Killer Tofu.

Via Angela Raines
on Sep 23, 2010
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5 Reasons to Skip Soy — Even if You’re Vegetarian.

It’s practically a pandemic.  Soy burgers, tofurkey, soy milk, soy candles for friggin’ sake.  You can’t shake a Bhakti Chai without hitting a soy product these days, and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if everybody wasn’t still under this mass delusion that it’s actually good for you. The ugly truth, my friends, is that soy’s a massive industry that’s wreaking havoc on our health and the planet. I won’t tell you to give it up completely, but read on to see why you might want to be choosier about it — and probably cut back.

1. Premenstrual soy-drome (Moobs, anyone?)

The modern, mass-produced soybean is a radically different animal than the wild soybean found in traditional Asian cuisine, and eating it has radically different effects.  While wild soy, especially when fermented, contains phytoestrogens that are sometimes associated with lower cancer rates, processed and unfermented soy contains high levels of xenoestrogens, which whack out your hormones in all sorts of ways, including accelerating the onset of puberty and contributing to breast cancer. (Also see this 2001 study.) If that doesn’t turn you off your Boca Burgers, consider that soy has also been linked to other health problems, including, “malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility, cancer, and heart disease.”

2. Tofuburger, hold the splice.

Although it’s slowly getting better, soy isan overwhelmingly genetically modified (GMO) crop: over 90% of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified. GMOs are bad news, and don’t belong in your body or planet. But soy’s environmental toll doesn’t stop there.  The demand for this little bean is so high that in Brazil (the world’s largest producer), there’s currently a moratorium in effect for the fourth year in a row, because of concerns over rapid deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

3. Guilty by association [when you lie with (hot) dogs, you get (salt) fleas.]

Most of the soy we eat is in packaged, heavily processed food. So often (no, not always), when we consume soy, we’re also downing loads of preservatives, sodium, emulsifiers, and other things not truly fit to eat. We all know we need to be eating more whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, for our health. Cutting out anything that contains soy can be one handy shortcut to promoting this lifestyle.

4. Protein, shmotein!

One of the biggest reasons people claim soy’s such a very-necessary superfood is that it’s a healthier alternative to protein.  And we all need protein, right?  Um, no. So the reasoning goes: you need protein to build muscle. Yet when’s the time in our lives when we’re building the most mass, muscle or otherwise? When we’re infants. The perfect food for infants, breast milk, contains somewhere around 7% calories from protein. That’s it! Look, I’m not a biochemist, nor a nutritionist. But I do know that you can have exquisite health and build gorgeous muscles without getting protein.  Check out beautiful Mr. Nature Love (100% raw vegan) and listen to one of my biggest heroes, tower racer Tim Van Orden (also 100% raw vegan), break down the Protein Myth:

Even if you’re vegetarian, you can get plenty of protein from fruits veggies without worrying about needing soy.

And my personal biggest reason to skip soy?


My goodness, the world abounds with such vibrant, beautiful, juicy, food! Why on earth, surrounded by this abundance, would you choose to eat food that doesn’t taste like anything? Have you popped pomegranate arils in your mouth before? Have buried your face in a wet, drippy mango recently?! People love to praise soy for its ability to “take on” other flavors. Gimme a break. That sounds like impoverished tasting to me. Just eat things that are already delicious — there are so many!!

So what now?

~ If you do choose to eat soy, please make sure it’s organic and fermented. Here’s a great resource that lists common soy products and rates how organic they are. Eden = awesome. Silk = purty darn bad, guys. And if you’ve got any risk factors for breast cancer, moderation is probably a good idea.

~ If you’re still concerned about getting enough protein, and want vegetarian sources, consider other legumes, like delicious cannelini beans.

