Many vegans rely on soy products to meet their nutritional needs. Whether they use these products as transition foods to replace animal products or whether they just enjoy these products in their own right, not everyone wants to consume soy.
For reasons both good and bad, lots of people these days are avoiding all soy products. Can those people go vegan? Is it possible to be both soy-free and vegan?
The answer is yes. The UK Vegan Society even lists soy-free foods on their website (see here). Here are some options for soy-free vegan foods:
1. For protein and iron, consider other legumes. Instead of soy beans (and the products made from them: tofu, tempeh, soy milk, etc), enjoy bean and rice burritos, split pea soup, hummus sandwiches, falafels, 3-bean salads, lentil burgers, and more. Beans are cheap and widely available. Just find a few bean recipes you like and enjoy!
2. Another option for protein are nuts and seeds. Maybe a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich suits you? Or perhaps a bowl of chocolate almond ice cream? Cashews, brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds along with some raisons or chocolate chips can make for a tasty protein-rich trail mix. Quinoa is a seed that’s also a “complete protein” like soy. Cook it up like rice or oatmeal and enjoy at any time of day.
3. For milky, creamy things, people who eat soy will use soy milk or tofu. But if you’re soy-free or just want to eat less soy, then you can use these alternatives: almonds, cashews, white beans, coconuts. For example, instead of soy milk, try almond milk. Instead of soy ice cream, try coconut milk ice cream. Instead of soy cheese, try cashew cheese. Instead of soy milk for soups and creamy foods, try pureed white beans. There are lots of options. Just explore vegan cookbooks, vegan blogs, and the grocery store. Many grocery stores now carry almond milk, for example.
4. For meaty texture, you have options: seitan, mushrooms, eggplants. So for all those foods like chili, burgers, gumbo, etc., try chewy vegetables like mushrooms or eggplants. And experiment! Find foods you like that don’t contain soy and that don’t cause unecessary suffering.
No matter what kind of vegan diet you choose, it’s wise to learn about vegan nutrition. Here are some resources for detailed info on vegan nutrition:
And remember, while a dietary change towards veganism is generally helpful in preventing or reversing some diseases (like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers), dietary changes should be done in association with medical supervision. Moreover, if you choose a soy-free diet because you are sensitive to soy, you might also be sensitive to other foods, like peanuts. So it’s wise to investigate that possibility with an allergist and an elimination diet.