Why I Eat Soy

It’s crazy to look back and realize I’ve been a vegetarian for almost a year now. I’m so happy I took the plunge and decided to do it. My life has changed in so many wonderful ways. I considered becoming a vegetarian for a long time before I did but I was nervous about getting enough protein. I’ve had countless people tell me that vegetarians don’t get enough protein and how detrimental that can be to one’s health. I can tell you that eleven months in to being a vegetarian I have not once had a problem getting enough protein. Calorie counting has helped me see that I consume on average 60 grams of protein a day following a vegetarian diet. That’s 10 grams over my needed amount of protein! Being a vegetarian just means you have to get a little bit more creative about where the protein comes from, it makes you really learn about the food you are putting into your body. Nuts and quinoa and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein. And so is soy.

Soy is something that I never ate as a meat eater. I didn’t know how to cook it and was just plain confused by it. Why order a veggie burger when I could get a real burger? Why order tofurkey when I could just eat regular turkey? Everyone has to make their own decision on how to feed their body in a way that is best for them. I truly don’t think there is one way to eat that is better than another. You can be a healthy meat eater and you can be an unhealthy vegetarian. People become vegetarians for a plethora of reasons. I personally liked the idea of decreasing the amount of chemicals and hormones going into my body, lowering the amount of cholesterol and fat I eat, and decreasing my carbon footprint. I love animals but also understand the circle of life. The animal rights issue is not a big reason that I went vegetarian but I totally understand that way of thinking. It’s the biggest reason Josh went vegetarian.

Since I mainly went vegetarian to improve my health I wanted to make sure I ate well-balanced, healthy meals, with complete proteins, healthy fats, good cholesterol, and complex carbs. I also didn’t want to feel like I lost any of my favorite foods. Soy products were a natural place for me to turn because they make products that can be cooked and served just like meat without having any meat in them. Soy protein is a high-quality, complete plant protein that is comparable to high-quality, animal-based proteins like meat, dairy, and eggs. It is naturally low in fat and saturated fat and meets adult’s daily protein requirements.

The biggest thing that took me from being a soy skeptic to a soy fan was the taste. I simply had to learn how to cook it! I like to think of soy as a sponge, it will take on the flavor of the things around it. I’ve shared this link a lot but if you are looking for an easy, quick, tasty recipe for tofu Mama Pea’s Tofu Dippers are amazing. You can also whip up a marinade for tofu or tempeh and grill it like you would meat or chicken. Or you can saute it up or add it to a stew and it will soak up all the hearty, smoky flavors and taste phenomenal. The possibilities really are endless.

Solae, a world leader in developing soy-based ingredients, asked me to share my thoughts on soy in this post. They have been honored with the 2011-2012 Ethisphere’s Ethics Inside Certification and were recognized as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I just finished up an intense business ethics class at school and can tell you those honors are a pretty big deal.

They sent me some information from a recent study titled, “Effect of Protein Blend vs. Whey Protein Ingestion on Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise.”  Dr. Blake Rasmussen, professor and interim chair of the Department of Nutrition & Metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch, found that a combination of proteins from whey, soy and casein extends the anabolic window after strength training. Protein helps muscles grow and recover during exercise, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein, stimulating muscle synthesis in the period following a workout, which drives additional muscle gain. Since muscles need a full day or two to recover after strength training, the researchers realized that a blend of “slow” (casein), “intermediate” (soy) and “fast” (whey) proteins help extend the anabolic window longer than whey protein alone, so that more growth can occur over time. By combining whey with soy and casein, it delivers a more balanced amino acid profile and provided prolonged delivery of critical nutrients to the muscle. Soy protein contains more glutamine and arginine than whey protein or casein. Glutamine plays a role in the immune system and is a precursor of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. Arginine, by increasing muscle blood flow, helps bring available nutrients to muscles to speed recovery and may play a role in immune response. I am still in the early stages of incorporating strength training into my fitness routine, I’m a cardio girl, but I know how important it is for muscles, bones, and overall health to pump some iron. This study helped me learn a lot about how to refuel after weight training, I had no idea soy protein was so beneficial to muscles! I want to make sure I am giving my muscles everything the need for optimum health.

When it comes to choosing which soy products to eat I make sure to do my research and find the ones that are best for me. I think soy is an incredibly healthy source of protein, but also one of many for vegetarians which is why I eat it in moderation. Soy is in everything so I strive for one to three full sized servings of soy a week in addition to the many products I eat daily that already contain soy as a filler. I also buy 100% organic soy to ensure it is of the highest quality and hasn’t been modified in a negative way. It’s what works for me and my body. :)

If you’re looking to learn more about soy, get your questions answered, or just talk with foodie and fitness fanatics Solae and Fitfluential will be hosting a Twitter chat on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 8 PM CST. Make sure to use the hashtag #SoyProtein and drop me a line, I’ll be tweeting up a storm!

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite soy based recipes? Please share links; I’m always looking for more tasty recipes to try!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.


