Is Soy the Center of All Vegetarian Diets?
Being a vegetarian doesn't mean that you'll be eating tofu morning, noon, and night.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
We asked our friends at the Natural Gourmet Institute to help debunk vegetarian diet myths – and one is that following a plant-based diet means you’ll be eating nothing but tofu. Vegetarian Times has partnered with the renowned New York-based culinary school to create a comprehensive new online course, Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition. Whether you’re a new vegetarian, an avid cook wanting to expand your skills, or contemplating a career in the food industry, you will find this course helpful. Sign up to receive discounts and information about this awesome course.
Myth: Soy is the Center of All Vegetarian Diets
There are still people out there who (incorrectly) assume that tofu is a cornerstone of a vegetarian diet. Even plant-based stock images frequently still have hunks of unseasoned, flavorless tofu when describing a vegetarian meal. While many vegetarians and vegans do enjoy tofu from time to time, it is hardly considered a mandatory menu item.
Soy products like tofu, tempeh and soy milk are great sources of plant-based protein and happen to be considered complete proteins meaning that soy contains all of the essential amino acids. If you enjoy the taste of soy, then lightly processed or unprocessed soy products like tofu, tempeh and edamame can be healthful additions to your diet. However, if you avoid soy for any reason, fear not, because there is a whole world of plant-based protein options out there.
A persistent misconception about vegetarian diets is that consuming enough protein is challenging. However, nearly all whole foods contain some protein; processed products are stripped of much of their protein, fiber and some nutrients so it’s best to stick to whole foods whenever possible. Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, eggs and dairy contribute great amounts of protein but whole vegetables, too, contain this macronutrient. Consuming enough protein on a vegetarian diet, with or without soy, is quite easy as long as a variety of foods are eaten throughout the day.
To learn more about meeting protein needs on a plant-based diet, join us for our online course, Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition.
Kayleen St. John is the Director of Nutrition at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute. Kayleen has a Master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU and is a registered dietitian. Her research examines the relationship between diet and inflammatory conditions. Kayleen is an avid runner and believes smart nutrition contributes to optimal athletic performance. Our new course, Foundations of Plant Based Nutrition, led by Kayleen, covers essential plant-centric professional cooking techniques, health-focused topics including allergens and inflammation, and how to separate nutrition fact and fiction in a vegan and veg diet.