The Danger of Dishing Soy

Our Spring issue generated a lot of feedback, especially after my story, “The Dish on Soy,” which examined the often unfortunate health consequences of eating processed soy, was reprinted by Utne Reader,, and

I welcome criticism, but frankly, I was startled that people became so vitriolic in defense of a bean. Judging by some remarks, one would think my story suggested meat as a replacement (it did not), slammed natural foods (soy products are among the most highly processed foods), or demonized soy (I’ve been known to imbibe miso soup).

What struck me was that many took the story personally, as if I had insulted them. Perplexed, I talked to Kaayla Daniel about the blog posts. Daniel, the author of the The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, told me that she received death threats after her book was published. That news made me wonder why we’re not empowered by information and debate rather than threatened by it. Is this the legacy of talk radio? Are we so on-edge that we can’t stand a reversal of dietary fortune? Or are we simply tired of being told that thing after thing is bad for us?

Below are a few emails and posts from AlterNet and digg. Draw your own conclusions. Just don’t munch soy crisps while you’re reading.

“I’m absolutely offended at such an obvious hit piece. The whole article is deliberately written in an obfuscating manner. Ask yourself. How can a natural food be bad?”

“I have doubts about the accuracy of this article… either the author is quite ignorant on this matter or has some vendetta against the soybean.”

“I don’t know if I believe it. That’s the problem with all the ‘armchair surgeon generals’ out there on the net: everyone’s an expert and they all spout off medical advice about what’s good and bad for you. We’ve flip-flopped on the benefits of coffee, wine, milk, herbal supplements, soy, aspirin and hundreds of other food products. To make matters worse, everyone is getting their medical information and advice from the internet. People don’t go to a medical professional for diagnosis anymore—they simply hit Wikipedia, make a diagnosis, and start treating themselves.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the dairy or meat industries are behind this. Their lies on protein indexes lasted decades. Ten years ago nobody would think the top recovery protein supplements used in hospitals now would be from soy.”

“Three years ago I went vegan. I began eating a lot of soy, i.e, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, soy cheese, yogurt, and ice cream& basically, I ate all forms of soy daily&.Ê I stopped menstruating and this was followed by extreme fatigue. As time went on, I began feeling worse. I could not understand why I felt sick all the time when I was eating fruits, veggies, soy, grains and legumes& Then I read your article.ÊI was shocked to think that the main ingredient in my diet—soy—could possibly be what is causing me to feel so horrible every day.Ê I have since cut out soy to the best of my ability (soy is in practically everything), and I have begun to feel better.”

“This is a well-orchestrated spin campaign against soy that has been going on since the late ’90s or earlier& Follow the money. We are worth more to them sick than healthy.”

“Without even reading the article, I’m going to call bullshit on it. Japanese people have been eating soy forever (what do you think tofu and natto are?), and I don’t think they have many health problems as a nation.”

“Within several months of increasing my soy intake at age 41, I started having full-on symptoms of menopause, and my health went into a downward spiral that has taken me years to recover from. I learned that my excessive soy consumption caused premature ovarian failure, thyroid nodules/Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and many other problems—several of which are permanent. A huge caveat to peri-menopausal women: soy can block your own natural estrogen from attaching to the receptors and cause severe and permanent endocrine disruption. Thank you for printing this really important information.”

“What’s the problem? I thought everyone knew soy milk changes people into hippies…”

“I appreciate the information about these matters that I get, but seriously, what’s next? You’re going to tell me my Quaker oatmeal is toxic?”

Comments are closed.