Bad Science

- - posted in Ancient Archives

It’s common knowledge among rat owners that tofu is bad for rats. Soy protein itself or very cooked tofu isn’t too bad, but raw tofu should be avoided. As rats are used for experiments, a lot of work has been done in studying rats’ responses to various factors. Just as chocolate and aspirin are very bad for dogs, tofu is bad for rats. It’s not news, and it’s easy to prove with a few unpleasant experiments on poor rats.

Tofu is rather good for humans. Vast amounts of it are consumed by people in countries with healthy populations. Vast amounts of soymilk are also consumed. Vegans in the west have also been consuming a lot of soy for many years. Large scale studies have uncovered no adverse effects of soy consumption in humans, although vegan kids do tend to be lighter, slimmer and slightly shorter as they’ve not consumed the extra hormones in cow milk.

A recent press release news story appeared in many papers and websites, under a shock headline warning pregnant women to avoid soya. A team of scientists had discovered that soy makes rats infertile! They warned women to avoid soy products until further study. Some of the articles mentioned that China wasn’t exactly known for infertility, but still ran under a scary headline. A UK government committee has taken this warning to heart, and gave the story greater weight.

The story had about as much strength as a claim that chocolate is deadly poison to humans.It’s almost certainly just an attempt to get funding by whipping up a scare story, but some believe the meat and dairy industry are desperate to find something unhealthy about plant based diets. People who feel guilty eating meat but who don’t want to give it up also find consolation in these scare stories.

The soy “estrogen” scare is even in a database of known email hoaxes.

There’s a vast amount of evidence that meat and dairy foods are the biggest causes of death and illness after smoking, particularly via heart disease and cancer. Dairy products are contain (amongst other things) natural but non-human hormones. Children eating western diets are showing far greater signs of sex hormone problems than children on eastern diets. Are the press and government advising people to avoid meat? A little bit.*

If there is a risk in tofu, it’s very, very small, far less obvious than the many clear, proven benefits. If a problem doesn’t show up in a sample like the Chinese population, it’s not exactly major.

The link below is to a decent and quite balanced document by the UK’s Vegan Society. It looks like soy isn’t good for parrots either.

*Government warnings about the dangers of eating fish are rather worrying, and I don’t even eat fish. Our seas are seriously polluted.

Link: Phytoestrogens