Soy Controversy

What’s my take on soy? I believe things are safe as long as you don’t develop an exclusive diet based on it. That is, variety is important. A traditional Indian diet has plenty of variety for its sources of vegetable protein. It’s no harm if your source of protein over a month is mung dhal, toor dhal, chana dhal, kala chana, urad dhal, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and soy beans. But if you’re going to be using soy as your main protein source (via soy burgers, tofu, etc) or drinking soy milk three times a day, then I’d say you’re asking for trouble (regardless of any controversy surrounding the dangers of soy beans).

People quote China and Japan who consume soy in large quantities. They have different diets, environmental conditions, and genetics. What’s good for one culture, environment, people, may not necessarily be good for others. I’ll give you a few examples:

  1. Soy beans have high levels of phytic acid, which inhibits assimilation of important mineral nutrients. But if you have fish based diet (as in Japan) this is compensated.
  2. It is well known today that aluminum is linked with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinsons Disease. But in Kerala, where they use aluminum pots for cooking, they have almost no occurrences of either. It was found because the turmeric they use in their stew preparations blocks the hazardous effect of aluminium.
  3. You can live excellently as a vegetarian in India. But the same does not apply if you move to the UK, even if all the vegetarian food items you need are available there. This is because of low levels of sunlight in the UK. White people have the ability to soak up more sunlight to produce all the Vitamin D they need (for healthy bones). But dark skin people need to expose themselves at least twice as much. In the UK probably even more, because apart from low levels of sunlight, you’re all bundled up because of cold weather. So either, dark-skinned people will need to take Vitamin D supplements (or food fortified with Vitamin D), or bear the cold and expose themselves more to the sunlight, or start eating meat.

The Soy Industry

Before we get to the dangers of soy, let’s take a look at who’s behind the soy industry. About 90% of the worlds soy beans seed supply is owned by one very infamous company, Monsanto (see Monsanto link below).

There’s nothing inherently “evil” about a company itself. It’s all about mass production and mass marketing. If the USA where to mass-produce Mung Dhal or Toor Dhal at terrifically automated and massive scale, then it would be brainwashing the whole world saying Mung Dhal is the source of vegetable protein.

Bear in mind that the soy industry is a multi-billion dollar industry operating at a mind-boggling scale. The industry is finding uses for soy everywhere: it is a fast growing dairy substitute (milk, yogurt), meat substitute, emulsifiers (soy lecithin), cooking oil, resins, plastics, soaps, soy-fiber, filler material, bio-fuel for vehicles. Each of these are by no means trivial, but are huge consumers (as in thousands of metric tons of soy).

Now that you are aware of the high stakes involved, bear in mind that in the last 3 decades, university research has been highly influenced by funding from corporations. So the great battles of soy industry, meat industry, dairy industry, etc. are fought in universities. For example, if there are 90 out of 100 publications listing out dangers soy, only the 10 publications that showcases soy as safe will be the ones which make there way to the FDA, thanks to its corruption by powerful industrial lobbies (there was an entire PBS series on this, but how many people probably even watched it?).

Dangers of Soy

I’m not too sure about the dangers of soy, but nevertheless find no reason to embrace the soy bean craze, because there are over dozens of time-tested sources of vegetable protein (numerous varieties of dhals and millets) in India that I don’t see the need for to look elsewhere or to fall for some sort of mass-market brainwashing.

Here are some articles on the dangers of soy. You be the judge:

You have to carefully read any article. Lot of these articles (or the research work that goes into it) are funded by the corporations.

As I said, I have no reason to bother going for soy as my vegetarian source of protein when I have plenty of other vegetable sources. Variety is the key. Unfortunately people respond to marketing like a heard of goats. If marking talks about all the glory and greatness of olive oil, they will drop all other valuable oils (equally time-tested healthy oils like sesame and coconut) and run after olive oil. If the West had coconut trees on massive scale, then they would have effectively propagated and brainwashed everyone that coconut oil is the best, and everyone would be running after and advertising “made with extra-virgin coconut [or sesame] oil” in their food preparations.

I’ll leave you with this thought: For well over thousand years India knew about soy, but used it only for cattle manure or crop rotation. When they included so many other beans in their food, for human consumption, why not soy? Did they, in their infinite wisdom know something that we didn’t? Or something that we do know, but don’t wish to acknowledge, but prefer to remain wilfully ignorant about?

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