As other comments here also bring up, direct human consumption accounts for about a fifth of all produced soy beans, with only six being in the forms consumers directly probably think of (tofu, edamame, etc.), and the other 14 in the shape of e.g. soy bean oil.
The main driver for all this production (and hence deforestation), however, at a whopping 77%, is to be a source of cheap livestock feed.
This is what the article says. It does not, directly anyway, make any health or environmental claims regarding one diet over another.
Deforestation of the rain forest is bad. We all know this. And because it is only done to meet demands from consumers, what we as consumers can do is demand access to supply chain insight so we can then avoid products that come from this horribly shortsighted process. Regardless of whether said product is a piece of meat, a bottle of oil, or a block of tofu.
I’m not expecting anyone to go vegan or even vegetarian (I’m neither). But if we all eat a small portion of meat once or twice a week instead of large portions every day, demand for soy will go way down.
I'm not vegetarian, but after seeing the results of deforestation first hand I've reduced my meat intake substantially. Side benefits included improved cooking abilities and lost weight without trying.
I highly recommend chickpeas and fava beans in particular. Much better for stomach than kidney beans, and perfect for many kinds of rice and pasta dishes. Fava beans are also very easy to grow outside in most climates if you're into gardening and have the space.
This is really not true with the possible exception of iron, which you can mitigate by eating a lot of citrus (this helps with absorption; plants have lots of iron, but heme iron has much greater bio-availability).
I am not vegan since I eat dairy and eggs still, however this is purely because I enjoy them and not for any particular dietary reason. I allow myself these luxuries while understanding that's what they are: luxuries, not requirements. We are all human, after all, and we can't all be monks who optimize every behavior. I think it's important to be honest about that and truthful about our motivations when we decide to eat animal products, because it is really not by necessity (at least, not in the western world, where plant-based alternatives are affordable and readily purchased).
If everybody ate mostly soy and legumes it would solve a lot of problems, even if they still have a steak or cheese every now and then. But they don't need to have that steak or cheese to be healthy :)
yeah that's because you are indirectly consuming those vitamins that have been given to the animals...
Look at honey - obviously good for you, obviously sustainable, not allowed in the vegan diet.
Humans can live without honey, bees need to survive.
I hope my comment does not start a carnivore vs vegan war (as just like you, I'm neither).
You're comparing two cases of "mass production" without any quantifier.
Beef has an over 15 times larger carbon footprint compared to tofu.
So sure, if everyone switches we would substitute one mass production for another, but we could feed 15 times as many people (all else equal).
I haven't ran the numbers, but parent hinted at a cow needing to eat, say, 10 Kg of soy per Kg of meat produced, while you could have just eaten the soy directly.
Meat production uses a lot of land to produce food for your food, that's why it's so inneficient. Instead you could just use a tiny fraction of that land, and grow enough food for everyone.
This discussion is about how producing meat requires tons and tons of land in the form of soy bean fields that feed the animals, which indirectly and directly contributes to deforestation. Now you come along and say, just eat meat produced using this other method which takes a lot MORE land for the same amount of meat production?
Thanks for telling me what the fields around me are!
It's just a very very simple math based on the amount of crops it takes to grow animals for meat -- and soy is much more efficient than grass in that sense, so your suggestion would make things decidedly worse for environment.
If the grass pasture is already there in cycle, it's not being used for anything else. Might as well put cattle on it.
Europe is varied, not sure where you live but the forests in Northern/North-Central Europe that I'm familiar with absolutely do support wildlife. I think it shouldn't be controversial that returning agricultural land to nature, whatever "nature" means in different areas, is good for environment.
Anyway, this is wildly beside the point, which is that pasture feeding cattle can't satisfy the current demand for meat, not even close. Converting soy fields to grazing fields would be an ecological disaster without a serious decrease in worldwide meat consumption, as the yields would be far lower.
But why would you do that? Don't cut down forests for soy, and don't cut it down for pasture either. Use existing green grass fields to feed cattle. This can be done in between crop rotations.
> without a serious decrease in worldwide meat consumption
Maybe that's the point?
Eat less (if you want to eat at all) and eat grass-fed. Do cattle even choose to eat soy when they have green grass available?
