The Truth About Fake Meat & Protein Bars (or: Should You Eat Soy Protein?)

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on June 4, 2013


A few weeks ago, I was chatting with the husband about protein bars.

Since he (and I) are vegetarian and since we are both super active, I’m always looking for healthy, veggie-friendly protein. Unfortunately, with all of the fake-meat-soy-products and soy-based protein bars out there – that’s often hard to come by.

This is because soy protein isolate has been used as a high protein source in many veggie-friendly products – which I tend to avoid eating (more on that later).

I was explaining all of this to the husband, and he pointed out that the information out there on soy in general is super confusing, as is knowing what types of nutrition bars or veggie-friendly protein products are healthy to eat.

And he’s right! I was confused about soy protein for the longest time (half the articles out there tout it as a superfood, and half of them vehemently disagree with eating soy), and it was only after I did lots of reading and research that I was able to come to a few conclusions of my own.

So here it is …

The Picky Eater’s Guide to Soy: What to Eat and What Not to Eat!

First, let’s look at unprocessed soy products like tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. as well as non-soy protein that people sometimes confuse as soy (seitan).


What are these products? 

  • Edamame are whole “young” soy beans – they are picked before the bean has hardened so you can eat them right from the pod.
  • Tofu is made from whole soy beans. It is the bean curd that is mashed into blocks (after coagulating soy milk).
  • Tempeh is made from fermented whole soy beans. The fermentation process binds the soy beans into a cake form.
  • Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt. It is used in Japanese cooking to make soups or sauces.
  • Soy Milk is produced by soaking dry soy beans and grinding them up with water.
  • Seitan isn’t soy at all! It’s actually a wheat protein made from wheat gluten.

Should you eat them? (you’ll see a theme here 🙂 )

  • Edamame: Eat only if it’s 100% organic and non-GMO
  • Tofu: Eat only if it’s 100% organic and non-GMO
  • Tempeh: Eat only if it’s 100% organic and non-GMO
  • Miso: Eat only if it’s 100% organic and non-GMO
  • Soy Milk: Eat only if it’s 100% organic, non-GMO, and if the only two ingredients on the label are Whole Organic Soy Beans and Water
  • Seitan: If it’s organic, 100% natural (no chemicals or other ingredients you can’t pronounce), and if you can tolerate gluten – it is fine to eat.

Why is it important to only eat organic soy?

Because over 90% of the soy in this country is genetically modified (GMO), unless it is organic. That means it’s more chemically altered, sprayed with toxic pesticides, and more processed compared to its organic relative.

The Bottom Line: Out of all of the unprocessed, whole soy products above – I’d recommend sticking to the fermented versions like tempeh and miso and enjoying the other soy products in moderation (more on why in the question below). And always choose 100% organic, non-GMO for any soy products you buy!


Now – onto the second question: What’s with the whole estrogenic-properties-of-soy thing? 

Soy contains phytochemicals called isoflavones (aka phytoestrogens). Phytoestrogens are natural plant hormones that mimic estrogen in our bodies. For some people, these estrogens may help balance their hormones, but they can also throw off the hormonal balance for other people. The jury is still out on whether phytoestrogens are beneficial or “superfood-like.”

Eating soy is NOT the same as taking estrogen by any means. But some people are more sensitive to phytoestrogens than others — which is why I try to only eat whole soy products in moderation (not more than once or twice a week max). And I probably wouldn’t use soy-based forumla for babies because who knows how those phytoestrogens affect little ones.

BUT fermented sources of soy (like miso, tempeh, and natto) are actually better than non-fermented sources. Fermentation increases the digestibility of soy, adds good bacteria, and reduces the plant estrogen content in soy foods.

Side note: People with low thyroid functioning need to limit their soy consumption since soy contains substances called goitrogens which can slow the production and/or release of thyroid hormones in the body.

The Bottom Line: Eat soy in moderation and choose fermented when possible!


Lastly – the big question: What’s the deal with soy protein isolate and all of the veggie-friendly protein bars/products?

If you take a look at the nutrition label of most protein bars, veggie burgers, or fake-meat products, you’ll see soy protein isolate featured as one of the main ingredients.


So what is soy protein isolate? 

Soy protein isolate (SPI) is basically the isolated protein component from the soy bean. Creating SPI requires a heavily chemically engineered process to “isolate” that protein: the end result of which is a denatured protein that is stripped of all the nutrients (fiber, minerals, complex carbs) that the original bean contained.

