I was under the impression that turning to soy and tofu was the natural direction to head once you ditched meat in favour of something that didn’t once moo or cluck and used to have feelings. Doing a bit of research about eating vegan and using soy as a staple made me realise that a lot of people have fallen into the same trap, even ones who have been doing vego/vegan for awhile. Although I have been coming across increasingly more people that would indicate that they were “limiting” their soy intake, and I began to wonder why.
It doesn’t take much looking to learn that unfermented soy is in everything. Apparently the type of soy that is used and processed is tremendously toxic and overall something that needs to be avoided if at all possible, including tofu. There has been a lot of research that shows that soy in this format can cause an innumerable collection of health problems. This helpful page at Optimum Choices outlines what some of those problems are. It also provides links to an entire book (The Whole Soya Story) written on the subject that covers this issue in great detail.
Dr. Mercola is a specialist in nutrition and has one of the top nutrition websites. On it, he does a good job of describing why the evil unfermented soy is bad for you, but also talks about the soy savior, fermented soy. Halfway down his page on the good and bad of soy, he talks about fermented soy which has been something that Japanese people have been eating for thousands of years. There are a number of benefits including Vitamin K2 which is “essential to preventing osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diseases of the brain such as dementia, and protecting you from various cancers including prostate, lung, liver cancer and leukemia.” He indicates that fermented soy comes in a variety of types/styles:
- Tempeh a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
- Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
So it seems that jumping on board the vego/vegan train is not so straightforward as to stock up on soy milk and tofu. I have come across plenty of vegan recipes and websites and the overarching theme I see is that eating stuff that you prepare yourself (not processed) is a must. Many people don’t realise the issues with soy though and avoiding unfermented soy where possible will be added to that list of things to do. Unfortunately, this precludes getting meat-like products, many of which are made from soy:
- TVP (texturized vegetable protein) or soy protein isolate, which contains a large amount of msg, which you should definitely not consume
The Healthy Living website outlines the basic alternatives to tofu for still getting protein in a veg diet: seitan, beans, nuts/seeds and coconut milk.
Looking at that list, I realise a couple of things: one, I really am getting in deep with this change of diet and it seemed that eating just was so easy before! However, number two is that I realise how careless we are in general with what we eat right from the toxic crap we fill our bodies with through to the dodgy ways we acquire that food, from destroying rain forests, GM crops and foods rich in refined sugar to torturing innocent animals and filling our air and water with impurities. It really is no wonder that we as a society are fat, sick and dying.
Well, it’s off to the shops tomorrow to stock up on some new food…should be exciting!