Welcome to the last installment (for now) on my series entitled: “What do you not understand about veganism?” To tie it up, I am tackling one big issue with men. I spoke about soy proteins earlier in this series, but as usual I started hearing the same questions and comments I always receive from my guy friends: “I heard soy will give me man boobs” or “will soy lower my sex drive?”
The answer is both yes and no. Yes, the “bad stuff” will build up in your system and cause an overload of estrogen in both men and women. Where is the overload coming from? What is this “bad stuff”? Three words to remember: soy protein isolate. This derivative of soy is created in a lab process which extracts the protein from the soy and leaves the rest (i.e. the fiber, nutrients, etc.) This derivative is used widely in meat products and dry goods like cereal. I’ve even seen it in crackers.
The Bad Stuff
Sly SPI is sneaking its way into your everyday diet even if you aren’t actively seeking soy. So, if you’re not an avid label reader, you may already be on your way to a lil’ soy overload. Now couple that with your new decision to go vegan for a meal or two per week and boom! You’re your way to a nice B-cup. Why? The first ingredient in most of the “fake meat” proteins is soy protein isolate.
The best way to incorporate soy into your diet is on your own terms. Label reading is a habit you have to form. I do it so much it’s become second nature. I like to think about my body as a business; a small corporation, if you will. You can’t keep the books balanced and cash flowing in (or good health, in this case) unless you have a handle on every aspect of your business. Attention to detail is vital. It’s the difference between a Fortune 500 company and something that just gets by. But I digress.
The bottom line: Establish balance in your diet. Just like you wouldn’t have red meat with every meal, control your soy intake. Even if you’re not choosing tofu at every meal, read labels to make sure soy isn’t sneaking into your food when your back is turned.
The good stuff
Not all soy is the laboratory-altered “bad stuff.” Japanese and Chinese cultures have eaten soy (and wheat) proteins for many years. Remember, they invented tofu, and Asian men do not all have floppy moobs and problems reproducing. So what are our brothas from the Far East doing? Getting it closer to the source. Other companies stateside get this concept and strive to keep their soy pure, non-GMO and healthy. Here are some I recommend:
- Chicago Soydairy (Currently undergoing a name change to Chicago Vegan Foods) is responsible for yummy things like Dandies Marshmallows, Teese Vegan Cheese and Temptation Vegan Ice Cream.
- Island Spring produces quality Japanese-style tofu. They are certified non-GMO and operate out of the Pacific Northwest.
- Earth Balance is, of course, the creator of the well known buttery spread that was responsible for the vegan baking movement. They recently began making coconut shortening and soy milk.
For the record, I have eaten soy all my life and no moobs for me — and the equipment works just fine.
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