Soy Milk Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
soy milk benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: soy milk is good for / helps prevent age-related memory loss or decline in thinking skills, treat hot flashes and other unpleasant symptoms that accompany menopause

Longevity: soy milk is good for / helps bone health, detoxification, improve cholesterol levels, heart health, possibly reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease

Appearance: soy milk is good for / helps weight loss

Soy milk is…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: moderate, it takes 3,763 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soy milk / 451 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soy milk

Carbon footprint: low, 0.69 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed soy milk, a car driving equivalent of 1.75 miles or 2.75 kilometers

Destruction: low, the two top producing soya producing countries are the US and Brazil, together they produce about 64% of the world’s supply, soya is Brazil’s biggest export by value, there are serious concerns about how much of it is behind deforestation in the Amazon and surrounding regions, however most of the world’s soya is fed to livestock, only 6% of it is eaten directly by humans, eating soy is better for the environment than animal products, soya may also be on Amazon land previously deforested for cattle, soy production is often monocropping, which causes soil structure and quality to be so poor farmers must use chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth / fruit production, pesticides / fertilizers contaminate ground water and become airborne, creating pollution, monocropping is not an issue if the product is organic, best to buy soy sustainably grown and not products of Brazil

Soy milk is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, soy milk production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, soy milk production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from soy milk production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Soy milk is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Soy milk…

Where does most soy milk come from?

The world’s top soy milk exporting country is Switzerland, followed by Germany, USA, Denmark, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, China and Thailand. Worldwide, the United States produces the most soy followed by Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Paraguay, Canada and Ukraine. In the United States Iowa reported the largest number of acres planted to certified organic soybeans followed by Minnesota and Michigan. 98% percent of soybean meal is for animal feed (poultry, hogs and cattle mostly) and only 1% is to produce food for people. Around 70% of soybeans in the United States are for animal feed, poultry being the number one livestock sector consuming soybeans, followed by hogs, dairy, beef and aquaculture.

Is soy milk nutritious?

Yes, soy milk is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and often contains added calcium.

soy milk is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is soy milk alkaline or acidic? Soy milk is acidic once digested. What is the pH level of soy milk? Soy milk has a 6.0 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

soy milk is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is soy milk gluten free? Yes, soy milk is gluten free. Soy milk does not contain gluten when unflavored. Soy milk is a type of plant based milk made from soybeans, a type of legume, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

soy milk contains a common food allergen: soy.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is soy milk a common food allergen? Yes, soy milk contains a common food allergen: soy. Many people may experience allergic reactions to soy milk.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

soy milk has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does soy milk have a high or low water footprint? Soy milk has a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of soy milk? It takes 3,763 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soy milk / 451 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soy milk.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

soy milk has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does soy milk have a high or low carbon footprint? Soy milk has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of soy milk? It takes around 0.69 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cabbage, a car driving equivalent of 1.75 miles or 2.75 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

soy milk is sustainable (unless soy is from Brazil).

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is soy milk eco friendly? Is soy milk sustainable?

Soy milk production is relatively sustainable unless soy is from Brazil.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

soy milk is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is soy milk vegan? Yes, pure soy milk is vegan. Soy milk is made from soybeans, legumes, and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

soy milk may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is soy milk a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are no major concerns with soy production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Soy milk – FoodData Central

Harvard School of Public Health: Straight talk about soy

Soy | Food and Nutrition Information Center | NAL | USDA

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.