Thursday, October 18, 2012

FALLing for... Soy?

It appears that Fall is starting to make its appearance here in Korea. Normally, this is not something I look forward to (because it means winter is next), but I am learning to love and appreciate all seasons.

Top 13 Reasons I Like Fall:
-The smell in the air
-Stepping on crunchy leaves
-Manageable hair thanks to less humidity
-FIG and persimmon season!!!
-The return of good apples in Korea
-Cooking with pumpkin
-Finding new ways to cook with pumpkin
-My birthday
-No more fruit flies swarming my bananas
-Making cute halloween crafts with my students
-Elton John coming to Seoul!
-Soups and stews
AND... drinking warm beverages 

I just so happen to work at a preschool in a department store. Right outside the door is a *shudder* Starbucks. I try to avoid all mainstream food-ish things, because I believe they are evil.... But lately, I confess that I have been enjoying some Starbucks.

When I came back from getting my tea this morning, I found
another one on my desk! My wonderful
co-worker bought me one too! The tea gods
were smiling on me today!

Before I became vegan, I loved Green Tea Lattes. But, I didn't love how they made me bloated and how they left a mucosy film in my mouth. 
These days, I prefer the vast assortment of herbal teas they have. I am currently obsessed with the Hibiscus Blend!

On the days that I am craving something a little more creamy and rich, I order.... a Soy Green Tea Latte.

Choose the mug if you're not in a hurry. Save some
natural resources, people!

I do not believe that processed soy (or any processed food) to be optimal, but I KNOW it is much better than dairy... BY FAR. 

Before I begin, let me preface with this- not all soy is created equal. If there was ever a situation where you needed to choose between GMO soy or starving to death, please choose the latter. :)
As with anything, before you consume something that is questionable**- please know the source. The soy milk used in Korean Starbucks is called "Soy Caffe"- it is non-GMO AND non-sweetened! SCORE!
Korean Soy milk
Yay! Thanks for making a great soy choice, Starbucks Korea!

In the US, as far as I know from research, Starbucks uses "Silk" soy milk. Silk has a bit of a tarnished reputation in the vegan/vegetarian community because they used to use organic soy beans and changed to conventionally grown.. and yes, even GMOs without any notice! Obviously they received a HUGE backlash over this and as of last year, announced that they have cleaned up their act. Now, all Silk products have been verified GMO free by the "Non-GMO Project".
Search here to see if your favorite items are verified non-GMO.

Here are the nutrition breakdowns for a Soy Green Tea Latte vs. a Dairy Milk Green Tea Latte: 
The main points that I would like to show are at the bottom of the charts. Despite what the dairy industry has lead us to believe, there is more calcium, more iron AND more PROTEIN in the soy drink. Take that, dairy propaganda!!! We are on to you now!
*The soy drink also has ZERO cholesterol, More Vitamin A, and there is more fiber and less saturated fat.

The sodium and sugar differences are likely due to the added cane juice (sugar) and sea salt (sodium) in the Silk product. But the nutrition facts would be different in Korea since there are no additives in the soy milk. :) The reason for the increased carbs (and thus, cals) is due to soy being a plant product. Puss (aka- milk) however, is not a plant product. Everyone knows that puss is low-carb. ;)

Still concerned about calories and want to keep your latte with dairy milk?
Well- to save an additional 72 calories and 18g sugars, you can forgo the "Simple Syrup" (sweetener). Your latte will still have a sweetness from the Silk and you will have much less empty sugars and cals in your body!
Note: The nutrition facts below show the syrup used in the U.S. Starbucks. There are 3 squirts of syrup in a tall size latte in the US, but only 2 in Korea!

Here are a few more basic facts about Soy Milk that the dairy industry doesn't want you to know:

- Soy milks provide more than 10 times as much essential fatty acids as cow's milk. (healthier fat)
- Soy milks are cholesterol free, vs cow's milk which contains 34mg of cholesterol per cup!
- Soy milks lower total LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, but cow's milk raises both total and LDL
- Cow's milk has about 9 times as much saturated fat as soy does.
- Soy milks contain numerous protective phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases.
  (i.e. osteoporosis and heart disease)
- No animals are endlessly tortured for the production of soy milk.
- No Bovine Growth Hormones in soy milk.
- When you are drinking soy milk, you aren't ingesting the hormones from a large animal.

Most Americans know very little about soy and don't want to venture out to try new things- understandable. In a hot latte, you will be unable to tell the taste difference between your regular dairy and soy alternative- trust me! Just by subbing out something that you can't taste anyway,
    will do a great benefit to your body, the environment AND the lives of other creatures that we
    share the Earth with!

No one is under the illusion that any Starbucks product is good for you. Anything loaded with sugar and caffeine is not good for your health, regardless of what ELSE is in it. I just like to help people make smarter choices. The BEST choice would be a herbal tea of course, but for those that aren't quite ready to make that step- choosing soy is a better alternative. Choosing to forego
the "Simple Syrup" is an even better alternative.

