The Explosive Truth About Veggie Burgers

soy protein, petrochemicals, veggie burgers, baby formulaThere are several compelling reasons to re-think veggie burgers and other non organic soy-based products.

If there is anything to be learned from America’s industrial food machine (in case you missed Food Inc. and other seminal critiques), it is this: nothing can be trusted. Until recently, many vegetarians have been all too happy to jump on the veggie burger bandwagon for a yummy protein fix, believing in earnest that theirs was a healthy choice that benefits the environment. Including me.

But a recent report published by the non-profit organization Cornucopia Institute reveals that most non-organic soybean-based goods produced in the United States are bathed in a highly explosive mix of petrochemicals that are used to extract the soy protein. And hardly anybody seems concerned to address what could be a public health nightmare.

Before petrochemicals

In the 1950s, the United States abandoned the former practice of extracting soy protein mechanically (using pressure) in favor of a newer, more aggressive method. Now, soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and textured soy protein are all soaked in chemicals that separate out soy oil from what E Magazine calls “defatted soy flour” that is then processed even further.

These chemical baths typically consist of  50-60% n-hexane, a heavy industrial solvent and degreaser, along with a remaining mixture of cyclohexane, methycyclohexane and methypentanes – none of which sound especially delicious.

A gulp of Hexane

The European Union only permits the sale of soy products that have less than 10 parts per million hexane residue, but the United States has no such restriction. Nor is it necessary for producers in the US to test whether their products contain traces of harmful petrochemicals. As a result, it is unknown to what extent consumers are being exposed to them.

Cornucopia recently set out to get an idea. They submitted soy samples to an independent lab, which discovered soy protein containing 22 and 14 parts per million hexane each. But studies demonstrating their carcinogenic properties or the consequence of oral exposure, according to E, are still lacking.

The Seedy Side of Soy

But here is what we do know: higher than usual numbers of brain tumors have been reported in people who work in the protein-extracting industry.

Highly explosive and responsible for killing plant workers and drivers who transport it, hexane is also linked to polyneurophathy (muscle weakness, nerve damage) and global warming. E magazine suggests that in 2009, soy and grain production using hexane, which is an air pollutant, issued 19 million tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere.

Adults might take their chances and eat soy-based foods such as fitness bars, tofu, soy milk, and soy cheese, but for babies, the prospect is particularly insidious. Enfamil, Similac, and Nestle all rely on hexane to extract protein from soy products, while Vermont Organics, Earth Best, and Baby’s Only in the United States offer much more wholesome alternatives.

Why do companies insist upon bathing food products in neurotixins (and why is the American government reluctant to enforce better controls?) Money. Extracting protein from soy chemically is more efficient than doing the same using mechanical pressure, and it’s cheaper.

Unless you’re eating USDA-certified organic veggie burgers and tofurkey, which ensures that no chemicals have been used, we definitely recommend our readers consider a safer method of obtaining protein.

:: E Magazine

More Weird and Harmful Food Stories:

Meat Glue: The Meat Industry’s Dirty Secret

McNuggets: Macabre

Meat Glue: It’s Everywhere but We Don’t Know it

image via functoruser

Facebook Comments

Comments

comments

10 thoughts on “The Explosive Truth About Veggie Burgers”

  1. Jilly·Jia says:

    Those who give advice to avoid soy. Your advice is without merit and is trumped by thousands of studies to the contrary. Eat and enjoy soy. It is full of calcium, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Plant estrogen is good for you and fights aging and hormonal imbalance. It is a great source of fully digestible protein without the saturated fat and cholesterol. Have you ever wondered why girls are experiencing puberty at a much younger age and some 12 year olds look 18? Look to the huge amounts of steroids, and other chemicals that are put in meat. As if there isn’t enough other reasons to avoid meat, the list gets longer and longer and the meat and dairy industry are fighting back with misleading propaganda to discourage alternatives. They use the same tactics as the tobacco industry used. They fund their own studies and then mislead people into thinking the results are factual.