Additionally, to isolate the soy protein, the soy beans are soaked and sprayed with chemicals like aluminum and hexane – which often leaves behind residue that you don’t want to be eating. Hexane is a neurotoxic petrochemical solvent that is listed as a hazardous air pollutant with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The spray-drying method used for soy can also form nitrites – compounds that can form carcinogens in the body.

And if that’s not enough, SPI is always GMO and filled with pesticides.

Lastly, SPI has a higher concentration of trypsin inhibitors – which are chemicals that reduce trypsin (an enzyme that helps digest protein) in the body.

So SPI may have started out as a plant, but once it gets to you, it’s far from it. The products that use SPI also have the craziest list of ingredients and are super processed themselves (methylcellulose or disodium inosinate anyone?) – which is another reason to stay away from those products altogether. Remember if you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to be eating it.

Some tips about SPI – it can be “hidden” under other names like:

  • textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • soy protein concentrate
  • Soya, Soja or Yuba,
  • textured soy flour (TSF)
  • textured soy protein (TSP)

The Bottom Line: NEVER eat products containing soy protein isolate or any “terms” related to soy protein isolate in the list above. Read your ingredient lists carefully and stay away from products with long ingredient lists you can’t pronounce!

This can be hard because lots of popular brands: Clif Bars, LUNA Bars, MorningStar, etc. have SPI on their ingredients list. But there are many other products out there that don’t! You just have to be a little more diligent and read the labels (health food stores and Whole Foods definitely have other options). 


The Bottom Bottom Line: What to do if you’re vegetarian or want non-meat-protein sources?

#1 | Stick to natural, whole protein sources like beans, eggs, cottage cheese, Greek Yogurt, lentils, nuts, seeds and organic, non-GMO natural sources of soy like edamame, tempeh and tofu (free of sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other additives)

#2 | Try making veggie burgers at home or buy frozen veggie burgers that don’t have SPI like this kind from Amy’s

#3 | Stick to protein-bar brands that don’t use Soy Protein Isolate like Zing , LaraBar UBER, and CORE FoodsKIND is a good option as well, but read the labels carefully – some of their bars do have soy protein isolate in them! The KIND bars that don’t are a tasty and healthy snack.

#4 | If you like protein powder – try Amazing Meal or SunWarrior

That’s basically it!

In general shopping for healthy packaged food can be a challenge, but remember it’s all about reading the ingredients and knowing which ones to avoid. I hope this post helps you navigate the world of soy!

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Anu June 5, 2013 at 6:48 am

This was very thorough – Thanks.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2013 at 10:50 am

No problem at all! Glad it was helpful!


Jeannie June 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

Thank you for this post. I’ve been moving our family to a mostly vegetarian diet – fish sometimes during dinner and occassionally chicken. Your blog has helped me find new recipes that my family enjoys instead of whining about eating healthy. I recently picked up edamame and tofu but haven’t cooked them yet. I have seen a lot of people buy TVP and I’ve almost picked that up, assuming that it was a great meat substitute. I’m glad I follow your blog.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hi Jeannie! Aw yay! I’m so glad my blog has helped you to eat more healthy vegetarian meals! That’s wonderful 🙂 And I’m really happy this post was helpful to you as well!


Pooja June 5, 2013 at 9:33 am

This is one of the best articles I’ve read on Soy. Informative, clear, and helpful. Sincere thanks!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hooray!! Thanks Pooja – so happy to hear that!!


Komi June 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

You rock my world! Thank you for this! I’ve been telling Rupen for years that the veggie meat (Morningstar crumbles…) doesn’t agree with me — and I was guessing it because of the color and high sodium! Now I have your article to show him!!!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

Awwww thanks Komi!!! You know I had the same problems with veggie meat — that it didn’t agree with me as well — which is what started my search for answers actually 🙂 I’m sure the artificial additives and sodium don’t help, but it’s probably mostly because of the soy protein isolate. You’ll have to tell me what Rupen says when you show him this post! 🙂


Olga June 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

Very interesting read!
I actually had a spaghetti squash singapore noodles with tofu for lunch!! uh oh!
Thanks for the info! Easy to read and informative!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 5, 2013 at 10:52 am

Thanks Olga!! Oh and btw — tofu is totally fine in moderation – just try to get Organic / non-GMO if you can!! So no need for an uh-oh moment there 🙂 So glad this post was helpful!