~ What about dairy-free milk and creamer? Ah, never fear!! Nut milks (or “mylks,” if you’re cutsier than me) are incredibly easy to make at home (I’ve even done it!!). Just throw a cup of nuts (preferably soaked overnight) in a blender with 2-3 cups water. Almonds are awesome, but you can use any nut or seed, really — I’ve used hazelnuts and hemp seeds with great success. After blending well, strain the nut pulp through cheesecloth (or a paint strainer or nylons). Then, if you want, you can put it back in the blender with a pinch of salt and something to sweeten it (dates, honey, agave) and even some vanilla. Presto, shazzam, and voila, my friends! Pop it in the fridge and it’ll last about 3-5 days. You can even re-use the same nut pulp several times to make more! Here’s the lovely Brigitte Mars in a quick video showing you how:


About Angela Raines

Angela Raines hails from "America's most dangerous city," St. Louis, MO. She recently moved to Boulder, CO (as one does) to write, do yoga, and sit. So far, this has worked out beyond her wildest dreams. She completed an editorial internship at Elephant Journal and still writes for them when Waylon reminds her. She landed a job at the company of her dreams, Integral Life, and is currently putting her third-person writing skills to work in her own online writing business, Conscious Copywriting. Her main teachers are Jun Po Roshi and Ken Wilber. She is an enthusiast of all things yogic, contemplative, and chocolate.


71 Responses to “Killer Tofu.”

  1. Nicole says:

    Thanks for finally sharing the truth about the nastyness of soy … I was on soy formula as a baby and boy did that crap make me a butterball!! My mom would have people commenting “oh she hasn’t missed many meals has she?” bad soy!! However, protein is not a myth and I don’t believe veganism is the healthy way – but if that’s your choice more power to you, but it’s not THE choice. Check out “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gadgaudas – grt book and packed with amazing info!!

  2. Lily says:

    The vast majority of fruits and vegetables have no protein at all. The information about soy is likely correct, but that statement is not. You do not need to consume much protein, but it is necessary, and you cannot get it from fruits and vegetables. You can produce complete proteins by eating a variety of legumes and grains to provide your cells with the correct combination of components.

  3. I believe this is one of the most significant info for me. And i am happy studying your article. However want to remark on some common things, The site style is ideal, the articles is actually great : D. Excellent task, cheers

  4. AndreasNYC says:

    Any large, controlled, peer-reviewed studies that back-up the claims making people worry about soy?? Most seem to complain about GMO's & pesticides … so just buy Organic & done. None of the links on your link seem to point to any and many are broken. Trying to keep info accurate as lots of soy bashing has been piling-on other people piling on or theoretical ideas without actual large, well-designed people studies validating what they guess will happen.

  5. annabel says:

    I was under the impression that the vast majority of the world's soybean crops were used for livestock feed? is that true? not to say at all that this author was promoting eating livestock but i thought it was worth bringing up.

  6. AndrewPaciocco says:

    So….The major argument is chemicals, GMO, and the lack of color of tofu? Oh and a misinformed part about protein? I don't think the solution is skipping the soy. I think the solution is to support your organic industry, do some research and learn that protein needs are based on weight and is loosely somewhere in the 35-45g for women and 45-55g for men. I'll give credit for the processed and salt laden comments, even organic soy foods fall into that trap. Moderation is the key to any food source. Completely ruling soy out is just unnecessary and a little silly.

  7. Omi says:

    Great article, except the comment about adding agave to nut milks – beware the hype on agave also…check it out.

  8. Emily says:

    This article isn’t accurate. For accurate info check out Dr Gregor at Avoid processed soy products & over 5 servings a day. It is a healthy source of protein. It is fun to type man boobs, but it isn’t remotely accurate. Also pick organic varieties .

  9. Sara says:

    What's wrong with soy candles? Far better for the air and environment than the mainstream paraffin ones out there to clog up your lungs….They also don't burn as hot as beeswax so last longer.

