Not Soy Fast!


Meat is murder.

That’s what they’ll tell you, anyway. And it’s true. If we’re going to eat meat, we must face the truth of the matter; animals must die if we’re going to continue to enjoy things like burgers, sausages, steaks, chops, and all of the other wonderful proteins we enjoy day in and out.

But if I may, allow me to turn the table on our vegan friends. How does this sound to you?

Soy is murder.

Yeah, that’s right.

And when I say “murder,” I’m not talking about some poor soybean plant giving up it’s pods for your “garden burger” or whatever horrible pseudo-meat product you kid yourself with when you sit down to lunch. That would be taking a page out of your worn-out playbook.

No, my friends. Murder: as in this all-soy diet you find yourself on may be killing you. Between the documentary “Food, Inc.” and an article in Bon Appetit Magazine that I’ve read recently, disturbing allegations against soybeans have been so front and center that I feel compelled to share what I’ve learned with you.

And before I start, let me clarify something: I don’t care if people want to eat tofu products in the place of meat. I really don’t. If, for whatever reason, you wish to eat soy and tofu in replace of meat — it’s not affecting me. Knock yourself out. What does affect me is when I’m forced to endure preaching of how unhealthy and unfair it is that chicken, beef, and pork find their way onto my table.

While watching Food, Inc., the evidence against Monsanto and their genetically modified soybeans stuck with me. Really, it did. Here is something natural – a soybean, a centuries-old traditional staple in the Japanese diet. Perhaps one of the most honored of all healthy foods. Then along comes a big conglomerate like Monsanto who finds a way to grow them quicker, bigger, and for far less money by genetically altering the structure of the organic bean.

You’ve heard of Round-Up, right? If you have a garden, you’ve probably used it, or at least heard of it. It’s incredible. I love it, actually. It’s a potent solution designed to kill vegetation, grasses, weeds, anything that grows in the ground. I would venture to guess that if you used in large enough doses, it might even kill a tree. For every pain in the ass weed growing in the middle of your lawn, there’s a spritz of Round-Up waiting to send it to sleep with the fishes.

Midway through Food, Inc., we learn that Monsanto, the same company that created such American classics as Agent Orange and DDT, is the company that designed Round-Up. And a number of years ago, Monsanto began work on a genetically modified soybean designed to actually fight the elements in Round-Up, so that any doses of the weed killer would not affect the plant.

Imagine that — a soybean plant that Round-Up cannot kill. Not only that, but you can eat it! I just love chemistry.

But wait, it gets better. We also learned that Monsanto is responsible for over 90% of all soybeans produced in the USA. So chances are strong that the soy burger you’re enjoying is created with Monsanto Brand Soybeans. It’s like a mouthful of Big Business in every bite! Don’t you feel healthy? Pass that soy dog, will ya?

Talk about cornering the market. Let’s hear it for big businesses like Monsanto! Like Don King said – “Only in America!”

So fast-forward to the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit that contains a very well written article by Paul Tullis, uncovering some facts about soy that are somewhat unsettling. In the article, Paul finds that several studies over the past few years show that an all-soy diet can lead to higher risks of cancer.

The reason? Dangerous levels of isoflavones. What the Hell are those? They’re natural chemicals, similar to human estrogen. And at high levels, they’re dangerous enough that women who have been diagnosed with (or have a family history of) breast cancer are encouraged to stay away from eating soy altogether. Not only that, it can cause fertility problems in men.

Does this mean the average person should avoid eating soybeans? Absolutely not. But an all-soy diet, however healthy it might make you feel, is not the answer to eternal health. Everything in moderation. Mix in a salad.

Whether this has anything to do with Monsanto’s genetically modified soybean has not been proven. Anyone can guess, but who’s got deep enough pockets for a lawsuit like that?

On the bright side, there is hope. Fermenting soy beans alters the chemical makeup of soy, reducing the level of isoflavones – by up to 70%! So all you lovers of soy sauce and miso — eat with reckless abandon. God bless fermentation, right?

So I leave you with a recipe for one of my favorite soups — miso. It’s the most flavorful, easiest, and quickest of all soups that I love to make and enjoy. Requiring only that you have access to a Japanese grocery store to acquire ingredients such as miso paste, instant dashi mix (bonito flavored soup mix), and nori (seaweed), miso soup will warm your soul.

