In my previous posts, I’ve discussed at length about the health benefits of including soy proteins into your daily diet. But there’s a lot more to this food crop that makes it important for us to rethink animal protein sources.
Quick facts on Soy Proteins
Did you know that the food we intake is intricately linked with the factors leading to climate change today? Reports suggest that around 20% of our carbon footprint comes from food. Factories are breeding animals on a large scale solely to meet our need for meat. An estimated 50 billion animals are raised each year leading to a disproportionate pressure on agriculture for dairy feed production.
A study by the UN and FAO in 2006 concluded that livestock breathing makes up to about 14% of greenhouse gases with about 40% of methane gas emissions coming from farm animals. Further emissions are generated in the process of waste disposal, storage, and packaging. Carbon emissions from medical treatment of diseased animals too is high.
Dr. Marco Springmann at the Oxford Martin School says, “A mainly plant-based diet could reduce environmental impacts, such as those from fertilizers, and save up to quarter use of both farmland and fresh water.” A report in the Nature journal states, plant-based diets could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the food system by more than half.
Clearly, soy transcends personal health benefits and takes into account the larger health of our environment. This plant-based protein requires less water and land than dairy products. It releases negligible amounts of greenhouse gases and has a very low carbon footprint on our planet.
Even vegetarians who generally dislike meat tend to consume dairy products like milk and curd. Soy milk and soy curd are healthy and tasty alternatives containing the same nutrition and energy.
Soy proteins have a high Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score which is comparable to eggs and milk. As compared to animal-based protein sources, soy has a low carbon footprint as it requires less water and energy to produce.
How can you use soy proteins in your daily life?
Being a vegetarian, soy proteins forms an important part of my diet. While it is widely believed that a vegetarian or vegan diet is a good way to reduce one’s impact on the planet, I personally think that even non-vegetarians can use soy in their daily diet to reduce their carbon footprint.
Instead of giving up on meat completely, one can use innovative ways to incorporate soy proteins in your daily diet.
- It is said that soy had a meat-like texture which can be used to make burgers or even steaks.
- Soy chunks are a great addition to Chinese food and can be possibly substituted for chicken.
- Tofu, which is often called bland and tasteless, is an excellent substitute for meat. It can absorb flavours and can be used in a number of dishes.
- Tempeh, traditional food from Indonesia is made of grains and fermented soybeans. It can be used to make fake ‘fish’ fingers and a variety of other fried snacks. It can also be used as an addition to traditional Indian gravies.
- Soy protein powder can be added to multigrain vegetable chilla to make it even healthier.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Soy and soy proteins are important for your health and the environment. Let’s take the first step to lead a better and environmentally friendly life by using soy in our daily lives.