Eating less meat was the point from the start as the main/only way to decrease soy footprint, so if you're not suggesting to replace soy feed with grass then this whole discussion was in the end more or less pointless.
Monocrops are terrible for the planet & wildlife, and are only even viable due to heavy use of pesticides & NPK fertliser.
Organic farming requires large amounts of animal manure to work, guess where it comes from?
Please go read about regenerative agriculture - that's the way forward.
This is true, technically speaking. Practically, you couldn't produce even a fraction of the amount of meat that the market wants using this way. If all meat was grass fed meat, it would be a luxury good. I don't think that would be too bad to be honest, it would lead to much less meat consumption overall.
Basically, "just eat grass fed meat" = "everyone must eat a lot less meat, unless they're rich I guess"
That overlap is not 100%. Some good pasture is bad farmland, but the claim that good pasture is good farmland is a good rule of thumb
I don’t need or crave sugar, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, tea... but cheese, yogurt, milk, and their derivations are irresistible.
Your argument could be applied to a host of topics. The truth is, the vast majority of people aren't willing to change. For example, heart disease is the biggest killer in the world and yet people still don't take the required steps to prevent themselves of suffering from that disease.
Sure, but it's still counterproductive. Most people respond to guilt by just digging their heels in. When you want to convince someone to give up something dear to their heart, you have to tread carefully.
There's nothing inherently wrong with anything. That said, they're being restated for a reason and unless that reason is the satisfaction of reading the post or hearing the words out of your own mouth, restating these facts doesn't make any sense.
"We found that greater intakes of total, unprocessed, and processed red meat were each associated with a higher risk of CHD. Compared with total, unprocessed, or processed red meat, other dietary components such as soy, nuts, and legumes were associated with a lower risk of CHD." 
In particular, the findings are entirely compatible with
1. The possibility that meat will lead to a reduction in risk if used in the same kinds of dishes as the nuts and legumes in this study
2. Nuts and legumes will lead to an increase in risk if used in the same kinds of dishes as the hotdogs and burgers which were the focus of the study.
I've seen people (not you) dump citations like this to claim health benefits for crap like facon, which is deepfried coconut infused in liquid smoke, at the same time as branding a caesar salad a cardiac risk.
There is no vegan food alternative to say a rare steak or raw tuna which is extremely flavorful, nutritious and light.
reducitarian: reducing proportion of non vegetarian meals without complete elimination
Some strategies for achieving this include meatless Mondays, weekday vegetarian meals or sticking to vegetarian meals at home.
I agree imitation meat usually tastes like crap but I’ve had great vegan fried chicken in Japan where I didn’t even know it was not meat until after the meal. That and just getting used to all the non-meat stuff you can eat (ramen, MSG, bean curd, legumes, kimchi). In American cuisine i think of vegan food as imitation meat and stramed veggies...
I think what most people associate with meat is actually the flavors that go into the meat-centric dish most cuisine is based on.
There's a good reason steak is such a common food for vegetarians to give in and eat.
Don't forget to add some MSG to get a savory umami flavour.
Like someone else said downthread, guilt-tripping people into veganism doesn't work. All it achieves is making you look like an ass.
Also, if you use Google Chrome, you're literally a murderer.
My point was that if you think in terms of meat, or horses, you'll only be able to come up with solutions to your problems in those terms.
If you go one level up and realize that your problem has nothing to do with horses or animals, and deals with transportation then you'll realize you can solve that problem and never have to deal with horses again.
People enjoying horse riding is in fact a completely unrelated problem (entertainment, enjoyment, or whatever you want to call it), as I was making the point by mentioning cannibalism (you're doing it because you enjoy it, not because human flesh is necessary for your sustenance).
If you open your mind to the fact that it may be that what you enjoy about your food isn't the meat but the flavors and effort the chef puts into the dish that just happens to contain meat, you'll see that you're probably associating that deliciousness with the meat when in fact it's just because the deliciousness was imbued onto the meat dish. We started using meat because of its convenience, not because it has some magical properties that make food palatable where other things cannot substitute.