    1. We’re not advising against soy, just soy that is washed in chemical baths. These sources say that as long as people are buying organic soy, then yes, the benefits you mention are there. But most of the soy products that people buy are not healthy.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Loads of people are soy-intolerant…and there are some forms of cancer that respond in awful ways (even when in remission) to soy products. Why? The oncologist who deals with those cases will tell you the same thing as the writer above mentioned–the plant estrogens in soy are, to the body, the same as regular estrogen. And when you have estrogen-sensitive cancer…it’s a no-go.

    As to soy products having a long history of consumption, sure they do–as edamame or similar, and soy sauce. Not as mechanically-extracted or chemically-extracted components of soybeans.

    This is hardly a pro-meat article. It’s simply stating an alarming yet not that surprising fact–unless it’s organic, or has only a few ingredients, every time you buy processed foods…you might be taking your health into your own hands. Notice I say might. And that’s not to say all organic products are good for you–just that certified organic products at least were made w/o chemicals or hormones. It’s not the meat that sill kill you, anyway–it’s quantity. Being vegetarian does not automatically make you healthier–I’ve known some very overweight vegetarians in bad shape.

    Oh–and I used to be a vegetarian. It’s a fine lifestyle choice, if you’re careful to get all your nutrients…but I can say the same thing about being an omnivore. *shrug* I’m one of those people whose body barely tolerates soy. So don’t make assumptions, Brit. 🙂

  3. Brit says:

    Those who give advice to avoid soy. Your advice is without merit and is trumped by thousands of studies to the contrary. Eat and enjoy soy. It is full of calcium, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Plant estrogen is good for you and fights aging and hormonal imbalance. It is a great source of fully digestible protein without the saturated fat and cholesterol. Have you ever wondered why girls are experiencing puberty at a much younger age and some 12 year olds look 18? Look to the huge amounts of steroids, and other chemicals that are put in meat. As if there isn’t enough other reasons to avoid meat, the list gets longer and longer and the meat and dairy industry are fighting back with misleading propaganda to discourage alternatives. They use the same tactics as the tobacco industry used. They fund their own studies and then mislead people into thinking the results are factual.

  4. Brit says:

    This is an article that is based in fear and scare largely, but caution should always be taken when dealing with “processed” food. Always best to make things from scratch instead of depending on preprepared things. Eating meat is far far far worse when taken in account the saturated fat, cholesterol, bacteria both in the meat and what it breeds as it passes through a long digestive tract that isn’t designed for meat consumption “human”, as well as the fact that anything dead is just plain dirty and unsanitary to eat unless you pride yourself at eating like a dog, or cat. Soy products are extremely great for you and has been consumed for thousands of years to get far better quality and more digestible protein with the health hazards of meat. The number one cause of cancer and heart disease is meat and that has been proven over and over. Articles like this are promoted by the meat industry as people become more educated about health and diet and they are losing profit.

  5. Thanks Thomas. This is Tafline, writing from the editor’s account. Can you say how estrogen and soy are related?

  6. Wow – this really curdles my organic milk big time.

  7. Thomas Ogren says:

    This is a good article, and besides the health dangers of n-hexane, cyclohexane, methycyclohexane and methypentanes ….besides all that, and more….I don’t use any kind of soy product any longer, or recommend soy to anyone, because it is so estrogenic. (I am a health writer & researcher myself; please do Google me.)
    Agriculture uses different forms of estrogen hormones to make cows give more milk, to make steers get fatter faster, to make broiler chickens gain weight and grow larger breasts. This agricultural estrogen is now everywhere, in the food, the air, the water, the soil. Additionally we now get xano-estrogens from plastics, fungicides and pesticides. We are being bombarded with estrogen.
    Excess estrogen (and the resulting process of aromatase) is already driving many negative things…including male pattern baldness, prostate cancer, obesity, not to mention male fish growing ovaries and other similar nasty things.
    My advice…give up the soy.

  8. Malenita says:

    In the USA, non-organic soy is also likely genetically modified.

  9. Miriam Kresh says:

    Thanks for posting this, Tafline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twelve − 1 =