*Tips for a healthier Starbucks experience: 
- Choose tea over coffee. (there are no health benefits to coffee regardless of what the coffee
   industry would have you believe)
- Choose herbal tea over black tea.
- Substitute soy for dairy.
- Opt for no sweetener OR less. (ex- you can ask for 1 pump instead of 3)
- Coffee and tea are diuretics/ very dehydrating. Drink lots of water to make up for fluids lost. Did 
   you know that when you drink a cup of coffee, you will pee out a cup and a half of water!?
- Use coffee and tea products occasionally. Don't rely on your caffeine or sugar fix to get you 
   through the day! Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a
   nutrient-  rich diet. You won't need to make up for lack of energy if you take care of yourself :)

Sexy Latte

Knowing your options, seeing the facts, optimizing your nutrition in realistic, everyday circumstances...

These are just a few more ways to live your life "The Empowered Way"

Wishing you love and a mucous-free way to keep warm,


**I used the word "questionable" in relation to soy because 91% of all the soy produced in the US is GMO!!!!! Chances are most of us are just shoveling it in without even knowing it! Soy is found in almost every processed food in some form or the other AND the animals that are used for meat in the US are fed a steady diet of GM corn and soy (among other undesirable things)!

*** All nutrition facts were found here. This site is a great resource for finding out the facts in mainstream foods.

**** Want to know more? A previous post about dairy can be found here.


  1. Meg I love this!!! Thanks so much for all the info! Fall is such a great time to have a hot tea or latte. I'm happy that Starbucks in Korea is able to provide us with a good soy milk option!

    1. Thanks, Meg! Yes! We are lucky! We are also lucky that a tall latte in Korea only has 2 pumps of syrup vs 3 in the US. It's little things like this that are the difference in the obesity epidemic in the US vs. Korea.

  2. Meg thanks for this post! I am so happy you did not stop writing. I'm learning so much from you. By the way, is it true that soy milk is not good for men because of the high levels of estrogen? Also, since Silk does not have a good reputation, what brand of soy milk do you advice people to drink? I live in California, just in case it makes any difference in terms of what's available. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Magda! That is a great question! Soy is a phytoestrogen. There is SO MUCH research out there on the topic of soy and its effect on hormone levels. I have really done lots of research on this because since I am vegan, I need to know!!!! I am now of the opinion that the amount of phytoestrogens in soy is so very minuscule that it has no affect. Of course, the more you use these estrogens would build up. The real threat to men is the estrogens in plastics and other chemicals such as laundry soap, shower gel, deodorant, etc! Those are seriously scary and pose a real threat to the male sex! There is a phenomenon called "The disappearing male" that deals with testosterone levels decreasing every generation since we have added those things to our lives! Currently teenage boys have MUCH LESS testosterone than their grandfathers did at age 40!!!! Google "the disappearing male" to read all about it!

      Also, I wanted to add that studies have shown that men who consume one to two servings of soy milk per day are 70% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who don't. Interesting!

    2. Oh and here is a great resource for finding non-GMO milks!

      Choose an organic one and you're set! :) Let me know which one you try. I'd love to know about the brands available in the US, so I can be jealous ;)

    3. Thanks for the info Meg! Its sound like drinking a glass of soy milk a day won't really effect my guy too much but could even prevent prostate cancer. And yes, I recently started looking into the chemicals in the cosmetics we use and it is all very scary.

      Silk is listed on the website you mentioned. I am a bit confused. Is Silk a bad soy milk brand? There are really many brands to choose from, especially at Whole Foods and other local markets (I think I have seen most of the ones listed on the website). Some Japanese restaurants even sell their own soy milk and tofu products. I am lucky to live in a very close proximity to many international grocery stores and I sometimes buy my soy milk at Ranch99 (a Chinese market chain). They also sell Fu, a soy based product that you can substitute for a yogurt. Perhaps it's also available in Korea.

    4. It appears that Silk has cleaned up its act. I would personally never trust them again because they showed gross negligence in the past. You could probably do much better- I am SOOOO jealous of all of your options!! I have never heard of "Fu" but it sounds great! Nothing like that in Korea :'-(. Where do you live?

    5. Good to learn this! Thanks for the advice, Meg! I live in the Silicon Valley (30 miles from San Francisco). There is a lot of immigrants, myself included, living here, thus such a great variety of international foods available. Btw, I love the new look of this blog.

    6. I would LOVE to visit there! I'm sure I would LOVE it! Thank you for the compliment about the blog! I've been making lots of changes! It's exciting! Thanks for always reading and being my most loyal commenter <3

    7. No, thank YOU for educating me on healthy eating! Yours is the only food related blog I follow because you are always honest in how you write about this topic. Plus you help me be more creative with my food :)

  3. Great Post Meg, I always learn so much from these. Also enjoyed the graphics you added in this one. It really adds punch to the points you are making and some of them are quite entertaining! Soy power!