Bookmark and Share April 21, 2010 - Dave Mulder

Mailbag: What about soy?

Today’s mailbag offers an interesting question about soy food products.

dear eatingrealfood man: what is your take on boca products, and soy products in general? is too much never enough? can you really get soy-protein overload like I’ve heard?

Soy products, generally, are meat analogues. Meat analogues resemble actual meat products, like burgers and beef jerky. The nutritional advantage to soy is that it offers protein for vegetarians. Socially, soy analogues also allow vegetarians to dine at the same establishments as non-vegetarians while enjoying the same kind of meal.

Personally, I avoid foods that pretend to be other foods. If I’m going to eat a burger, or bacon, or jerky, it’s because I have chosen to eat a burger, or bacon, or jerky. As far as nutrition, vegetarians can get plenty of protein from beans, nuts, and a diverse plate of greens.

Soy analogues also tend to taste like crap. But if you’re okay with that, there’s nothing particularly wrong with fake meat. Just try to grab an organic version.

What about soy protein burnout? There’s not much to it, unless you’re a post-menopausal woman. Certainly, there may be differences in how our bodies metabolize varying protein sources. And those differences may cascade into significant hormonal and physiological processes. There’s not much research here, and what has been published is nowhere near conclusive.

Conclusion: If I was going to eat a soy analogue, it would probably be because the only alternative was industrial meat. But don’t let my opinion stop you.

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