I personally am not vegan because animal welfare is not high enough in my priorities to overcome the hassles of adjusting around the current bias towards meat in most cuisine. But if most cuisine started orienting around non-meat dishes (and a lot of cultures already do this, especially from countries that historically couldn't afford meat), I know I would not complain.
It's uniquely American (maybe European too?) to eat a giant slab of relatively cheap lean steak with just salt and pepper... most other cuisines mix meat with veggies, or in the case of Japan go for slightly higher quality (non-factory farmed) but lower volume meat consumption. Veggies in American cuisine are an afterthought (something you have to eat to "balance" your meal) whereas if you take Chinese dishes (while many feature meat), they can often center around veggies and make them the primary focus.
I find most vegan food distateful to the point of depression-inducing, and of all diets I've tried nothing has felt better for my body than going low-carb and upping my fat intake; which is nigh-impossible in an already limited vegan diet.
I'm happy that it works for some people, and I'm not against economically reasonable measures to reduce the externalities of meat production. But veganism is absolutely nowhere near being a universally viable diet for human beings.
There is no way personal choice affects industry enough to make a difference. Regulation effects it much much more. If you don't want people eating meat, reduce all the subsidies and make meat price sky rocket, problem reduced.
Say it with me, there is no such thing as the free market, there is no such thing as buying your way into fixing environmental problems, some exception though may be found in religion where certain things are banned so it's so socially unacceptable to eat those things that it may well be codified into law. When it comes to fixing these things, it's politics all the way down. Policy, regulation, and enforcement. Also private ownership of the land with terms of ownership saying you can't do anything to this land, through zoning laws. You want to be an environmental billionaire, buy all this land and do nothing with it because you can't and because it's privately owned the government can't decide to let people use it to create jobs, they could however rezone it.
There is a lab behind it investigating how to make a grass-based product that can be used instead of milk even for making cheese. That means getting microorganisms to create the right proteins from ground up grass in a fermentor.
Tips from yeast experts are welcome:
Not necessarily - I don't know about where you're from, but here our cows and sheep eat grass and live in fields that wouldn't be suitable for crops
I tried finding the English page corresponding to https://www.wwf.se/mat-och-jordbruk/kottguiden/ekologiskt-no... but failed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I'd actually make the argument that most dairy cattle have a much better life than any but the most "organic" chicken. Speaking for the situation here in Germany, where I studied veterinary medicine.
Mammal vs Fish is a very different question.
But if you consider the way demand increases because of the scale of the world population and economic growth (i.e. people are getting richer and want to finally be able to afford and enjoy meat) the bottom line is that, when it comes to environmental issues, we also need to reduce the global human population sooner than later because this really is the root cause.
Soybeans have a high protein yield, hence why they're grown for feed. The plant fixates nitrogen as alluded to above. Soy is a complete protein, albeit with an amino acid profile that is not quite as similar to human muscle tissue as some meat.
It is a miracle plant! Soybeans are easy to prepare and taste fantastic, and can form the core of a healthy diet.
We need to stop eating meat on this scale but you will never be able to convince more than a subset of people. You have to take it away or replace it with something of equal (!) quality.
It's insane how damaging (and evil) beef production is.
Disclaimer: I eat quite a lot of meat but since earning good money after university have made an effort to buy better quality organic meat whenever possible. I replace some meats entirely with vegan alternatives because in some instances it makes NO difference in taste or even texture.
I would not eat a vegan burger, never bbq a vegan steak. But chili or spaghetti bolognese with vegan ground meat can be really delicious since flavors and texture are overpowered by other ingredients anyways. Same with lots of sandwich meats.
Meat is WAY too cheap for what it is: a climate damaging product for which live animals are brutally tortured and killed. If you have money, please at least buy meat which has animal well-being in mind.
My mind on this was changed after witnessing a botched slaughtering of a pig. I can never get those screams and blood fountains out of my mind. The electrical stunning failed and workers didnt bother to repeat it because... time. Gotta keep producing.
What you are saying is: I no longer do normal and plain slavery, I now do organic slavery. Instead of importing people from Africa, I get my slaves from small cities nearby, which are well fed. It's all bullshit and marketing. You aren't anywhere more evolved for eating organic meat. It's hilarious to read your comment, it's basically everything what is wrong in the world. People finding more expensive ways of doing the same trash behaviour "with conscience". I can't believe somebody can fall for this.
