Praised for its health benefits, soy has, traditionally, been consumed in Asia as soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy sauce etc.. A staple of vegetarian and vegan diets, soy is high in protein (it is a complete non-animal protein), low in fat and a good source of fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin Bs and omega-3s.
Its protein content has also given soy a prime role in meat replacement products, yet only a small proportion of soy grown around the world is actually consumed directly by humans. Did you know that 75% of the world’s soy goes in fact to feed chickens, pigs, cows and farmed fish? I was very surprised to learn that, if you follow a standard omnivorous diet, you probably consume on average 61 kg of soy per year.
How is that possible? Simply because over the past decades, to meet our ever growing global appetite for animal products (meat, fish and dairy), intensive farming has favoured soy feed. Soy is rich in nutrients, cheap and enables speedy growth in industrial feedlots.
Unfortunately, all this comes at a high environmental cost, the basis of WWF current campaign on Hidden Soy. This “hidden soy” is grown predominantly in South America, where irresponsible soy expansion is having a devastating impact on some of the worlds’ most valuable ecosystems, such as the Amazon, Cerrado and Gran Chaco. Large areas have fallen victims to deforestation, which leads to the loss of valuable natural habitats such as forests and savannahs, and has negative impacts on communities and workers.
WWF has released the infographic below highlighting how much soy is in the diet of the average European and how this impacts the environment. It also explains how we all can help preserve these regions by eating less meat, fish and dairy and by supporting responsibly produced soy. Don’t forget to spread the word by sharing this campaign on social media using #hiddensoy.
A Collaborative Post with WWF originally published on The Flexitarian