  10. Elise says:

    If you care about women's rights to reproductive freedom, consider skipping Eden products altogether…

  11. Sorry to see yet another poorly sourced article promoting the anti-soy agenda…as just one example, the title…"Killer Tofu"…really? As usual, antisoy ppl use the worst case scenario (GMO not organic/heavily processed) to try and prove their case…the 2001 study…did yoiu read it? you would have seen that higher concentrations of phytoestrogens were found to be PROTECTIVE, and lower concentrations were the problem…why not just promote a whole foods vegan diet and leave it at that?

  12. i disagree with this article as a human will soy is and soy does phenomenally the soy industry is disected and pumped up through the cow slaughtering scientific rejectory perspective its important to metabolise individually and find this negative soy bashing to be a bunch of BS…

  13. Arthur says:

    There's an awful lot of bombast, polemics and poor science in this article, as well as fearmongering. It's wise to avoid GMO and non-organic soy for some of the reasons mentioned, and processed soy foods, or foods that contain processed soy are not necessarily a good idea either, though it takes discipline to avoid them completely as they are in so many foods today). And there certainly are situations where even good quality soy should be either reduced or avoided. Nor do I mean to say soy is a superfood and should be a major part of anyone's diet. But to totally dismiss organic soy products like tofu, tempeh and miso is just silly, and a disservice to readers. And the take on protein is, well, stupid. (Granted, we need far less protein than most people think, and we don't need animal protein at all, but the rest is hooey.). Ill informed articles like this drive me crazy.

  14. Lila says:

    Wtf is a person to eat? I'm so frustrated and wish we as humans dint have to eat anything. I'm so sick of being poisoned and constantly being lied to. I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing good to eat anymore. Nothing!

  15. Alex says:

    I think a better introduction to the article would have been to avoid highly processed and GM soy, instead of soy is bad for you, as this is mainly what the article is saying. Also, there is no myth that a healthy diet requires protein, that is a fact. I believe the recommendation is 0.8 g/kg body weight per day. There are 9 essential amino acids that must be consumed through the diet. Protein doesn't just build muscle, that is a poor generalization; protein is vital to the structure and function of every cell.

  16. Scott says:

    Amen. I find this article largely irresponsible. I'm not a huge fan of processed soy, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons not to eat it…but misinformation is not cool.

  17. Sarah says:

    Oh my god what a relief to read this comment and surprisingly only two or three others like it… I just can't figure out why people keep saying this crap. I haven't been able to find any trust worthy sources with any evidence to these claims. Our estrogens are way different and about 1000 times stronger than that of a soy bean so its not really capable of binding to ours in such a way as to cause cancer. Turns out, we're not beans.

  18. Heather says:

    I was thinking the same thing. A person does not have to get their protein from an animal source or soy in order to get their protein. However, it's misleading to say that there are amino acids in everything and that that is good enough. We do need protein, which we can construct from amino acids. But, one must eat all the essential amino acids with in a certain time window of each other in order for them to be useful. Otherwise, unused amino acids are flushed out as a waste product.

    Therefore, foods must be eaten in the right combinations in order to get the protein a body needs if one is not going to eat a more complete protein source.

  19. souldoula says:

    This article is not entirely accurate, but in so far as it promotes critical thinking around the myth of soy as a health food, it is useful. It's important to distinguish between traditional, organic, fermented soy products like miso and tempeh, and highly-processed, industrial products made with carcinogenic ISP (e.g. boca burgers and clif bars). As others have pointed out, the author misses a number of health concerns associated with the latter. For more see

  20. Robin Turner says:

    Second that. The author is right in assuming that vegans do not need soy to get protein, but not because protein isn't necessary. Protein is absolutely vital, but it's found in all legumes, not just soy.

  21. Ahimsa says:

    The problem is not tofu. The problem is soy protein isolates, which is in highly processed otherwise bad for you foods. Whole soy has been found in recent research to be fine. Tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame, soy milk are healthy and fine to eat. Organic is best and of course who wants GMOs. But this is old and very poor information.