Is Starbucks Chai Vegan? Examining The Ingredients

Chai tea lattes are a popular caffeinated drink offered at Starbucks. But can vegans enjoy this spiced tea beverage on a dairy-free diet? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Starbucks’ traditional chai tea lattes are not vegan due to containing honey and dairy milk.

However, customized dairy-free versions can be ordered.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take a close look at Starbucks chai ingredients, explain how to order a vegan chai latte, overview dairy and animal-derived products to avoid, discuss vegan chai options at other coffee shops, and provide tips for making your own vegan chai lattes at home.

Examining Starbucks Chai Ingredients

Contains Honey and Dairy Milk

When it comes to Starbucks Chai, it’s important to note that the standard recipe does contain honey and dairy milk. Honey is often used to add sweetness and enhance the flavor of the chai, while dairy milk provides a creamy texture.

These ingredients may not be suitable for those following a vegan diet as they are derived from animals.

According to the official Starbucks website, their Chai Tea Latte contains a blend of black tea, honey, spices, and milk. The honey used in their recipe is ethically sourced, but it is still derived from bees. Similarly, the milk used is cow’s milk, which is not plant-based.

If you are strictly adhering to a vegan lifestyle, you may want to consider alternative options or make customizations to your order.

Customizations for Vegan Options

While the standard Starbucks Chai may not be vegan-friendly, the good news is that you can customize your order to suit your dietary preferences. Starbucks offers a range of dairy-free milk alternatives, such as soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.

If you prefer your chai without honey, you can request for it to be made without honey syrup. Instead, you can ask for a vegan sweetener option like raw sugar or a syrup that does not contain any animal products.

In addition to customizing the milk and sweetener, you can also experiment with different spices and flavors to create your own unique vegan chai. Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom can enhance the taste and aroma of your beverage.

Remember to communicate your dietary preferences clearly to your barista when placing your order, and they will be happy to accommodate your needs.

It’s worth mentioning that while Starbucks does not explicitly market their chai as vegan, they do offer a variety of plant-based food and beverage options, making it easier for those following a vegan lifestyle to find suitable choices at their stores.

For more information on Starbucks’ vegan options, you can visit their official website:

How to Order a Vegan Chai Latte at Starbucks

For those following a vegan lifestyle, finding suitable options at coffee shops can sometimes be a challenge. However, Starbucks offers a variety of alternatives for those looking to enjoy a vegan chai latte.

By making a few simple modifications to your order, you can enjoy a delicious and vegan-friendly beverage.

Ask for Non-Dairy Milk

One of the key components of a chai latte is the milk used to create its creamy texture. To ensure your chai latte is vegan, it’s important to request non-dairy milk. Fortunately, Starbucks offers several non-dairy milk options, including soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.

These alternatives not only provide a creamy consistency but also add a unique flavor to your chai latte.

Pro Tip: Did you know that Starbucks charges extra for non-dairy milk? However, if you ask for a “vegan chai latte,” some baristas might waive the additional charge as a gesture of goodwill. It never hurts to ask!

Request No Honey

Another ingredient that may not be suitable for vegans is honey. Traditional chai lattes often contain honey as a sweetener. To make your chai latte vegan, be sure to request no honey in your order. Instead, you can ask for alternative sweeteners such as agave syrup or raw sugar.

These options will provide the desired sweetness without compromising your vegan lifestyle.

Fun Fact: Did you know that honey is not considered vegan due to its origin as a byproduct of bees? While some vegans choose to include honey in their diet, many prefer to avoid it to align with their principles of not exploiting animals.

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy a vegan chai latte at Starbucks. Remember to ask for non-dairy milk and request no honey. These modifications ensure that your beverage is both delicious and vegan-friendly.

For more information on Starbucks’ vegan options and ingredients, you can visit their official website here.

Animal-Derived Ingredients to Avoid

When it comes to determining whether Starbucks Chai is vegan, it is essential to examine the ingredients carefully. Some ingredients commonly found in chai beverages may be derived from animals. Let’s take a closer look at three animal-derived ingredients to watch out for:

Dairy Milk

One of the most well-known animal-derived ingredients is dairy milk. Traditional chai recipes often include milk as a key ingredient. However, for those following a vegan lifestyle, dairy milk is not an option.

