A big misconception is the presence of phytoestrogens in soy. When people hear the term "estrogens," they equate it with the mammalian hormone.
However, it's important to understand that plants do not have hormones, only mammals do.
Our mission here at Vegan Leather Co. is to empower vegans to plant seeds of change. We believe one way to do this is to educate each other so we're confident when having conversations about veganism.
Personally I can have a chat with Carni's (Carnists) about being Vegan for the animals.
I can calmly explain to them about the cruelty that goes into a cheeseburger.
With ease I can explain the detrimental effects animal agriculture has on our environment.
Yet when it comes to nutrition I feel disempowered, backed into a corner and start scanning for the nearest exit.
A few months back with sheer luck and a nudge by the vegan gods in comes Vegan Nutritionist Amy Leahy, . We had a great chat with Amy answering my nutrition questions that I've never had the opportunity to ask a professional before. She translated science into a language that I could absorb. Amy has enthusiastically & humbly answered my questions again so that I can share them with you. Our hope is that you absorb these nuggets of wisdom and serve them at your next family get together ;)
A common conversation I've had with carni's will usually go like this:
Carni: Vegans can't get protein.
Me: Plants have protein. I've been vegan for 10 years and haven't met a vegan who has suffered from protein deficiency.
Carni: Yeah, but umm you can only get complete proteins from eating meat.
Me: There are plenty of outstanding athletes on a plant-based diet. Ummm just watch Game Changers.
I've lost many opportunities to help people question their belief that meat is necessary and essential.
Obviously I need Amy Leahy to save my ass. Here we go...
Most nutritionists encourage their clients to eat meat, eggs & dairy. Why do you have a different perspective?
My perspective on nutrition is different from most nutritionists because I have based it on the latest scientific evidence and research. The data overwhelmingly supports a whole food plant-based diet as being the best for human and planetary health, and free from the health risks associated with animal products.
Unfortunately, the education that many nutritionists receive is outdated and lacks information on plant-based nutrition. This leads to biases and a lack of understanding of the benefits of a vegan diet.
As a vegan health professional, I am often labelled as biased, yet those who advise their clients to consume animal products are not questioned for their biases. The irony is that the evidence supporting a plant-based diet is extensive and undeniable.
What made you vegan?
I made the decision to stop eating meat 11 years ago and went fully vegan 4 years ago. I was in the process of removing all animal products from my diet, but I was slowed down by the common misconceptions and fear-mongering that it is difficult to get all the necessary nutrients from a vegan diet. However, during my studies in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the science behind diets and nutrition. I was able to use my newfound skills to critically analyse and interpret scientific studies and evidence, and what I found was truly eye-opening.
The evidence overwhelmingly supports a whole food plant-based diet as the best dietary pattern, not only for the animals but also for human and planetary health. I learnt that a vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for optimal health and well-being apart from B12. This newfound knowledge was the final push I needed to take the leap and embraced a 100% plant-based diet. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner
I want to help others overcome the same fears and misconceptions that held me back for so long and show them that a vegan diet can be not only healthy, but also enjoyable and satisfying.
The science is in, a vegan diet is the most sustainable and ethical choice.
A big misconception is the presence of phytoestrogens in soy. When people hear the term "estrogens," they equate it with the mammalian hormone. However, it's important to understand that plants do not have hormones, only mammals do.
So, phytoestrogens from soy cannot have the same effect as mammalian hormones. Phytoestrogens have a similar chemical structure to estrogen and can bind to estrogen receptors, but due to their weak chemical structure, they exhibit only a weak effect on these receptors. In comparison, if mammalian estrogen exerts a 1000% effect on estrogen receptors in the body, soy's effect is only 0.0001%.
What people should be concerned about is the actual hormones in cow's milk and other animal milks.
Cows are mammals, just like us, and, just like mothers, cows only produce milk when pregnant. This means that cow's milk is full of hormones from pregnant female cows, especially estrogen, and these being true mammalian hormones, they can latch onto our receptors and exert the strong effect I mentioned earlier.
