The Daily Beet

13 Mar Allergic to Soy?

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(the soy bean)

First, let’s clear some stuff up about soy. The soy bean has been around for a long time. Most people think tofu when they think soy. Tofu is just is just curd made from mashed soybeans. You can even make a tofu like substance using other kinds of beans.  The soy bean in and of itself is not unhealthy (for many people). Often, it is what is done to the poor bean that has lead people to believe that soy is not healthy. Often, junk food products are made from soy, things like soy cheese, soy based meats are not part of a healthy diet. So you want to stay away from the highly processe junk. For a much more in depth look at soy, check out this article by Dr. Neal Barnard with PCRM.

With that being said, there are some people that should limit their intake of soy. The soy bean is still higher in fat than other beans (around 40%) and higher in protein as well. For people battling diseases like heart disease, T2 diabetes and obesity you will want to limit your soy intake. Because of the higher fat we would suggest that you use soy sparingly, be sure that your diet is filled with a variety of foods.

It is important to remember that a plant-strong diet is NOT a soy promoting diet. The soy bean is just one of MANY beans that people can enjoy. If you’d rather skip soy, that is completely okay, there are lots of other beans to choose from!

Aside from soy beans, there are people who have issues with other beans.

If you believe that you have an allergy to another type of bean there are a few things you can do first:

1. Try sticking to a very clean plant-strong diet for at least a month. Sometimes if people are eating a plant-poor diet their bodies are not used to handling the fiber packed beans.

2. Make sure that you chew your food! This seems obvious, but is an important thing to remember. Chewing food helps aid in digestion, especially of beans.

3. Make sure that you rinse beans if you are cooking them yourself.

What to do if a recipe calls for soy:

If you are able to use other beans, we’ve found that using a white bean (like a white kidney) is a nice replacement for dishes that call for tofu. So for instance if you see a recipe for tofu scramble, substitute a white bean.

Another great substitution are potatoes. We have made potato scramble and have even used mashed up white potatoes in our sweet potato lasagna.

Instead of soy milk try almond milk instead. Or make your own brown-rice milk:

1 cup cooked brown rice
4 cups water
1 Tbsp sweetener
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

1. Cook 1 cup uncooked brown rice with a dash of salt according to package instructions. This will cook up into about 2 cups of cooked rice. Allowing for 2 batches, or 8 cups of milk.
2. Add 1 cup cooked brown rice with 4 cups water. Add sweetener and vanilla, if desired.
3. Blend on high for up to 3 minutes, or until water turns white.
4. You can strain it if you like, or just shake it well when you use it.
5. Store in fridge.

For silken tofu you can try thickening almond milk with corn starch or arrowroot until it is a more pudding like texture. You can also throw in some chia seeds if you want it to gel a little more.

If a recipe calls for tempeh, try using a more flavorful and hearty bean like the chickpea or kidney beans.

Let’s say you are allergic or do not like the taste of other beans:

Start with chickpeas if you are wary of other beans. Chickpeas have a nice texture and most people who do not like the texture of other beans will most often like the chickpea.

Go for lentils! Lentils have a great texture and are fairly light.

Skip the beans all together and use more whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. If you are finding that you are just not a bean person, simple add in more whole grains to your diet.

You can also use peas/corn/carrots/diced potatoes: starchy vegetables are a great substitute for beans. You can even make


  • “Green Pea Hummus”
  • 1 1/2  cups cooked peas
  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbs tahini (you can leave this out if you want to keep the hummus lower in fat)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • And then process!


Bottom line, if you have an allergy to soy (or would rather not use it) or to any other bean you can STILL be completely plant-strong!

Do you have any suggestions for people avoiding soy or other beans? We’d love to hear from you!

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Natala Constantine
  • Midwest Mom
    Posted at 12:50h, 13 March

    Thanks for an interesting article. I am nervous a bit about soy because of estrogen receptive breast cancer. These alternative ideas for using other beans and grains will allow me to make new recipes without the worry. I so appreciate your information

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 11:53h, 14 March

    I do have a quick question about tofu. One time I tried to make the chocolate pudding dessert in the E2 book that calls for silken tofu. Trader Joe’s didn’t carry silken tofu at the time (although they do now!) and I had never used it before, so I just bought regular soft tofu (or the non-firm kind) to substitute. But the pudding was terrrrrible and I threw most of it away. Does silken tofu have more of a sweet flavor or less of the pungent tofu type flavor than regular tofu has? I’m scared to make it again because it was so yucky the first time, so I just wondered really what the difference is between regular tofu and silken tofu. Thanks!

  • Cando
    Posted at 12:17h, 14 March

    Agreed! Thank you for the substitution ideas! Very much appreciated. 🙂

  • Kathryn Polster
    Posted at 13:21h, 14 March

    Is the crumbled TVP or TSP in the bulk bin an OK form of soy or should it be avoided in the same manner we avoid faux meats?

  • Maria
    Posted at 08:38h, 18 March

    You talk about using soy and corn but they are GMO (genetically modified) and should not be eaten unless you can find non-gmo soy or corn.

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