Soy, or Not to Soy – it’s up to you

Soy, or Not to Soy – it’s up to you

A lot has been written both espousing and forsaking soy products.  I will state upfront that I will not do either, I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not you serve soy to your veglings.  What I will do is share with you the few concrete facts I have managed to glean from many hours of research.  Don’t worry, it wont take long, most of what I found was very subjective and emotive.  So far, this is what I feel I can reliably tell you;

Basic facts

  • Known as soybeans or soya beans, is a species of legume native to East Asia.  
  • The main countries growing soybeans are the United States, Brazil and Argentina.  
  • In 100 grams, raw soybeans supply 446 calories and are 9% water, 30% carbohydrates, 20% total fat and 36% protein .
  • Edamame is young soybeans, usually still in the pod. Because the beans are young and green when they are picked, edamame soybeans are soft and edible.

Products made using soybeans

  • Milk – involves a process of drying, crushing, hydrating, heating and filtering soybeans.
  • Soy sauce – salty, dark brown liquid condiment made from fermented soybeans
  • Tofu – often called bean curd since it’s made by curdling soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft, white blocks.  Different types of tofu include; fresh tofu, soft or silken tofu, firm tofu, extra firm tofu, processed tofu, fermented tofu, dried tofu, fried tofu, and frozen tofu.
  • Natto – a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto.
  • Miso – a savory paste is made from soybeans, a grain (usually rice), and salt. It is combined with a mould culture and aged for at least one year.
  • Cheese – substitute for dairy cheese that comes in many different forms comparable to dairy cheeses.
  • Mayonnaise – several brands of soy-based mayonnaise are available at natural foods stores.
  • Yogurt – made from soy milk.
  • Tamari – type of soy sauce; a by-product of the production of miso.
  • Kecap manis –  a sweet soy sauce native to Indonesia made with fermented soy beans and flavored with palm sugar, star anise, galangal and other aromatics.
  • Tempeh – made from whole soybeans that have been mixed with a grain and a mould culture, fermented, and pressed into a block or cake.
  • Textured soy protein (TSP) or textured vegetable protein (TVP) – made from textured soy flour.  Usually sold in chunks or granules, and takes on a chewy, meat-like texture when rehydrated.
  • Soybean oil – is extracted using hexane solvent and is often sold as “vegetable oil”.

Soy Controversy

The impact of soy on public health has been fiercely debated since the 1940’s.  Many studies, often conflicting, link soy to breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, menopause symptoms, cardiovascular health, hypothyroidism, mineral absorption, as well as positive outcomes such as weight loss and cancer prevention.  Much of the concern relates to the isoflavone or phytoestrogens found in soybeans. If you want to know more, this CNN article provides a good summation;

Some reports state that soybean cultivation in Brazil has destroyed huge areas of Amazon rain forest and is encouraging further deforestation. Soybean crops in the US have a massive physical footprint with over 30 million hectares dedicated to soy crops.  Also, many groups express concern that over 90% of soybean cultivated in the US are genetically modified.



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