Dear Dr Daniel: I have been vegan for about six months now. I turned to organic soy milk as my dairy substitute. I would say on average, I probably drink about 6 oz. a day. All of a sudden, I started feeling quite anxious. I have been trying to really analyze what could be causing this, wondering if perhaps this was a reflection of my dietary changes. Do you know if soy is know to increase anxiety in women? The evidence points to soy and there is nothing worse in the world than having your body scream out with symptoms of panic. — Charlotte
Dear Charlotte, Soy can cause a wide range of emotional and mental imbalances, including anxiety, even at relatively low levels of consumption. I say that based on the evidence of scientific studies, clinical cases and anecdotal stories such as yours. Six ounces a day of soy milk is not a large portion — at least not compared to people who guzzle soy milk all day long — but it carries a load of phytoestrogens sufficient to cause problems in susceptible people. I’m a nutritionist and not an MD so cannot advise you to stop the soy, but if I personally were in your situation, I would cut it out entirely.
You do not say what led you to become a vegan six months ago. Most people make that decision with the very best intentions but insufficient and/or inaccurate information. I would recommend you read The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, who was a committed vegan for 22 years before she realized it was not only destroying her health but also harming the planet. Her book is compassionate, compelling and beautifully written.
Dear Kaayla, I am so terribly sorry to hear about the deaths of Richard and Valerie James. That is truly devastating news. What an amazing legacy they have left behind for the world. A testimony to the people they were I am sure.
I got very sick a few years ago and have turned to nutrition to help set me aright. Yet, something that should seemingly be easy (i.e. figuring out what to eat) is actually a very daunting task. After working with a nutritionist here in the U.S. for months and after reading her assigned reading (mainly The China Study and Dr. Robert Young’s alkaline diet books) I went vegan, because the case presented was so compelling. But then I get newsletters from Dr. Mercola’s website condemning veganism with many testimonies and studies backing him up as well. It all becomes so overwhelming. I find myself throwing my hands up in the air asking myself, “Who do I listen to? Who is right?” Ah! I suppose, the answer is, I listen to my own body. And my body certainly does not do well with soy. I am cutting it out completely. I am terrified that a food could have such a nasty effect on human health, and even more shocked that soy is sold as a “health food.” Thank you for your help. — Amanda
Dear Amanda, Many people have been led astray by the fashionability of vegan diets, bestselling books such as The Veganist and Skinny Bitch and by increasing numbers of vegan nutritionists. Most of these people base their “science” on T. Colin Campbell’s book The China Study, which seems to be regarded as a Bible by devotees of the vegan movement. To learn the many ways in which Dr. Campbell uses and misuses science and statistics to prop up vegan propaganda, read Chris Masterjohn’s blog right here on the westonaprice.org website. For an even more comprehensive expose, check out Denise Minger’s work. If you google “China Study” and “Denise Minger,” her articles will come right up. To sum it up, Campbell has been thoroughly discredited.
Hello: I have 2 vegans in my household and they eat quite a bit of commercial soy (meatless) products. Are there any, that you know of that I could order or buy that have been processed correctly so that it is not harmful. I am very, very interested in reading your book and have ordered it! Thank you. — Mary
Dear Mary, The only soy products that will nourish your family are the old-fashioned, fermented “good old soy” products miso, natto and tempeh. A little tofu once in awhile is not usually a problem. Modern industrially processed products — including soy milk, soy nuts as well as veggie burgers, energy bars or other products using soy protein isolate and similar modern soy ingredients — definitely pose risks. Vegans are a high risk group for damage from excess soy consumption because so many use it as both meat and dairy replacement.
I would recommend your family take the “Vegetarian Tour” of our website. However, you may want to first read The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. I recommend Keith’s work to start because she was herself a vegan for many years and shows an unusually complete understanding of where your family members are coming from. My book The Whole Soy Story discusses the specific risks of soy in great depth. Thanks for buying my book. Good luck to you and your family.
Dear Dr Daniel: I used to be a vegan, but I eat some dairy products and fish now to satisfy the protein craving. I still crave tofu though. A friend of mine who drinks large quantities of soy milk is a vegetarian and says it’s the only thing that satisfies her craving. For the most part, we are both pretty intuitive and tuned into our bodies, and can tell when things are good or bad for us. So I was wondering if soy, like a drug, fools us into thinking it is good when it is really causing all sorts of undesirable side effects and can be habit forming too. – Nancy
Dear Nancy, Many people say they crave soy milk and feel “so good” after drinking it. Packaged soy milk is likely to contain two highly addictive substances: sugar and MSG. Sugar or some other sweetener is added to most of the popular brands to cover the “beany” taste. Although you won’t see MSG on the label, it’s found in any brand of soy milk that uses soy protein isolate as an ingredient. Regular tofu would not contain sugar or MSG but “lite” and/or flavored “readytogo” brands might. Another possibility is that the soy phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) have an addictive effect related to hormonal fluctuation. You say you are eating “some dairy products and fish.” Does that mean several times a week? I would increase consumption to at least once per day and ideally several servings a day. You would also likely benefit greatly from eating eggs. Most longtime vegans are starved for both protein AND fat.
Dear Kaayla, I am 33 and have been a “live fooder” for 3 years now. I’m 6′ tall, down to 145 pounds and my doctor praises my outstanding total cholesterol of 135. I am married and very attracted to my wife but have no sex drive. Is this normal? What thought might you have to remedy this? I have tried different ways of raw eating including a “mono” diet and the herb maca but nothing works. I don’t have a whole lot of energy ever – kinda feel weak though I am actually quite strong. I drink about 20 ounces of juice everyday mixing carrot, beet and kale, sometimes dandelion in the spring if I have enough energy to go out into the yard and dig some up. Recently I was eating soaked oats in the morning but stopped because I heard the flakes are not completely raw. At lunch I eat either dried coconut or avocado, apples and some raw green peas. For dinner I had a salad with grated beet, carrot and kale and my dressing is based on walnuts, raw vinegar and a little soy sauce. Do you see any problem with my diet? Is it the soy sauce? — Justin
Dear Justin, The soy sauce is the least of your problems. Your diet is severely deficient in the proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for good health and hormone production. Very low cholesterol levels such as yours are associated with numerous health problems including autoimmune disorders, cancer, mental health problems and proneness to accidents. And you are significantly underweight for a man who is six feet tall. Raw food diets contain vital enzymes, but raw peas, kale and seaweed are loaded with antinutrients and toxins that interfere with health and are hard to digest. No fine tuning of this plan is likely to improve your libido. Your body is in starvation mode. No culture on earth has ever voluntarily lived on a live food vegan diet. Any that did would have died out. If you want to regain your health and keep your wife, I strongly urge you to get the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, read every word of it and start eating plenty of the health-and-hormone promoting foods she recommends.
Dear WAPF, I’m veg*n and think the only way you could say what you say is your group is connected with the meat and dairy industries or lobbyists. Please disclose your ties — Mathew
Dear Mathew, Internet rumors to the contrary, the Weston A Price Foundation has never received funding from the beef or dairy industries or any government agencies. And, in the unlikely event we were offered it, we would not accept it. Indeed, we have taken strong stances against factory farming and commercial agribusiness. FYI, the dairy and the soy industries are often one and the same — for ex, Dean Foods owns White Wave/Silk.