Tofu and Soy

Wow, lots of feedback on my soy blog last week in which I said we should avoid tofu and there were lots of good questions and comments. Obviously this is an explosive topic; much more so than I had expected, truth be told. This has lead me to try to clarify a few things this week in a follow up.

First of all I should try to defend myself a little here. Some people seemed to get the impression from the blog that I am a vegetarian-hating meat-promoter. I know that I said that vegetarians would be “better off” eating meat than eating these highly-processed soy products, but I was really just trying to make a strong point. To me, it seemed like an extreme suggestion that no one would take literally, but I guess some people did. For the record, I have absolutely nothing against vegetarians, and don’t think they should switch back to meat.Some people went so far as to suggest that I work for the beef industry. I don’t work for, or get money or any other benefit from, any food industry. In fact, I don’t get paid by any industry at all, including any industry that would benefit from the death of soy. Although, let’s look at that for a second – would the beef industry actually benefit from the death of the soy industry? Modern cattle production relies on the soy industry for cheap feed, so getting rid of soy would actually make their costs go up. And do you think that meat industry execs actually think that without soy, vegetarians would convert to full on beef eaters?! I can’t see them being that naive.

Which brings me to another point – there are more options out there than simply soy or meat. Although the soy industry has tried hard to suggest otherwise, just because you are a vegetarian does not mean you need to eat soy. As I stated in the soy blog piece there are many options for the vegetarian out there. By combining vegetarian sources to maximize your proteins you can quite happily exist as a vegetarian without soy. Many traditional cultures that existed on this planet as vegetarians had no access whatsoever to soy. Despite this fact, they were able to thrive for centuries.

Which brings me to yet another point – I’m not suggesting eliminating all soy from your diet, only that you eliminate unfermented soy. I still completely support the consumption of fermented soy products like tempeh, miso, nato and naturally fermented soy sauce. These are beneficial products that are a good part of a healthy diet. If you absolutely love tofu, try switching to tempeh instead. Admittedly, the flavor and texture are different, but tempeh is a tasty addition to many dishes. I always marinate mine in something first since it’s so good at sucking up other flavors. Or if you like using soy milk, try using a nut milk instead. I recommend making your own.

Like I said, this seems to be an explosive topic and one that needs more time than is allowed for in this blog. I’ve found an excellent site based out of New Zealand that goes into a great deal of detail about the soy issue. I hope you have a chance to check it out (the FAQ is brief, but informative).