I love things that promise to deliver
the truth. There’s something captivating about anything that can be so singular
and simple and earnest, as if there’s a great big lake of truth out there we
only have to stumble upon to guide us in all matters, dietary and otherwise.
So Felicity Lawrence’s article, “The
truth about soya”, in a recent issue of
really grabbed me the other day as I ate my porridge
swimming in soy milk. (“Soya” is British; “soy” the North American variant, all
from the Dutch “soja”, from the Malay “soi”.)
As I breakfasted away and poured
myself more organic, GMO-free soy milk, it was with a half-cocked eyebrow that
I pored through Ms. Lawrence’s article as it effectively poked more needles
into the ever-inflating soy balloon. Many of these arguments aren’t new, but
they’re ones that vegetarians, lactose-intolerant people, menopausal women and
all-round general health-food eaters, including myself, don’t like to hear.
Soy is big food business. In 1965,
worldwide soy production was around 30 million tonnes; last year nine times
that amount was produced, or about 270 million tonnes.
In Britain, they estimate about 60
per cent of all processed food contains soy in one form or another. It can be
whole soy or one of its many components, including soy flour, hydrolyzed
vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, textured vegetable protein, vegetable
oil (or some form thereof, such as hydrogenated veggie oil), plant sterols or
lecithin, the latter which is worshipped by health junkies for staving off
dreaded oxidants and free radicals, and by chocoholics, for lecithin is the
emulsifier in cocoa butter.
Besides the obvious soy milk and
soy-based weenies, if you read your food labels you might be surprised to find
soy in cakes, noodles, pastries, breakfast cereal and cereal bars, sandwich
spreads, desserts, sausage casings and even dog and cat food.
Of course, in vegetarian and vegan
food, soy is regarded as the panacea for delivering protein without meat. But
many people, vegetarians included, are blissfully unaware that cheap soy feed
has also made the factory farming of livestock possible.
Soy is also used to enhance protein
content in processed meat products. It’s added to commercial baked products to
keep them from shrinking and, evil of evils, once it’s hydrogenated, soy oil is
used by the tonne — 34 million tonnes last year alone — to deep fry
all those super-sized fries and more.