Candice Goh June 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hi Anjali, I am a new reader of your blog. First and foremost, I can’t believe you are only in your twenties but already so knowledgeable about nutrition and healthy eating! I have just begun my quest for healthy eating and this post have given me a guide on what food I should look out for the next time I head to a supermarket. Thanks for sharing!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words Candice!! I’m so glad this post is helping you on your path to healthier eating 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions along the way, happy to help in any way I can!


Jo June 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

awesome post…what a coincidence….i and my husband have been talking about the same topic yesterday….ur post is exactly what we were looking for…thanks anjali….i love soy milk…with all the myths around soy..we reduced its consumption and taking it moderately these days, we usually buy organic soy milk, tofu, tempeh from Trader Joe’s though its organic i see some scary ingredients like carrageenan(heard its not good), salt added to it. but my question is i never came across soy milk with just 2 ingredients like u suggested……where do u buy such milk?Do u make it at home?
also can u please recommend best protein powder for vegetarians and also where to buy them?
i tried raw garden of life..its good but little chalky to taste….thanks a ton for the valuable info.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Thanks Jo!! I’m so happy this was helpful to you! So yes! You can find organic soy milk with only two ingredients. WestSoy has a wonderful soy milk — I think they sell it both at Whole Foods and at Trader Joe’s. It doesn’t have carrageenan in it either (which I also try to avoid). My favorite protein powders are Amazing Meal and SunWarrior (linked in the post above). I’d recommend blending them with a bit of almond butter, almond milk or soy milk or regular milk, berries, and even a little greens if you’re feeling adventurous! Hope that helps!


Nancy Weinflash June 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I was wondering if you could tell me if a product from India, Nutrela high protein soya chunks made by Ruchi is safe product for vegetarian (or anyone) to eat. Is there a way to find out if this product is non-GMO? I’m pretty sure it’s not organic. Thanks for your help with this.


Jo June 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

i now remember that i brought nutrela long back from an Indian store and just used it one time being skeptical about it :-))…


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hi Nancy! I’ve never used Nutrela Soya Chunks, and unfortunately I couldn’t find an ingredients list or any information on whether it’s GMO anywhere online. But just judging by the fact that there is “Soya” in the title, and “Soya” is another name for Soy Protein Isolate, I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, I’d recommend taking one of Amy’s veggie burgers ( and crumbling them up to imitate the soy protein chunks/crumbles!


Tom June 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

So do you think plain TVP is not very healthy? I use it occasionally with soy sauce to make a mock ground beef, but my world won’t be shattered if it turns out to not be the healthiest thing in the world. 😉


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hi Tom! I’m so sorry but TVP is basically soy protein isolate under a different name. :/ I’d recommend trying tempeh or super firm tofu crumbles instead – those should work well if you combine it with soy sauce and a bunch of other spices to mimic ground beef! Hope that helps!


natalia June 6, 2013 at 10:33 am

This is great, thanks!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thanks Natalia!


GG June 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I agree 100%. When I was going through menopause, I had a horrible time with heavy bleeding and did some reading and immediately cut out ANYTHING that mimicked estrogen. Noticed a difference almost immediately and managed to get through w/o hormone therapy, etc. I love quinoa which has a really good amount of protein. I won’t use TVP at all, but bulgur makes a wonderful veggie chile–it looks just like hamburger, too. Bottom line for me, the more processed anything is, the less I want to use it. Just ’cause it says “vegetarian” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. Keep reading those labels!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Completely agree GG! Oftentimes things are marked as “vegetarian” or “vegan” to imply that they’re healthy but they’re actually not! I read ingredient labels with so much scrutiny just to make sure I really know what I’m eating. Thanks for sharing your story and your tips! Love the idea of using bulgur to bulk up veggie dishes!


hottipsforyou June 7, 2013 at 2:05 am

Hi Anjali,
Thank you for your so details knowledgeble about tofu nutrition. I like to eat a lot of tofu. Next time I know what kind of tofu I should buy. Thanks for your hard work. Thank you for answer my last question.You are a really warm person. I like your working attitude.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Aw thank you so much for your kind words!! I’m so glad this post was helpful – and no problem at all – I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you might have in the future as well!