Just stop eating meat and start to think of the animals, if you care.
Just like slavery, it took white people centuries to stop being lazy and assholes to stop with it. The same it will be with meat, when people start looking at eating meat as a very nasty thing that our evolved society no longer needs and also becomes unsustainable(we are already very close), people are going to start quitting eating meat.
I never said such thing and btw, not that it matters, but my family has a history of being slaved, that's why I put this argument. It doesn't make it any prettier if you are enslaved with or without food, it's still slavery. The same is for eating meat, it doesn't matter if it's organic or not, it's still eating meat.
Do I have to draw for you?
I agree with this. Of course there are some plant-based "substitutes" that are just not the same in terms of taste/texture. It's often easier to just treat them as their own thing -- it's not a replacement for a hamburger, it's just a black bean patty in a bun, and it can be pretty good!
That said, while I'm all in favour of more "substitutes" and lab-grown meat, etc., I think it's also helpful to branch out and try different cuisines that don't rely so heavily on meat. There are plenty of absolutely delicious Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican dishes (just to name a few off the top of my head) that are completely vegan. They're not relying on "meat substitutes", they're just....using delicious ingredients that happen to not be made from animals. And those often end up tasting much better than trying to figure out some substitute for a big hunk of steak or whatever.
At any rate, I think ultimately, any attempt people make to cut down the amount of animal products in their diet is a good thing. You don't need to go 100% all beans all the time...but cutting down meat consumption can make a big difference in and of itself.
Also, not carcasses from the same herd going to the slaughter house are the same quality. By paying for the highest quality, you may actually drive up numbers.
The key drivers for each and every 'y' are economics, poverty and/or poor regulation, while 'x' is just the current manifestation. People plant soy because that's the best crop available for them. If the soy market collapses, they will resort to some other cash crop. If you drive the people out of the area but leave poor regulation in place, some mega-corp will discover there are profits to be made, and continue the process.
First, we should put a price on carbon given the clear negative externalities. Animal agriculture — when you actually factor in everything like transportation, chemical fertilizer production, and land-use change — is a big driver of climate change.  Put a price on carbon, and consumption will go down.
Organic, while not a panacea, at least reduces the petrochemical component — so it’s an easy first step you can take.
For the animals that are still grown, switch to sustainable farming practices like agroforestry, which consists of a mosaic of trees and grasslands. And wherever possible, we should reforest land. We should pay countries with forests not to cut them down.
Research is being done on breeding perennial versions of our popular annual staples. The perennials have much deeper roots, storing tons of carbon. And less tillage means less carbon being put into the atmosphere.
Aquaculture and fishing can be made more sustainable as well — though it’s an area I’m less familiar with.
Finally, support local farms. If we are going to eat more plants and vegetables, it would have a big impact to get them from places closer to home. Monocultures are the big culprit — if we support local farms growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, it’s better for our health and the health of the planet as well. Consider a “victory garden” at home. It may only provide you some herbs and tomatoes, but you’ll feel good doing it and learn more about — and become more invested in — food grown with care.
I became mostly vegan for personal reasons about five years ago. It was a struggle for about two weeks. I’m not dogmatic about it, nor do I think people should be shamed into it. But I did become much healthier. I actually gained muscle and lost fat (with exercise). (Again, I’m not trying to brainwash anyone into doing it — and I’m a data point of one.) But if that’s not for you, maybe my list above contains some element that you’d be in support of.
Rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach, or shaming people, we can make incremental steps and before you know it we’ll be in a much more sustainable position.
1: For years, agriculture has been misrepresented as a small slice of the emissions pie. But this is because it’s typically measured solely by things like tractor fuel and tillage. These estimates ignore petrochemical fertilizer production, trucking, etc. These things are typically listed as separate categories - but our food production system is deeply tied to all aspects of our energy economy.
I don't think insect protein will ever be a huge factor for direct Human consumption, because even though it can theoretically be raised on less resources (or with less impact) than other animal protein, it takes a lot of man power to process insects into something edible.