    • says

      No we’re both vegetarian. Vegans don’t eat any form of animal products and I would die without cheese or eggs or milk. haha That’s a tofu shish kabob! It was soo good!

  1. says

    I was vegetarian for many years from high school on and protein intake was a big concern of mine. Since I’m Chinese, I was used to eating soy and tofu but I learned to love and embrace many other forms of soy especially tempeh. The great thing about soy is that it is like a sponge and you can be so creative with seasonings and marinades and you don’t always have to do the same old veggie stir fry. Thanks for sharing such great info!

    • says

      Exactly, since becoming a vegetarian I’ve had to become so much more creative with my eats. At first I didn’t like tempeh but then Josh started making it for me and now I love it! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, thanks so much for reading! <3

    • says

      No I didn’t, I grew up on fast food and takeout. Wanting to get healthier led to me deciding to go vegetarian and that forced me to be more creative with my food choices which led to me cooking. Also my stepmom has had a really big impact on me because she cooks a homemade meal every night for dinner and I want to be able to do that for my family one day!

  2. says

    soy is such an invaluable source of vegetarian protein. When its cooked well, even non-vegetarians love it…I got my grandpa hooked on sesame scallion tofu and he’s the biggest meat eater there is!

  3. says

    I am not a vegetarian, but when cooked properly I have found it to be very delicious! These photo of soy based dishes look to be delicious! Yum! So much great information here, thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Aw I’m so glad you enjoyed it! :) Yeah tofu is one of those foods that gets a bad rap for tasting horrible but when cooked correctly is amazing! I’m so glad I gave it a shot because now I love it.

  4. says

    Great to hear how successful you are getting what you need as a vegetarian. I actually loved tofu (always a meat-eater) and was fine having different soy products. Then I found out I was allergic. Boo. It definitely can be super tasty! The silken kind worked well in some stir fries we used to do.

    • says

      Aw I’m sorry to hear you’re allergic! I really want to try silken tofu, I heard its amazing in smoothies and desserts!

  5. says

    I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a over 8 months now and I found that I love soy — although I really never ate it before! Just like you said, I’d had so much bad tofu in my life, I thought that’s just what it was. Once I learned how creative you could be, it opened up a whole new world! My favorite creation is a walnut-crusted tofu that I made for Valentine’s Day dinner with my hubby this year. :)

  6. Becki says

    Thank you for this post! I am not vegetarian, but I do love tofu! I’ve never cooked it myself (which is funny given how much I love to cook), but I am looking forward to giving it a go.

  7. says

    I find that I days that I don’t eat meat, I get plenty of protein (I keep a food journal). On days that I eat animal based protein, I get well above my recommended protein requirement, almost too much.

    Really interesting article. Great job.

    • says

      Aw thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah I was surprised at how over my protein limit I can go without eating any meat. I think its definitely something as a society we emphasize maybe more than we need to!

  8. says

    I’ve been vegan for over two years, vegetarian for three before that. I love to use tofu. It picks up the flavor of whatever sauce you cook it in (as long as you drain and press it). I have a few recipes on my website, including tofu, mushroom, and potato burritos and tofu steak.

    I also finally figured out how to cook tempeh so that it is delicious (never cared for it before). I now steam it for about 15-20 minutes before marinating and it always tastes great. I haven’t written it up yet, but I made the best tempeh burgers the other night!

    • says

      I didn’t use to like the taste of tempeh before either! Josh had to show me how to cook and season it and now I love it! All of your recipes sound amazing, I’m going to need to check those out!

  9. says

    I was a vegetarian for several years when I was younger and now leaning toward it again many years later.

    Really interesting and informative post, Erin, thanks for sharing your experiences.

    I am on the lookout for a non-flavored tempeh and having a terrible time finding some.

    • says

      Aw thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I know Wegmans carries some non-flavored tempeh, I can’t remember the brand but next time I’m in the store I’ll check it out and let you know!

    • says

      It was an awesome ethics class, I learned a lot! I used to love bacon but now I don’t miss it at all, its funny how taste buds can change!

  10. says

    I am not a vegetarian but I do try to cook 2-3 meatless meals a week for my family. There are plenty of delicious meals I’ve found from blogs like yours. I fear if I did eliminate meat completely from the family meals they will revolt:)

    Hugs and Mocha,

    • says

      I love how many vegetarian meal ideas there are out there, blogs have helped me tremendously in that way! Thanks so much, I’m so glad you liked the post! <3

  11. says

    I like to incorporate soy into my protein for each week! I was glad when I read the study to see that eating various proteins increase the length of time my muscles are absorbing the macronutrient post-workout, because I am all about variety. My mom frequently uses a mixture of soy and ground turkey to make Italian and Mexican dishes.

  12. Howard Yaekel says

    Whey protein is really useful when you want to increase muscle when doing strength training. I always consumer whey protein because it is more bioavailable compared to soy protein. ;`.;: – Kindest regards


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