Best of all, this soup won’t kick your estrogen levels into high gear. Can you imagine me with higher estrogen levels? Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure I’d look hideous in a dress.

Miso Soup (serves 4)

4 cups water
¼ cup dark miso paste (you can use white miso, but I prefer the darker paste)
½ teaspoon instant dashi
Tofu, cut into very tiny cubes (optional)
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon of thinly sliced nori (seaweed)

UPDATE: Thanks to Bubby at Brain Gravy for alerting me to this rich documentary “The World According to Monsanto.” Watch it before it magically disappears from the internet once again. It’s a startling film, and my hat goes off to the director/producer.


  1. Agri-business depresses the heck out of. Yay for fermentation indeed!

  2. Man am I releaved that miso and soy sauce are ok. I love a good miso at lunch.

    I heard about this a while ago, the estrogen that is, and it reminded me that a doctor told my mother to eat more soybean when she was going through menopause.

    This also confirms why vegan men are more effeminate then meat eaters. I wonder if it would cause a case of manboobs? Food for thought.

    Take care and great article.


    • You know, Kirk, you just may be on to something. I can only imagine what kind of birth defects may start to rise out of this.

      Too funny. 😉 I’ve yet to see a vegan with man cans, but there’s always a first.

      • Ha ha ha, Man Cans. I’ve always used the term “Moobs,” heretofore … tons of useful information on this site! 🙂

        The day I read this article, I thought, “man, I could use some miso soup.” I happened to slurp some later that day. It reminded me of an article I wrote in college about how all those soy-full “health bars” could be giving men moobs. Now Highbeam has the article on lockdown.

        My last thought on this: Southern Tsunami is a company that churns those on-the-go sushi packs out of California. I saw some (not-frozen) pre-packed edamame they were selling, labeled “non-GMO.” I’m not so sure, with that kind of volume.

      • Moobs — I love it!

        Jennifer, please don’t tell me that the article you wrote in college, on the subject of man boobs, was for a periodical called “Highbeam.” Because that’s comedy that you just can’t write yourself.

        And you know, that Southern Tsunami story sounds like it has some weight. It’s worth looking into. With Monsanto owning as much of the market as they do, you have to wonder how much non-GMO soybeans are actually available in markets.

    • Phil,
      I have spent the last couple of weeks or so listening to every one of your podcasts, starting with #1 and proceeding through #40. I must say, you have kept me quite entertained and have successfully challenged me to re-evaluate my own food choices. Ironically, I changed my Facebook description to include the phrase “wannabe foodie” and then was told about your show a few days later. You have certainly helped me in my quest to learn more about cooking, the foods we eat, farming and many other things I didn’t expect (see: King Corn and Food Inc.).

      Please don’t give up the beer portion of your show as it is one of my favorite parts. Continue doing what you’re doing. From the rants on the Food Network “stars” to Tony Bourdain and Top Chef, to molecular cooking and the infamous Brazil show…I love it all. Thanks!


      • Steve, thank you for your comments here. It leaves me a bit speechless, which as you know is quite a rare feat. So great to hear that the show has helped you in your quest to eat differently, and get more involved in food issues.

        I appreciate what you’re saying about including beer in the show. It’s here to stay, believe me. And the last couple of shows have been more beercentric than others. I do see what a vital role beer plays in food, as my passion for craft beer and brewing is equal to my passion about food.

        Thanks again for your comments, for taking the time to write. Most importantly, thanks for listening and getting involved.

        Bon Appetit!


  3. Phil,

    As always, a very well-written piece! I recently returned from visiting my mom and had that very discussion with her – esp. since she’s now undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I told her in no way, shape or form should she ADD soy to her diet – no matter WHO tells her to. I started showing her how many variations of soy there already are in her diet by looking at the ingredient labels of foods in her cabinet. While I doubt she’ll ever wean herslef off of packaged foods (no matter how much I tell her she should), i think just seeing things that you never would have imagined soy in scared her a bit.

    Between soy and corn, it’s amazing our bodies are able to function at all!


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