Previously, on ZooFit
Soybean oil is far from a new product, we have been using it for decades. But research (independent research not funded by the Food Industry) is showing us how soybean oil is potentially bad for our health.
But set the dangers to our health aside, there are even more reasons to put the soybean oil down and slowly back away. It has a long sordid history of destroying the planet.
Another “Profit Over Planet” Story
I don’t know about you, but I for one am getting a little sick of corporations lying to us and putting their bottom dollar not just above our health and wellbeing, but that of the earth’s. I mean, seriously, folks, we aren’t going to have ANY money without a freaking planet! But here we go again, as I learned more about soybean oil, the more I hate the Food Industry.
Because, while everyone is up in arms about orangutans in Asia and sea turtles in the ocean, soy is causing more damage than any other single product.
Why haven’t we heard more about this? Because the Food Industry puts billions of dollars into pseudo-science and pointing the finger at other problems. I’m starting to think they created the palm oil industry just so they could divert our attention to something else besides them.
Soybean farming is THE #1 agricultural product in South America. Most of the soybeans produced goes to feeding livestock in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) since grass-fed beef takes so long to raise cows to a proper slaughter weight. Instead of a natural diet, producers feed soy to put lots of weight on livestock in less time.
Environmental Dangers of Soybean Oil
To produce as much soybeans as the world currently demands, countries like Brazil are cutting down the Amazon rainforest at an unprecedented rate. Brazil recently overtook the US for the #1 producer of soy in the world. (1)
The act of destroying the lungs of the earth, clearing 150 acres a minute– 78 million acres a year– and edging thousands of species closer to the brink of extinction is just a part of the problem. Yup, there’s more! Clearing the number of trees at the rate humans are increases greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change. Not to mention the farming techniques are not sustainable for the soil. Most soy (80% of the soy grown in the US at least) is genetically modified, so it can withstand the tons of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers added to the environment. These toxic chemicals don’t just leech into the soil and water systems, they get soaked into the soy, and yeah, we eat it! (1, 2)
This isn’t about “boycotting” tofu or soy milk. Remember, soybean oil comes from the soybean. And it’s in everything. We are slowly poisoning ourselves and the planet, for the convenience and profit of food companies
Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell
The soybean industry is not unique in the nefarious tactics to keep us consuming their product– soda companies do it, candy, fast food, sugar-laden products disguised as “health food” like protein bars, granola, trail mixes, and fruit snacks– they’re all the same. And soybean is not even the worst. They’re just pretty typical.
Where’s the Beef (coming from?)?
But the US grows its own soybean. I mean, we were #1 for decades. Surely our consumption of soybean oil isn’t contributing to the destruction of the rainforest! Hold onto your hats, because yeah, there’s a small chance that our consumption habits really are contributing to it.
First, remember that most soybean is grown to actually feed livestock. Brazil has also edged closer to overtaking the US for exporting beef. In fact, 18-20% of the beef we eat in the US comes from Brazil. And it’s typically cheaper than meat produced in the United States.
And the nefarious practices don’t stop there. Remember that 80% of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified, which means the farms and corporations are contributing to the degradation of our soil. GMOs are banned in Europe for basically this very reason. But not so in the US. Lobbyists have spent billions of dollars to keep lawmakers from changing the way our food is produced. The Food Industry has spent just as much money writing research papers to create doubt. Many corporations do the same thing– rather than face the truth and pay fines or god forbid, change their practices, they just falsify evidence and make up facts (alternative facts) to support their agenda.
Here’s another loophole I discovered. Just because the label on the product says “made in the USA”, doesn’t mean the soybeans come from the US. It just means the the product was made, assembled, in the US. It’s a tricky wording that becomes problematic. We think we’re doing good, and truly, I don’t blame you for feeling duped. I was livid when I found this out. But instead of just ranting about how devious and “evil” the Food Industry is, I decided to do something about it.
Fighting the Food Industry (and winning for yourself)
Even after I learned this alarming information, it took me a few months to really get behind the idea of working on cutting soybean oil out of my diet. And that’s because I do suffer a bit of a perfectionist mentality. I already read labels for palm oil and high fructose corn syrup, plus I have been working on eliminating plastic waste (which is REALLY REALLY hard!). And while reading labels isn’t difficult for me, adding another limitation to my list is challenging.
But then I remembered I’m an animal trainer at heart. And when we add onto an existing behavior, we focus on that one aspect. In fact, other criteria may relax a little. So, if I wanted to practice eliminating soybean oil from my diet, I might have to lower my expectations of plastic packaging and possibly even sugar, or (*gulp*) palm oil.Once this behavior is easy peasy lemon squeezy, then I can reintroduce other criteria.
ZooFit Animal Training Tips for Eating Positive
I practiced this recently at the store, when I had a craving for a snack. I wanted to maintain “no palm oil” in my snack, but also bringing in the new criteria of “no soybean oil”. So I relaxed other criteria, such as plastic packaging and sugar. Even with the relaxed criteria, I found only 3 options in the snack aisle that I could try– 2 types of pretzels or a fruit and nut mix.
I also used this at the grocery store when looking for bouillon for cooking. I never realized just how prevalent soybean oil is, along with sugar, and (*deep breath*) palm oil. But I wanted to practice eliminating soybean oil, so I had to relax my criteria. I opted for an organic brand of bouillon cubes without sugar, soybean oil, or plastic packaging. But it did have palm oil. I weighed my options and decided to try this new brand, but only because they specifically stated their palm oil was organically and sustainably sourced.
My main point is you don’t have to perfect at Eating Green. We don’t need a few of us Eating Green perfectly, we need millions of people Eating Green imperfectly. If eliminating soybean oil from EVERYTHING you eat is impossible, find the ways you CAN incorporate this practice. Make it so easy (and so awesome, don’t forget to make it awesome) you cannot fail. Once you have established this as a habit, then you can play with it a little to incorporate other criteria. There is no time limit to improving your life.
Eating Positive Challenge
I started writing about soybean oil for my Eating Positive Challenge, but one thing led to another and I realized I wanted to make this a post for everyone to read, not just Patreon members. My Eating Positive Challenge officially starts in July, perfect for Plastic-Free July, and when I should get my Viome test results back.
But I feel taking my practice and training for eliminating an unhealthy food from my diet to the next level can also be a part of my challenge, showing each of us what we CAN do, not what we “should” do. Celebrate our wins. And keep spiraling up.
So, if you would like to participate in the Eating Positive Challenge, it’s super-easy. There are no challenge exercises, or recipes you have to try (unless you WANT to). All you have to do is sign up for the Eating Positive tier on Patreon for $3 a month, and you will automatically get notified when I post a new article, video, or photo to the challenge. You don’t have to actually commit to anything, just read or watch what you want. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.