Plant-based, versatile, and oh-so-tasty, tofu is an easy option for many vegans. Whether it is silken or firm, the block of processed soy beans can be used in a variety of dishes. You can make vegan cheesecake, “chicken” nuggets, or simply marinate the cubes in soy sauce and throw them in a veggie stir-fry. In addition, an unopened package of tofu can usually stay good in your refrigerator for over a month until you are ready to use it. However, nutrition aside, is tofu good for you? This adored and seemingly benign product may have a darker side.
Tofu’s Damaging Stereotype
It is a common scenario: a person explains how he or she does not eat meat and the response usually involves a question about tofu. Vegetarians and vegans are quickly categorized as strange creatures who idealize this pale and weird soy derivative. Vegans are assumed to live solely on tofu as a replacement for all meat, proven by the tofu turkeys and hotdogs available in supermarkets.
This viewpoint may appear harmless. However, it does stereotype vegans as people who are forced to depend on tofu as their only source of protein. In addition, many who have never tried it believe tofu is tasteless, even though it has a strong bean flavor. This only adds to the existing misconception that a vegan lifestyle is too difficult and boring to acquire. Therefore, it is essential that vegans or those interested in eating more grains and vegetables look outside the tofu box.
According to the Non-GMO Project, 94 percent of the United States’ soy crop was considered high-risk of being GMO in 2011. As genetically modified organisms, there are many detrimental health effects these soy beans can have on consumers. Over 60 countries have placed restrictions or bans on their existence, recognizing the damage they can do to our health and environment. The United States, on the other hand, has accepted the GMO research conducted by the same companies that profit from them. Thankfully, people are making their own choices to avoid these altered crops in spirit of “it is better to be safe than sorry.”
Being soy-derived, tofu is likely to be a GMO. However, people are becoming more informed about the issue. This has not gone unnoticed by companies. There are now plenty of tofu brands that are Non-GMO certified. All you have to look for is the small blue box with a leaf and butterfly on it that tells you the tofu is safe.
For someone who has just become vegan, tofu can be the simple choice. It is exciting to try in many recipes but do not rely on it: Tofu is not the only source of plant-protein. Plus, one of the many great benefits of removing meat from your diet is being able to try new food. Whether it is a vegetable you have never had before or trying a different kind cuisine, becoming vegan encourages you to try an array of delicious and nutritious foods. So, every now and then, step away from the tofu.
What are your favorite tofu recipes? Do you think tofu is good for you? Let us know in the comments below.