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Considering Soy

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There is monumental difference between whole soya bean products such as tofu, edamame, soya milk, tempeh, miso and soya sauce, and the residue of soybeans which is used in soya protein supplements or soya based meat substitutes.  This is called soya protein extract. Soybeans are ‘defatted’, a process that removes the oil and used to make vegetarian sausages, mince, mock meats and TVP. It is also widely used as padding in meat pies and pasties which is why ‘soya’ is so often found listed as an ingredient in processed foods. Soya protein extract has less health benefits as many of the nutrients of the whole soya beans are removed in the defatting process. These proteins are sometimes then processed with hydrogenated fat, salt, sugar and even artificial additives. The bulk of soy consumed in the West has been highly processed.

SOY and health

TOFU is made from the whole bean and has a higher nutritional value than soya protein extract and no toxins.

Soya is well researched as a nutritional component that, as we have discovered, has been a part of the diets of millions of adults and children in Asia for centuries. Some detractors have launched an anti-soya campaign in the media which has caused a certain amount of confusion regarding the health benefits of soya. However, there is very little scientific evidence to support their claims. Any health concerns about the negative effect of soya are based on research either in test tubes or animal experiments rather than on humans. Animals metabolise soya very differently to humans so these experiments are unreliable. There are no adverse effects of soya on male hormones and the reproductive function in humans. Isoflavone levels in the western diet are no more than in Asian countries where no evidence of any negative effects of soy have been detected. In 25 years of scientific study, the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has shown that soya reduces cholesterol and is anti-carcinogenic and found NO harmful effects

Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen and include genistein and daidzein. phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds similar to the animal hormone, oestrogen, but not as strong.

SOY and the Environment

In terms of their environmental impact, it is important to make a distinction between soya grown as fodder and soya beans that are grown for human consumption such as tofu and soya milk.

Environmentally, soya is less damaging than any other pea or bean. And it’s much more important.

Approx 80% of soya plants are grown to be animal fodder, or as de-fatted soya protein extract used to pad out processed meat goods. A very small percentage of the soya grown is dedicated to making tofu. If the cultivation of soya beans was simply for whole soya products such as tofu then no one could talk about a negative environmental impact of soya on the environment.

The demand for soya grows as the global demand for meat increases.  The lack of arable land available for growing vast amounts of soya for fodder or grazing has led to the destruction of rainforests by multinational corporations.  Land could be used to grow crops to feed people.

Deforestation associated with the cultivation of soya is due to meat and dairy industries.

Soybeans can feed more people per acre than almost any other plant but the highest demand for soybeans is as animal feed for farmed livestock. Rather than feeding people directly, soya plants are fed to animals for them to produce meat and milk.

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