As mentioned in my first post on this blog “You are what you eat.. a Vegan Food Activist” I discuss the fact that I stay away from processed food as much as possible. Frankly, this has become even more important to me since then with the top reasons being health: knowing what’s in the food and that is it fresh and full of nutrients, social and economic justice: knowing that everyone involved is getting paid a decent wage and being treated fairly as well as putting money into the local economy, and environmental justice: knowing where the food came from and knowing its impact on the environment.
With this in mind, it can make life difficult when not eating meat. Most people automatically assume that eating soy-based meat substitute products is par for the course and when I tell them that I generally don’t eat those products, they have trouble imagining what I could possibly be eating for a protein. First, I tell them that there are many wonderful proteins available in beans, nuts and grains. Second, though I do occasionally eat organic tofu and soy sauce, I tend to avoid soy products as a rule.
As someone who, first and foremost, avoids processed food, this automatically cuts out soy that is somehow made to look and taste like sausage. I used to be quite impressed with how the companies were doing this. How could you possibly make soy look and taste like sausage? Well.. exactly! The more ingredients on the list, the more manufacturers involved, the more people involved in the process, the more likely it is that the ingredients came from a large variety of sources and locations, and the less information we have available to us for an informed decision.
When walking through a grocery store, take a look at the ingredients of the products you pick up. Especially with foods like crackers and breads; how many of them have some sort of soy product listed? Sure, soy has proven to be one of the most versatile and nutritious plants on the planet and because of this the demand has skyrocketed. We are vegetarians and vegans (or trying to have a more healthful diet), but we still want our meat and dairy. And our soap, cosmetics, plastics, inks, solvents, clothing, alcohol, oil, biodiesel, flour, livestock feed and many other products.
Our desire for soy and beef and exotic woods are the primary causes for the depletion of one of the world’s greatest sources of biodiversity and oxygen: The Amazon Rainforest. Yes, people are cutting down the amazon for soy production.
Keep that in mind the next time you reach for that soyburger.