Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why soy free and gluten free?

I get asked a lot why I'm vegan and why I eat the way I do. Usually I keep the conversation light when it comes to not eating animals-I don't like to talk politics. But, I do get excited when I get to tell people why I don't eat dairy, and why I choose to avoid wheat and soy.
My mom just got a test back that says she's intolerant to soy and gluten. Since she eats a few meals with me a week already, this wasn't particularly scary for her. My mom isn't vegan, but I'm proud of the way she's trying to incorporate whole, organic foods into her diet. So, partly this entry is for her. Did I mention that my mom is the best mom ever?

Gluten Free- Some people are gluten intolerant, or have been diagnosed with celiac disease. This means that their bodies are unable to digest wheat and some of its friends like rye or barley. People who are gluten intolerant may have frequent diarrhea, trouble absorbing nutrients- and are at risk for developing other problems. Other people eat a gluten free diet because it is very mucus forming (me!). There is also research that when gluten (and casein, a protein found in milk) is eliminated from an autistic child's diet, symptoms improve.

Soy Free- When creating and naming my blog, I hesitated on whether or not to put the word "vegan" in the title. The word vegan for so many people conjures up images of soy hot dogs and soy hamburgers and other meat/dairy analogues. Although great transition products for omnivores going herbivores, fake meats give in to the mainstream idea that our dinner plates should be planned around the protein. And soy does offer a great source of protein, but it's not the miracle health food some would like you to believe. If you really want a fake chicken nugget because you like the taste, go for it! You're not killing a chicken and you're satisfying a craving. But, if you're eating a faux-meat product because "its good for you", you're not doing yourself any favors. Soy, like wheat, is mucus forming. Soy is one of the top dietary allergens causing problems like acne, asthma, ezcema, and vomiting. Personally, my body doesn't digest it well, though I will include some organic fermented soy products in my diet like miso or tempeh. But, if you're going to eat soy keep these two things in mind- make sure you're choosing organic soy, and realize that soy is very estrogenic. To be granted with an organic label, the crops can not be genetically modified. At least 90% of the soybeans produced in the US are genetically modified. Companies like Silk have moved away from an organic label. Read your labels! Lastly, soy contains isoflavones and phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in the body. This could be great for a 50-year old menopausal woman, but for a 5 year old boy bringing a carton of Silk in his lunch box everyday, the possible effects are not known.

Dairy Free- Growing up I would get horrible ear infections, to the point that the doctors recommended tubes in my ears. I battled seasonal allergies that turned into constant colds that turned into asthma and soon I was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. At the age of 21 I was taking 2 inhalers daily, plus an emergency one that I used several times a week, and 5 other allergy and asthma pills daily. To weigh down my purse even more I carried this little bottle of Lactaid to help me digest dairy products. I was constantly sick and my digestion was usually uncomfortable. Being vegetarian, I would see the word "vegan" a lot and write it off, but eventually I began gravitating to eating dairy free and with the help of my new found naturopath, I was able to get myself off every single allergy and asthma pill and inhaler! If the mucus forming elements aren't enough to get you thinking about saying goodbye to milk- keep in mind the amount of hormones and pus there is in commercially produced milk. Even cow's that their milk is labeled organic are still pumped with hormones that are getting in your body. If you gotta have some milk- check out rice milk or almond milk.

Here is my mom holding my new niece Harper. This is her first grandbaby and I know she'll be just as awesome as a Grammy as she is a Mom :)


  1. Thanks for this post. I am a fairly new vegan and kept seeing "soy-free" and wondered why.

  2. Meat is murder. Tasty, delicious murder. Yummy. I really don't understand this. Our species are meat eaters. We almost always have been. It's in our nature. Why is it wrong? Is the wolf wrong for eating the rabbit? Is the lion wrong for eating the gazelle? It's the circle of life and it isn't going to change. I honestly don't have a problem with vegans. Well most of them anyway. The ones who think they are better than those of us who eat meat, as nature intended, can go fuck themselves. Seriously though what is wrong with being an omnivore? It's our natural sate.

  3. @ Anonymous. I love how people evoke "nature" as if there's some rhyme or reason to it. There is no "meant to" or "should" about what's healthier for you. We evolved the best way we could with what was available to us. Now there's a better diet available to us and if you don't think it's healthier you need to check out the number of athletes, MMA fighters etc who convert to veganism every year. These people know a lot more about it than you do.