Thankfully, Starbucks offers plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk. These alternatives provide a creamy and delicious base for their chai beverages, making them suitable for vegans.


Another ingredient to be cautious about is honey. While honey is often used as a sweetener in chai recipes, it is derived from bees and is not considered vegan. Starbucks understands this concern and offers a variety of sweeteners that are vegan-friendly, such as raw sugar, agave syrup, and stevia.

So, if you prefer your chai on the sweeter side, you can still enjoy it without compromising your vegan lifestyle.

Carmine Color

Carmine color, also known as cochineal extract or natural red 4, is a red pigment derived from crushed cochineal insects. It is commonly used in food and beverage products to provide a vibrant red hue. However, carmine color is not vegan-friendly.

It’s important to note that Starbucks does not use carmine color in their chai beverages, ensuring that they are suitable for vegans.

Other Coffee Shops With Vegan Chai Lattes

Local Cafes

If you’re looking for a vegan chai latte but want to support local businesses, there are plenty of options available. Many independent cafes offer their own take on this popular beverage, using plant-based milk and vegan-friendly ingredients.

These cafes often take pride in sourcing high-quality ingredients and may even have their own unique twist on the classic chai latte recipe. Check out your local coffee shops and don’t be afraid to ask about their vegan options. You might just discover a hidden gem!


Peet’s Coffee, a popular chain with locations across the United States, also offers a vegan chai latte on their menu. Made with their signature blend of black tea, spices, and a choice of plant-based milk, Peet’s vegan chai latte is a delicious and satisfying option for those following a vegan diet.

You can customize your drink by choosing from a variety of milk alternatives, such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is another well-known coffee shop that caters to vegan customers. Their vegan chai latte is made with a blend of aromatic spices and a choice of plant-based milk. Whether you prefer soy milk, almond milk, or any other milk alternative, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf can accommodate your dietary needs.

Pair your vegan chai latte with one of their vegan pastries for a delightful treat.

When exploring these coffee shops, it’s always a good idea to double-check with the barista about the specific ingredients used in their chai latte. While these coffee shops strive to offer vegan options, there may be variations in recipes or potential cross-contamination with non-vegan ingredients.

By asking questions, you can ensure that your chai latte is truly vegan-friendly.

Making Your Own Vegan Chai Tea Lattes

For those who follow a vegan lifestyle or have dietary restrictions, making your own vegan chai tea lattes at home can be a great alternative to store-bought options. Not only does it give you control over the ingredients, but it also allows you to experiment with different flavors and spice blends to create a personalized drink.

DIY Spice Blend

One of the key components of a delicious chai tea latte is the spice blend. While traditional chai recipes often include milk and honey, there are plenty of vegan-friendly substitutes that can be used.

To create your own spice blend, start with the basics: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and black pepper.

You can easily find these spices at your local grocery store or online. Experiment with different ratios until you find the perfect blend that suits your taste buds. Some people prefer a spicier chai, while others prefer a milder flavor. Feel free to adjust the quantities to your liking.

Add Plant-Based Milk and Sweetener

Once you have your spice blend ready, it’s time to add the liquid components to your chai tea latte. Instead of using traditional dairy milk, opt for a plant-based milk like almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk.

These options not only provide a creamy texture but also complement the flavors of the spices.

When it comes to sweeteners, there are several vegan-friendly options available. You can use natural sweeteners like maple syrup or agave nectar, or opt for sugar alternatives like stevia or coconut sugar. Experiment with different sweeteners to find the perfect balance of sweetness for your taste.

Pro tip: If you prefer your chai tea latte to be frothy, you can use a milk frother or a blender to create that satisfying foam on top.

Making your own vegan chai tea latte gives you the freedom to customize your drink to your liking. Whether you prefer a spicier blend or a sweeter taste, the possibilities are endless. So, grab your favorite mug, get creative with your spice blend, and enjoy a delicious homemade vegan chai tea latte!


While Starbucks’ standard chai latte contains dairy milk and honey, you can customize or request a version made with plant-based milk and no honey to make it vegan-friendly. Check out local coffee shops too for even more vegan chai options you can enjoy guiltfree on a dairy-free diet.

Similar Posts