HEALTHWASHING
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Why We (Mostly) Hate Soy

 


Written by Sondi Bruner, our extra super awesometown intern- we will miss you when you leave, dearest Sonderson!

It seems like people are a lil’ bit sensitive about their soy products, which we discovered recently when Meghan wrote about her Natural Products Expo adventure.

In case you missed it, here’s the gist: foods splashed with lofty health claims are usually not healthy, including faux sausage, turkey and hot dogs, which are almost always made out of soy.

Some peeps believe that eating fakin’ bacon is a better choice for personal health, the environment and animal rights. We don’t agree, and here’s why:

Myth: Eating soy is great for your health and is better than eating animal products

Unfortunately, many soy products on the market have been genetically modified. In the United States, an astounding 91% of soy crops are GMOs. Here in Canada, soybeans are a growing biz, too. Last year, we grew over 4 million metric tons of soy, mostly in Ontario and Quebec. So it really an ethical choice? (Tweet it)

We’re doing slightly better than the US with about 65% GMOs, but let’s face it, most processed soy foods aren’t using organic, non-GMO soy as the source.

So what does all this mean? It means we can’t recognize genetically modified soy as actual food, so our bodies don’t know how to digest, absorb and use it as fuel. GMO foods have also been linked to numerous health issues, including allergies, liver problems, infertility and sterility, breast cancer, thyroid disorders, kidney stones and more.

Yikes. You want to risk all that for the fleeting satisfaction of eating a veggie burger? (Tweet up the soy paradox)

On top of it all, soy products have a phytoestrogenic effect, which means they mimic our  own production of estrogen in the body. Though many studies show this affect can actually help prevent cancer, other studies (and many women) cite that soy created all kinds of hormonal issues relating to thyroid issues and severe hormonal imbalance.

Mass produced GMO soy, shaped into bacon and turkeys is a scary frankenfood. And it’s no better for you than hormone-ridden meat.

Myth: Eating soy is better for the environment. 

There’s no question that breeding animals for food wastes an enormous amount of natural resources and pollutes our air and waterways, and sacrifices lives. A plant-based diet is far gentler on the earth.

But is soy consumption the answer to healing the planet?

No. Genetically modified foods like soy have a detrimental effect on the environment. They threaten biodiversity and create pollution that destroys waterways, land and wildlife.

And what about the energy used to transport processed foods all over the world, and all the wasteful packaging that goes along with it?  We’ve certainly never seen a veggie dog that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic and cardboard.

Myth: Eating soy is an ethical choice. 

Let's be clear: factory farms that cage helpless animals, abuse them and pump them full of hormones and antibiotics are unequivocally inhumane and unethical. Many of you probably argue that there is no humane way to slaughter animals. We can give you that too. We fully understand where you are coming from.

But is it ethical to be wasting hectares of arable land to plant soy that produces frankenfoods, animal feed, or plastic when that land could be planted with wholesome fruits and vegetables?

Is it fair to feed animals processed and genetically modified soy feed, which is definitely not part of their natural diet, but which they receive because it's cheap and easy to grow - and massively subsidized by governments?

Is it ethical to give our children processed soy foods that have as many synthetic ingredients, preservatives and toxins as their meaty counterparts?

Because when we choose to consume products like Tofurkey, and Yves veggies dogs, we are contributing to the demand for fake, soy foods that are detrimental to human health, animal health and the planet.

And that doesn’t sound ethical at all.

But wait - soy’s not ALL bad

Here in the kitchen, there are a couple of kinds of soy that we feel confident eating on the rare occasion and in moderation. These products are always organic, non-gmo and fermented or sprouted, which are chock full of probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and protein.

But here’s the thing - we don’t eat them every day at every meal. We eat them occasionally, and never in the shape of pepperoni or a turkey.

If you’re against meat for health, environmental and ethical reasons, then why eat a faux soy product that’s meant to mimic its taste and appearance?

If you are all about going vegan, go for it - but don't go making soy the hero.

How to use the good soy products

Tempeh

Miso

Tofu

Question of the Day: Is soy really an ethical choice? Share your thoughts and tweet it up.

Tweet that question to your followers!

Note that we have changed the picture as people seem incredibly protective of their Tofurkey- a processed, MSG (or yeast extract- same, same) ridden junk food. Instead, we are using a picture of a mono crop of soy. 

Update From Meghan : March 29th

I understand the issues arising that because we have said Soy is not an ideal choice, that eating animals is better. As you have likely noticed- if following this blog for any of the the 1,000+ posts over the last three and a half years, we don’t promote much animal based foods around here. 98% of my recipes are vegetarian (or more accurately honey + vegan) and only about 8 of them use soy. What we are working on promoting is the concept that you can go veg and vegan- easily, deliciously and happily, without relying on soy as a filler or transitional foods. It’s not just the vegan meats that are problematic in the soy debate- but also the fact that soy has infiltrated nearly every processed food on the shelf- everything from cereals, crackers, breads, oils and cosmetics. Soy can definitely be part of a healthy, balanced veg, vegan or omnivorous diet- but should it be consumed daily? Definitely not. Unless we actively seek out soy free foods, there is no way to avoid it- and for this reason, I do believe we are generally consuming way too much of it.

