Soy or soya beans and its derivatives have been staples in many food cultures for centuries. Soy has played a role in nearly every vegetarian or vegan diet in some form before the current meatless meals movement became mainstream. However, in recent years, soy’s reputation has come under scrutiny, deemed by some as a contributor to several modern medical controversies.
Soy products do contain phytoestrogens, which are compounds that have chemical structures and functions similar to estrogen. The most widely studied types may be found in edible plants and soy has an abundance of a particular phytoestrogen, called isoflavones. For that reason, theory based population studies have made it possible to suggest beneficial effects for postmenopausal women and people potentially affected by heart disease, bone disease, and breast and prostate cancers. Unfortunately, there is also so much publicized conflicting information due to a lack of well designed studies that consider influencing factors and the length of the observation time to make evidence based recommendations.
Soy is used worldwide as animal feed and has led to monocrop agricultural practices, the proliferation of genetically modified organisms to enhance its hardiness, and changes to our ecology and plant and wildlife habitats. Also, the prevalence of food allergies appears to be on the rise. According to the National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, five percent of children and four percent of adults in the United States are affected by some food allergy. Soy is among the top eight foods that cause allergic reactions.
But, but, but … it is also worth mentioning that soy has various commercial uses that show up in our everyday lives, as well: fuel, construction materials, paints, auto parts, candles, plant based cleaning products, apparel, footwear, and more.
But, What About the Food Though?
Although soy has received a bad rap in modern times, it has been a jack of all trades in foodland for centuries. Think of everything we get from this humble plant - a versatile protein source that comes in different textures and moisture contents. It takes on any flavor you command. Let’s not forget to mention the oils, chips, meat and milk alternatives, fermented products, soy sauce, amino acid preparations that we use to create various flavor and interest in meals. Did you know that one cup of tofu provides 18 grams of protein, nine grams of fat, and three grams of carbs? As for vitamins and minerals: calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins, beta carotene and more.
Soy is very much a part of our modern day lives, but it’s up to you to determine how large its role will be. In our opinion, it’s best to incorporate a variety of foods in your diet so that you're not consuming too much of any one or two things. Too much of anything, even kale, is not the business.
Check out some of our favorite soy/tofu recipes:
Be sure to check out more of our plant-based dinner recipes.
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The Vgn Way