People want 1$ burgers. They don't need them. They can eat thousands of alternative meals to nourish themselves. Meat should be a luxury only, everything else is unsustainable and sooner or later the problem will make itself known anyways. We can still choose how inconvenient it's going to be, however.
I eat quite a lot of meat myself, choosing to pay more for better quality product with animal well-being in mind. I am dumbfounded at the availability of cheap meat.
It's 1.000x worse than international air traffic in terms of climate and ecology but somehow it's "normal" that everyone can get pounds and kilograms of meat for less than 10$. It's wrong and unsustainable and the only question there is if we control the inevitable crash or not.
> Whilst the expansion of pasture for beef production is the leading driver of deforestation in Brazil, soy still plays a significant role when we take its indirect impacts into account. To end deforestation, there are a couple of key actions we can take. For consumers, since most deforestation is driven by expanding pastures for beef, or soy to feed poultry and pigs, reducing meat consumption is an effective way to make a difference. For companies and regulators, zero-deforestation policies must be more widely implemented (i.e. not only focused on the Amazon) and must be more carefully designed to take spillover effects into account.
Tl;dr: soy is a driver of deforestation IF you ignore where it goes. The real driver of deforestation is meat production.
I generally eat lots of vegetables and supplement B12 and D.
The disease you were likely suffering from was mental. Being different wears on you and the micro aggressions of being a minority wears on you after a while. The food industry ads, cooking shows, bbqs, nostalgia, that random guy that says being vegetarian is dumb or deadly, etc. The mental pain builds up and causes the damn to break after a while.
I had a similar experience in the brief time that I went vegetarian. Plus I was skinny at the time and lost weight.
B12 deficiency stores can deplete over 2-4 years so it will be a while before you notice.
You also need very small amounts (monkeys get their B12 intake by accidentally eating bugs on their bananas).
I tried going vegetarian for a period of my life and I started feeling extremely tired after a while. I stopped doing it mainly because getting protein is hard and I didn't notice any other positive changes.
Restricting yourself to expensive, high quality meat is a perfectly fair way of sustaining yourself and making sure the environment doesn't suffer too much.
If everyone only ate as much meat as they needed things wouldn't be so out of whack.
The unnecessary slaughtering of animals is a problem all by itself in my opinion.
> Restricting yourself to expensive, high quality meat
What about people who can only afford dollar menu quality beef?
> If everyone only ate as much meat as they needed things wouldn't be so out of whack.
A corollary statement from other threads are if only we limit population size meat would be environmentally viable.
I eat meat once or twice per week. Works really well.
Soy is a great crop with many use casers. The chart in the article which shows different use cases is really cool. We can't say that about many other crops!
Cholesterol and saturated fats are only a problem if your diet is unbalanced.
Anyways, you can eat chemicals to supplement your deficits by all means. But that does not make a 100% vegan diet healthy for every other human on the planet.
I don't think the rich necessarily intend to, but in consumerist societies the consequences of our actions are so far removed from the moment of decision they usually don't even register for a lot of people, and surely don't make an impact on our ethical radar.
As a moderately well off Dutch guy, I am one of those rich people, and I'm constantly finding out how I am consuming rather than using the earth. I'm losing trust in our society, it's like discovering we are governed by a bunch of children instead of adults. I guess I'm still naive at 40 years old.
 Assuming automation takes care of labor shortages, the only meaningful restriction is the availability of resources and less humans mean more resources per human to be exploited.
You have no historical evidence that the wealthy will better distribute the wealth once the population shrinks.
Eating meat allowed people to evolve and we're hardwired to strive to eat it.
"We" are already diminishing in numbers, the problem is to stop at a reasonable number and make sure "the others" follow suit.
None of us are lantern-jawed propaganda poster supermen, though. So testosterone is not the end-all, be-all hormone :-)
Cattle, can also digest the rest of the plant. Like they would digest grass. And if you have the stuff anyway, why not feed it to grow some cattle meat.
However, for high performance, that ain't enough, you still need more protein. Soy protein is an important and (so far) cheap protein source in many animal feeds. But it is getting more expensive and problematical...