Betty June 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Thank you for all the info and the recipe. I cannot eat any soy due to the fact I have hypothyroidism and it effects it in the wrong way.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

That makes complete sense Betty – soy contains substances called goitrogens which can slow the production and/or release of thyroid hormones in the body, so if you have hypothyroidism you should definitely avoid it!


anjana June 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm


THanks for sharing this very informative piece about the soy family. I’ve been suffering from an allergy/autoimmune disorder fora few months now and have been on an elimination diet.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi Anjana! No problem at all – so glad it was helpful. An elimination diet is one of the best ways to diagnose an allergy. I wish you all the best and I hope you are able to figure out your disorder soon! Let me know if I can help in any way – sending healthy well wishes your way 🙂


Crystal @ Simply Playful Fare June 11, 2013 at 7:32 am

This is great! I’ve been wondering about all the conflicting news I’ve been hearing about soy. Thank you for the awesome information! I am now well informed to make good decisions about eating soy. 🙂


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm

So happy to hear that Crystal!! That was my goal in writing this post – to get through all of the conflicting information and figure out what the research said 🙂


corrinakuhar June 12, 2013 at 2:13 am

Great article, Anjali! Thank you for all the details. You must have put in a lot of research into this. Looking forward to reading more.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Thank you so much!! And yes – absolutely did a ton of research before writing this post – I wanted it to be as comprehensive and accurate as possible 🙂 Thanks again!


Will June 13, 2013 at 7:22 am

Much better if we it soybeans rather than to eat soy protein bars because we can’t assure, whether it is a fake or legit.. Well, good information Anjali. This is actually my first time to visit and read your blog post and I find it really useful


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Thank you for the kind words Will!! I’m so happy you found this post (and my blog) useful. And yes, absolutely – whole organic soybeans are much much better to eat than soy protein bars/shakes/processed foods.


Teresa June 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

Hi Anjali! Such a great article! I’m definitely introducing it to my community today! Thank you for taking the time to put together such comprehensive information on such a complicated topic!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Yay!! Thanks for sharing this post with your community Teresa!! I’m so glad you found this helpful!


Larry June 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Wow super comprehensive look at this. Some great facts you’ve presented, and definitely quite a few things to consider. Thanks for your time in putting this together 🙂


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

No problem at all Larry!! I really just wanted to make this topic as easy to understand and comprehensive as possible. Thanks again for your kind words!


Beth C. Kramer June 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Excellent blog about risks of soy isolates. As a health coach, I am often asked about the use of fake meats. I advise my clients to avoid processed foods, especially since most contain some soy derivative, usually GMO. Lots of people live on soy versions of burgers, chicken nuggets, and ribs. I am sharing your blog with my clients and including a link in my blog!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Thank you so much Beth!! I’m totally with you — so many people live on soy burgers/fake meat and it’s really important to know what goes into making those products! Thanks again for sharing my post and helping to spread the word 🙂


TK June 16, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Great information for me and recently turned vegetarian girlfriend!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

Yay!! So glad it was helpful to both of you! 🙂


Amanda @runtothefinish June 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

FABULOUS post!!!!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 29, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thank you so much Amanda!! 🙂


Litia July 1, 2013 at 7:02 am

You opened my eyes, BUT where did you find information that “the soy beans are soaked and sprayed with chemicals like aluminum and hexane” ?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

Hi Litia! There is actually research on how the soy protein is extracted from the soy bean – and that process includes spraying the beans with hexane. You can find one of the many research studies at (you can also do a search on Google Scholar and you’ll find more info on the topic), and studies were republished on multiple health food news sites like well+good NYC and slate magazine. Additionally, if you look at Amy’s Veggie Burgers’ website – they talk about how they use hexane free soy protein / hexane free vegetable protein – and why that’s important. Hope that helps!


Litia July 2, 2013 at 5:49 am

Ok, Interesting, thank you for reply 🙂


Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 2, 2013 at 8:01 am

No problem! 🙂


Jennifer July 15, 2013 at 9:35 am

A friend posted your article on Facebook and I was eager to read it as I’m a frequent consumer of Clif bars and Morningstar products. You definitely opened my eyes to the dangers lurking in “health” foods and I am very grateful to you for that. However, I’m writing this after finishing a KIND Bar (Penaut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein) because guess what I just noticed listed among its ingredients – – soy protein isolate. You might want to remove KIND from your suggestion list. Be well!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 16, 2013 at 8:54 am

Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for your thoughtful message and for the heads up! I’m glad this post was helpful to you. And you are right – some KIND bars do have soy protein isolate in them (so disappointing!) But many of them don’t and are still good alternatives. I will definitely update this post to make that much clearer 🙂 Thanks again!


