There’s been a lot of press about soy and some people are nervous about substituting soy for meat. Here are two of the main concerns:
1) human health and
2) environmental sustainability.
I’ve addressed both below:
1) Soy and Human Health
Anything in excess can be bad for you. Even water. But in moderation, many things are just fine for your health.
(Unless you’re allergic – and some people are allergic to soy, just like some people are allergic to peanuts or strawberries. If you’re allergic to soy, stay away from soy.)
The truth is, plant-based foods are much healthier than animal-based foods. So even if you substituted tofu for all your meat products, you’d still likely be eating more healthily than if you kept eating meat.
However, a proper diet should contain a wide variety of plant-based foods. You shouldn’t merely substitute a meat-centric diet with a tofu-centric diet. You should make your diet plant-centric instead, and include a wide variety of plants, including, but not limited to, soy.
If you look at vegan cookbooks, you’ll notice that many barely call for tofu anymore. I’d say fewer than 1/8th of all vegan recipes call for tofu. There are just so many other kinds of foods available. Some vegans don’t eat soy at all. There are plenty of options other than soy. So if you’re really worried about it, avoid soy.
Once you make the switch to veganism, you’ll see for yourself how many options you have other than just tofu and other soy products. Just try it!
2) Soy and Environmental Sustainability
First, here are three facts about soy and sustainability:
- Most soybeans are not produced to feed vegans.
- Most soybeans are produced to feed livestock. Thus the majority of current soybean production is to feed non-vegans.
- Even if the world went vegan tomorrow, there would be a reduction in the need for soybeans for the human food supply, not an increase, because vegans consume soybeans more efficiently than non-vegans, by virtue of the food chain
If you think about it, basically anything can be grown sustainably or unsustainably. It just depends on who grows it and how they do it. Certainly, some soy is grown in ways that are harmful to the environment. But some soy isn’t. The key is finding the sustainable soy. Read labels and shop at farmer’s markets to find sustainable soy.
Furthermore, the fact is, most meat isn’t sustainable. When it’s a choice between meat and soy, soy is more sustainable regardless of where it comes from. Vegans do less damage to the environment than meat-eaters. Simple as that.
For more information about soy please check out these websites:
- Vegan health: Soy (article 1)
- Vegan health: Soy (Article 2)
- Spot Soy
- Forum thread about soy
- Soy Information
- Government Website About Soy
- Soy: What’s The Big Deal?
- The China Study
So feel free to enjoy soy if you want it. As part of a healthy diet, soy can be a great source of protein.
And if you’re still worried, fine, avoid soy. But don’t let a fear of soy keep you from going vegan! There are plenty of other options to try within vegan cuisine. Soy is just one of hundreds of vegan foods and soy products are just some of the thousands of vegan products you can choose from.