You’ve started your vegan journey, but you’ve heard about a lot of things about soy. So is it healthy or unhealthy? The short answer is, mostly!
What is Soy—soy is actually a bean, part of the legume family. You probably have seen it mostly as TOFU which is the processed form of the natural soybean (it’s dried, soaked, crushed, boiled, etc.) or as EDAMAME which is the soybean not fully grown. It is also used in many plant-based processed foods because of it NUTRITION (HIGH IN PROTEIN) and it’s MALLEABILITY (making it easier to shape into those delicious vegan Chick’n drumsticks you’ve seen but haven’t tried yet). Let’s take a look at 4 THINGS TO THINK ABOUT before JUDGING or being SCARED OF SOY:
Soy & Phytoestrogens—One HUGE MISCONCEPTION that I have heard and CONTINUE TO HEAR is that soy will increase estrogen levels. First off, ESTROGEN is a hormone found in EVERY LIVING BEING and serves different purposes and is in different amounts in different living beings. In humans, estrogen is a hormone VERY IMPORTANT for a woman’s reproductive system. MEN also HAVE a form of ESTROGEN in their body also very important for their reproductive system! Estrogen also plays similar roles in other mammals, but when we eat it from PLANTS…it’s a little different. Phytoestrogens are compounds found in specific plants such as soy beans. They are also SHAPED like HUMAN ESTROGEN but they DO NOT BECOME OR ACT THE SAME AS human estrogen. When EATEN, just like any other plant it affects the body in different ways to both men and women:
Endocrine Disrupters—is mostly a concern when we are talking about bioengineered/genetically modified (keep reading below), there are also different ways soy interact with the body and there are different forms of soy that can be consumed, but most of what I read is that soy ends up protecting us from cancerous cells/disease/inflammation
Breast Cancer/Cancers—reduces cancerous cells, risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer in men and other cancers
Menopausal Symptoms—reduces symptoms of hot flashes and other symptoms in women with menopause
Heart Disease/Cholesterol/Blood Pressure—lowers cholesterol (LDL) and other bad fats, overall higher soy intake decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases but it really depends on the form of soy you are consuming
If you are still scared, remember that EGGS are FULL OF ESTROGEN NATURALLY. The GOVERNMENT APPROVES STEROID HORMONES, GROWTH HORMONES and SYNTHETIC HORMONES all of which have ESTROGEN. One article mentioned that there are traces of phytoestrogens in cow's milk WHICH MAKES SENSE because of the type of food cows are fed (mostly soy). Basically, you are intaking higher levels of estrogen if you are a eating ANIMAL PRODUCTS.
Soybeans & Monsanto—Monsanto, (recently bought out by BAYER), was a bioengineering/drug company that has gotten A BAD REP, and for good reasons. They’re an old company (established in 1901) that have made/sold many products (aspirin, synthetic sweeteners, rubber, pesticides, herbicides) —but the main focus of today are their bioengineered SOY BEANS they forced farmers to use.
From the DEEP DIVE of research articles and documentaries I’ve used for this and my previous studies in my masters program of public health, MONSANTOS HAS MADE DANGEROUS PRODUCTS—
and now it’s TIME TO WATCH OUT what bayer is doing since they are responsible for the old company. From the history record Monsanto has had with their herbicide, round-up (causing lesions, farmers lymphoma and other SHORT-TERM & LONG-TERM HEALTH issues)…you tell me if they can be trusted. Monsanto has had BILLION dollar law suits against them for causing harm to hundreds of thousands of farmers and others that have used their herbicide repeatedly. DING.. DING.. DING.. RED FLAGS... Remember too that it’s not only humans consuming these, most of these crops (CORN AND SOY) had and have Round Up and other man-made chemicals fed to COWS, CHICKEN, & PIGs. And remember if you aren’t vegan YOUR BODY IS INDIRECTLY INTAKING THESE CHEMICALS y eating animals. A quote by the USDA (also supported by WWF, and other organizations):
“Just over 70 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are used for animal feed, with poultry being the number one livestock sector consuming soybeans, followed by hogs, dairy, beef and aquaculture”
Morally they have threatened and forced farmers to use Monsanto BRANDED GENETICALLY ENGINEERED/MODIFIED/BIOENGINEERED SOY BEANS. I have a lot of thoughts about GMOs, but mainly there are very few farmers in the U.S that are allowed to use NON-GMO seeds. According to the USDA apparently "more than 90% of soybean production is bioengineered soybean" which means the man-made soybean may contain the herbicide. WHAT ELSE IS IN THOSE MODIFIED SEEDS? WHY CAN’T FOOD REGROW FROM THESE SEEDS? WHY ARE COMPANIES AGAINST GMO LABELING? All questions that we SHOULD BUT DON’T HAVE ANSWERS TO. Watch this documentary for more: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JszHrMZ7dx4
I personally try to buy non-gmo/non-bioengineered tofu/soy foods but it’s not always possible. Knowing how to read labels is also really important (https://www.nongmoproject.org/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-bioengineered-be-food-labeling/).
Soy & Processed Food—Many plant-based meat alternatives use soy and even though soy is a plant, these “meats” are processed which means there is human manipulation. Foods that are processed, even vegan, have to be preserved somehow, whether it be using increased amount of salt, added sugars, dehydration, or other ways. Compared to animal processed foods, vegan processed foods NORMALLY DON’T HAVE artificial flavoring, additives or excess fats, so I normally say eating vegan alternatives is better than animals products. BUT, there are still some that exist.
For example, SOY MILK is vegan which has LITTLE TO NO FAT but tends to have HIGH AMOUNT OF ADDED SUGARS. For my weight loss clients or clients with health conditions looking to transition to eating healthier I would recommend drinking unseated soy milk, or suggest OAT or UNSWEETENED almond milk. Just remember, just because it’s vegan DOESN’T MEAN IT IS HEALTHY. There are different levels to a food being called “processed” but Healing FoodFully mostly recommends sticking to the natural food as much as possible. A year ago I started my RAW VEGAN JOURNEY straying away little by little AWAY from PROCESSED FOODS all together.
Soy & Amino Acids—amino acids are chemical structures that make up the foundation of protein. There are essential and nonessential amino acids:
Non-essential Amino acids are aminos (protein building blocks) that CAN be produced by the body naturally
Essential amino acids are nine aminos that CANNOT be produced by the body and need to be obtained externally (mainly through food)
The amazing thing about soy is IT’S ONE OF THE FEW plant-based foods that is a COMPLETE PROTEIN, meaning it has ALL the ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS. This makes it easy for new vegans, current vegans and FITNESS NUTS to get their protein. Read my other article “How to Build Muscle as a Vegan”
Remember everything in EXCESS can have harmful effects. I hope you enjoyed and learned some new facts about soy. Please share/spread the knowledge!