This belief is no longer supported by current scientific evidence. The phytoestrogens in soy were once thought to contribute to breast cancer, but this has been disproven. In fact, studies now show that soy consumption may have a neutral or protective effect on the risk of developing breast cancer.
It is important to understand that all protein originates from plants, as protein is made up of amino acids which only exist in plants.
The myth that soy is not a high-quality protein has been widely debunked by scientific research. It is important to understand that all protein originates from plants, as protein is made up of amino acids which only exist in plants. Animals consume the plants and then we, as meat eaters, consume the animals. However, it is possible to achieve the same result by consuming protein directly from the source - plants.
The notion that plant protein is inferior to animal protein is a very outdated belief. In reality, plant protein is a high-quality protein source and is just as efficient as animal protein in providing the necessary amino acids for our bodies. There are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need and plants contain all of these, but not all plants contain all 9 amino acids in high enough amounts for them to be considered a complete protein source. However, this only becomes an issue if one only consumes one type of plant food. If a variety of different plant foods are consumed, the body will be able to create complete protein from the amino acids consumed.
Soy contains all 9 essential amino acids and contains enough of each for the body to use effectively, making it a complete protein source.
By consuming soy, one can be sure that they are getting a high-quality protein source that is just as efficient as animal protein. It is important to note that the quality of protein in soy is not just limited to soybeans, but can also be found in other soy products such as tofu and soy milk.
This is a common misconception about soy and its processing. When it comes to determining the level of processing in food, it’s important to understand what is being added or removed in the process. A highly processed food is one where the nutritious components, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, have been stripped away, while unhealthy additives like excess fat, sugar, oils, and chemicals have been added.
However, when it comes to soy, many of its products are considered minimally processed. Products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and unsweetened soy milk and yoghurts, undergo minimal processing and retain their healthy components, sometimes even adding more nutrients through the fermentation process. On the other hand, products like mock meats, energy bars, sweetened soy milk, and yoghurts are considered processed foods due to the addition of unhealthy ingredients.
In conclusion, it’s important to consider the type of soy product being consumed and the level of processing it underwent before determining its nutritional value.
When it comes to soy, many of its products are considered minimally processed. Products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and unsweetened soy milk and yoghurts, undergo minimal processing and retain their healthy components.
Soy phytoestrogens are much weaker than the oestrogen produced in the human body and have been shown to have a beneficial effect on hormone balance. The consumption of soy has been found to have no significant impact on testosterone levels in men and may actually have a protective effect against certain types of cancers. In women, soy has been shown to have a beneficial effect on hot flashes during menopause and may even aid in female fertility. The available evidence suggests that soy is not harmful to hormones and may even have a positive impact.
The available evidence suggests that soy is not harmful to hormones and may even have a positive impact.
Soybeans are a nutrient-rich food and are particularly high in isoflavones, a subclass of polyphenols also known as phytoestrogens. These compounds have a chemical structure similar to that of estrogen, which allows them to bind to estrogen receptors in the body. The presence of isoflavones is believed to be the main reason behind many of the health benefits attributed to soy-based foods.
Isoflavones have unique effects on the body that differ from those of estrogen, and their consumption has been linked to various health benefits. Some studies have found that isoflavones can help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose levels, which is great for overall cardiovascular health. Soy is also believed to play a role in maintaining strong bones, particularly in postmenopausal women. Additionally, soy-based foods are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, all of which contribute to a balanced and healthy diet.
Soy-based foods are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, all of which contribute to a balanced and healthy diet.
Thank you Amy for your big brains, curiousity and passion for nutrition.
Let us know in the comments below if you learnt anything new about soy or if you have any insights that you would like to add on to this post
Amy, has been plant-based since 2012 and vegan since 2019,she overcame gut and hormonal health issues through diet and lifestyle changes. This inspired her to learn more about nutrition and health . Amy holds BHSc in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine. She is also a diabetes coach for Mastering Diabetes, a program based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name which reverses insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes through plant based nutrition. Chickpea Nutrition, founded by Amy, offers evidence-based lifestyle and nutrition advice using whole foods. Amy uses her personal experience and expertise in gut, hormonal health and plant-based nutrition to provide life-changing one-on-one coaching and consultations.