hear that the mix contains condensed milk.”

I am not insensitive to those who are lactose intolerant or who for health or other reasons wish to eat a vegan diet. I love to cook for friends and have no reluctance to modify menus to take into account their food allergies or other dietary restrictions and preferences.

But really, friends. Is it really that great a hardship that there are some by-no-means-necessary items of food and drink that are not vegan and dairy-free? Is one’s life greatly diminished (or diminished at all) by being forced to go through the fall season without a pumpkin latte? Aren’t there plenty of other vegan and dairy-free lattes to choose from?

And aren’t there more important things worth trying to change?


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