42 Responses to “Why We (Mostly) Hate Soy”

  1. Healthier doesn't = Healthy. More ethical doesn't = ethical. http://t.co/rqqbgduD
    • stephanie said…
      Ah, but the list of myths here for the most part dealt with "better" not "best." So, is it a myth that soy products are *better* than real meat, for my health and for the environment? In my opinion, no, it is not a myth -- they ARE better. They are not THE best, or THE healthiest, but they are BETTER. i.e., healthier, and more ethical than eating meat and supporting the meat industry.
  2. Meghan Telpner said…
    I understand the issues arising that because we have said Soy is not an ideal choice, that eating animals is better. As you have likely noticed- if following this blog for any of the the 1,000+ posts over the last three and a half years, we don't promote much animal based foods around here. 98% of my recipes are vegetarian (or more accurately honey + vegan) and only about 8 of them use soy. What we are working on promoting is the concept that you can go veg and vegan- easily, deliciously and happily, without relying on soy as a filler or transitional foods. It's not just the vegan meats that are problematic in the soy debate- but also the fact that soy has infiltrated nearly every processed food on the shelf- everything from cereals, crackers, breads, oils and cosmetics. Soy can definitely be part of a healthy, balanced veg, vegan or omnivorous diet- but should it be consumed daily? Definitely not. Unless we actively seek out soy free foods, there is no way to avoid it- and for this reason, I do believe we are generally consuming way too much of it.
  3. Whole foods and real foods only for me RT @MeghanInc: The #tofurkey #healthwashing debate continues Where do you stand? http://t.co/9eGqhtOE
  4. Lea Ann said…
    My big question is - what healthy proteins can I cook up for my octo-lacto toddlers that they will actually eat? I love tempeh, lentils and such, but the beans (and sadly tempeh) get a big thumbs down from my little ones (aged 2 and 4). They, of course, love the veggie dogs and such. They also love quinoa and other grains, fruit and a good number of veggies, so I am lucky there, but if anyone has some great suggestions to keep the wee toddlers off the soy products and on the healthy veggie train, I would be most appreciative!!!
    • Erica said…
      I have the same problem, my kids generally won't eat legumes. But they do love organic edamame, have you tried that? I boil them and toss them with sea salt and call them "pop out" beans and the kids love popping them out of the pod. They'll gobble them down.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Lea Ann- check out some of the bean loving recipes. Many types of burger patties to choose from: http://meghantelpner.com/recipe-loving-2/?search_term=beans&ui=345 It's a great way to hide the beans.
  5. Is soy really an ethical choice? http://t.co/mVK0wKUb via @sondibruner @MeghanInc
  6. Ayngelina said…
    Meghan I love the debate that you inspire with your posts, people here have strong opinions but seem open minded. I do not want to eat any GMO and it was actually the reason for me making a huge change in my life. I realized it was practically impossible to get away from GMO corn and started eating less and less processed food, because the organic processed food is expensive and well cooking is cheaper!
  7. […] wheat gluten (see seitan, above), yeast extract (read: MSG), artificial flavours (read: poison), soy (no doubt GMO) and a whole pile words I can’t […]
  8. Theresa Wilson said…
    "GMO foods have also been linked to numerous health issues, including allergies, liver problems, infertility and sterility, breast cancer, thyroid disorders, kidney stones and more." Can you please advise me on where this scientific evidence is coming from? Where are you getting your statistics from for both the references to GMOs and impact of soy on women's health. I am not challenging your stand per say, but I would like to refer to those studies myself for clarity.
  9. Barb Bartelme said…
    I love soy, but it does not love me. After three trips to the emergency room after becoming violently ill from consuming soy, I learned that I don't have an allergy because it does not cause me to swell, get hives, etc., my body just can not tolerate it. I ate it for years and considered giving up meat for soy, then had a serious reaction that caused me to reject it. I have try to use it a little, and within fifteen minutes I am having internal problems. Personally, I think a lot of "gluten" problems may be related to soy or food additives. I am working on eating "clean" and have focused on adapting more of a plant based lifestyle. Thank you for your article. As a typical American, I am not ready to give up completely on meat. I think all things in moderation, with informed choices. I buy meat from a farmer who raises it humanely and is working for certification as organic.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      I don't think there's any need to give up on meat, but be more selective in your choices and opt for better quality over quantity. Also remember that allergy tests in hospitals are only testing for one type of immune response. You very well may have a sensitivity to it that just isn't showing up in their testing.

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