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  • Фото автораArthur

Fear Soy Not

Source: Widely made assumption. Tactic:

  • Blaming vegans for the damage caused by non-veganism

  • Conflating efficient primary consumption (of soy-based foods) with wasteful secondary consumption (of soy-fed animals)


There's nothing inherently environmentally damaging about farming any type of bean, including soybeans. The damage is caused by growing said bean to fatten up tens of billions of farmed animals, because then an unreasonable and unsustainable amount of beans must be grown. The fact is that 85% of the world's soybean crop is used as animal feed (Oilseed & Grain News). The way to prevent soy over-farming is by eating it directly in the form of vegan soy foods rather than cycling it through animals before consumption.

“Increasing meat consumption is the main driver behind soy’s continuing expansion. Around three-quarters of soy worldwide is used for animal feed, especially for poultry and pigs. — The Growth of Soy: Impacts and Solutions, 2014 WWF report

Think of it it this way: 

A quarter of all Americans regularly buy hummus – far more than buy tofu. Yet garbanzo beans are not destroying the planet, because they're not being used to fatten up tens of billions of farmed animals. If they were, they too would be destroying the planet, and it would have nothing to do with hummus, or vegans, or the beans themsevles.  Vegans are not responsible for the animal slaughter industry's egregious misuse and squandering of soybeans. Primary consumption of soybeans in the form of soy foods (which, unlike soy-based feed, are often organic and non-GMO if that's a concern for you) respects our planet's ecological limits. Consumption of the flesh and bodily fluids of animals does not. Says WWF, "Limiting consumption of animal-based food products, particularly meat, is one thing people can do to help end this devastating trend [of soybean over-farming]." Note that reducing consumption of animal meat/products, not soy foods, is the effective action people can take.

The same dynamics apply to other foods used as feed, such as corn and grain. Corn is the largest crop grown by American farmers, and it's largely responsible for the ongoing depletion of the Midwest's massive Ogallala Aquifer – but it's not because vegans or anyone else secretly sitting around eating corn on the cob all day, it's because it's the most widely-used feed crop in the US. But since corn and grain aren't particularly associated with vegans like soy is, people seem to be less inclined to implicate their overproduction in the ongoing destruction of our environment. They just tend to omit it altogether. The fact that people are willing to blame vegans for the damage specifically caused by non-vegans' secondary consumption of soybeans and other animal feed shows how little most people have actually thought about the logistics of animal consumption. If they have thought about it and are still spreading this myth, they are being intentionally obtuse knowing that most people won't have the above context.

“80% of Amazon soy is destined for animal feed; smaller percentages are used for oil or eaten directly. — Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Issues

A Note about Soy Agriculture in the Amazon Although many people assume the soybeans grown in the Amazon are for popular vegan foods like tofu and soy milk, the reality is that, per Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Issues, “80% of Amazon soy is destined for animal feed; smaller percentages are used for oil or eaten directly.” Since eating soy directly rather than cycled through animals first would reduce the clearance of natural vegetation required to supply us with the same amount of protein by a whopping 94% (source in quote below), we logically wouldn’t need to tear down the Amazon to grow soybeans if they were just being used for vegan food, because we could grow far less of them using far less land. See our resource on land use and deforestation for more research that shows, between clearing for pastures and feed crops like soy, beef production is the top driver of Amazon deforestation.

“This might seem counter-intuitive, but were we to eat soya rather than meat, the clearance of natural vegetation required to supply us with the same amount of protein would decline by 94%. Producing protein from chickens requires three times as much land as protein from soybeans. Pork needs nine times, beef 32 times. — George Monbiot, Guardian journalist & UN Global 500 Award winner for outstanding environmental achievement

“‘’Soybeans produce at least two times as much usable protein per acre than any other major vegetable or grain crop, except for hemp... They produce 5 to 10 times more protein per acre than land set aside for grazing animals to make milk, and up to 15 times more protein per acre than land set aside for meat production.’’ — Edible protein per unit area of land, Wikipedia (original source is National Soybean Research Laboratory)

Further reading:

A note about anti-soy health claims