OK, I decided to try eating soya-free. “Why?” is the question I get most. The answer is, “to see what happens”.
Soy’s everywhere in food. For instance, most chocolates, ice-creams and breads contains it. A common soy ingredient is lecithin, an emulsifier and surfactant; it can help replace more expensive ingredients by allowing smooth-flowing or homogeneity.
Hey, let’s face it, a product like lecithin wouldn’t occur outside a lab., so it’s possibly only border-line vegan.
Practically all studies show no adverse long-term side-effects to consuming soy in moderate amounts, though people with under-active thyroids or those with low consumption of iodine may want to limit their intake.
Soy is also an allergen. Now, I don’t think I’m allergic to anything food-wise but I don’t know long-term. That soy is an allergen is detailed here.
veganhealth.org contains an excellent meta-study.
A common complaint directed at vegans is that we’re ‘destroying the rainforests’ by growing our soy, a tiresome myth that keeps getting repeated, so unthinking people accept it as true.
Most soy goes to…feed meat-eaters.
Either directly – through fillers in human processed foods: lecithin, soy flour, soy oil etc – or via animals, such as livestock fed on soya meal, which is what’s left after the oil has been extracted. 97% of soya bean meal is fed to cattle; part of the 3% goes into dog food.
Some of the rest is used as ‘extenders’ in things like minced beef. Some of the rest goes to industry for solvents, plastics, soaps, cosmetics etc.
Much soy oil production is consumed in road vehicles or sold as ‘vegetable oil’.
All non-organic animal feed in Ireland contains genetically modified ingredients, usually soy.
An ethical approach insists on local crops, organically grown; soy’s grown in France, Germany, Austria and other places, which is ‘local’ in an EU sense. Organic soy products won’t be processed using hexane, another benefit.
Avoid soya in Indonesia as it’s often processed using formaldehyde.
All people trying to avoid soy are going to have a hard time. Garage forecourts with sweet treats to go with beverages are a prime example of huge hidden soya consumption as it’s a cheap filler. Busy cafés too. You have to read every label on everything you buy. Fortunately, as it’s classed as an allergen, it should be printed in bold type. But beware – I’ve found one brand of vegan chocolate that’s sometimes labelled with soy lecithin, sometimes sunflower.
Not easy at all unless you cook all your meals from scratch. Most processed ‘meat’ type products are soy based and soy lecithin is widely used in all sorts of weird places.
A good alternative would be seitan, which is really easy to make at home (if you can tolerate gluten) and is much more ‘meaty’.
Another replacement is jackfruit and banana blossom.
Our local vegan restaurant has very few soy options, so I’ve pointed this out. They’re very responsive to customer comment.
Apart from the frustration of avoiding so much food, having to ask restaurant staff, having to re-read labels every time I picked up a product and so on, “very little” is the answer.
I haven’t had a cold since I gave up soya (7/10/2018) even though my partner had a stinker. No conclusions to draw from that.
Soy is a good source of iron and, after around three months of avoiding soy, I found myself feeling more tired than usual. This is hardly a scientific experiment and I simply upped my intake of iron- and vitamin C-rich foods. Cashews, kale, chick peas and lentils, pumpkin seeds etc. I take a small dose of liquid iron every few days too.
Am I making my life too hard? Being vegan means being vigilant anyway, why make things more difficult for no obvious reward?
Well, I’m going to avoid soya for at least six months, as much a protest as anything, at the way soya has become almost unavoidable, a bit like plastic. Yes, it’s been eaten in China and Japan for thousands of years but not in this hidden quantity, inside highly processed industrial foods.
Post 0032, 06/02/2019