Georgie Morley July 22, 2013 at 6:24 am

Thank you so much for this! I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 11 (I’m now 21) and I’ve always been so confused about soy. I’ve tried to stick with natural sources just because it made intuitive sense but this really clears it up for me.
I like the idea of just buying organic non-gmo soy. What is your favorite non-soy vegetarian protein?
Again thanks a million- I’ll definitely be sharing this!!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 24, 2013 at 7:28 am

No problem at all Georgie!! I’m so happy this post was helpful to you. And yes – I’m all about buying organic non-GMO whole soy products (and eating them in moderation). For non-soy veggie protein I rely a lot on lentils, beans, nuts, organic Greek yogurt and organic cottage cheese. Those are my favorites. If you’re looking for a non-soy protein “shake” — I like Amazing Meal and SunWarrior – they use rice, pea and hemp protein in their mixes which are all natural as well! Hope that helps!


Siddharth October 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hi Anjali, thanks a lot for this article, I’ve been doing some research on soya and this cleared up a lot of my doubts. I do have a question for you however. I am a regular gym rat and presently am on a cutting diet (high protein, low carbs). While I eat a lot of chicken breast and drink a lit of skimmed milk, I decided to try out soya as it’s cheap and the macros fit my diet plan.
The brand being sold where I live (NCR, India) is Nutrela High Protein Soya Mini Chunks. It has only 1 listed ingredient- 100% Soya (Defatted). And in the nutritional information chart is the shocker- 52gm protein for every 100gm. Is that even possible, given that 100gm chicken breast has less than half of that protein content? And more importantly, is it okay for me to work this into my diet, about 100-150 gm a day? (I need about 230gm protein a day, and struggling to hit that number).
Thanks in advance for your reply, it would really help me out. And a google search on this product will draw up whatever extra info you need. Thanks again.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

Hi Siddharth! Thanks so much for reaching out and for your question! I’m going to try to answer it as best I can, given I’ve never seen this product before (I think it’s only sold in India and online), and I’ve never tried it either. I did do a Google Search for the product and the nutritional information I found was the same as you: 52g protein for 100g of the product. I think this is possible because 1 cup is 45g, and I think having about 21g protein for 1 whole cup of the Soy Chunks is reasonable. But what I couldn’t find any conclusive information about is how these soy chunks are made. E.g. are they made from 100% non-GMO soybeans and are similar to tofu? Or are they made with soy protein isolate, in which case I wouldn’t recommend them? That’s a question, unfortunately, that I don’t have an answer to. I’m not sure how food labeling works in India and what has to be disclosed vs. not. In general, I probably wouldn’t eat THAT much soy every single day regardless of whether it was organic/non-GMO/whole soybeans. I’d recommend incorporating other protein sources (like lean meat, beans, lentils, yogurt, etc.) since they are likely to be less processed than most packaged soy products. I hope that helps, sorry I couldn’t find more conclusive information about this product in particular! Let me know if you have any other questions in the meantime. Thanks again!


Siddharth October 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for the prompt reply. On the occasion of not eating ‘THAT much’, how much is too much? Just to give you some context, my other protein sources are lean chicken breast (300gm), oats (150gm), skimmed milk (1500gm), eggs (3). These numbers might seem a bit high to you but they are normal in gym circles. I am also 6’2” and weigh in at 220lbs, at 26 years of age.

Also, why would you not recommend that quantity? I have done my research- soy is a very debated topic in I am aware of the thyroid problems and the “phyto-estrogens limiting testosterone” theory- 2 accusations that have been endlessly debated over there for years but not settled till date. Wondering if any of those things have anything to do with your suggestion, or is it something else?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hi Siddharth! Regarding the bodybuilding diet, to be honest I don’t really have expertise in this since it’s a pretty specific type of diet. I do understand that you need to eat more (food and protein) than the average person but I can’t really advise you on how much – I’d recommend talking to your doctor about this. About soy specifically, yes, the reasons I wouldn’t recommend eating that much are for all of the reasons I listed in the article — you don’t know which soy is GMO if it’s not labeled, soy protein isolate should absolutely be avoided, and the jury is still out on the estrogenic effects of soy. It seems that soy is fine in moderation, but that’s the key. In general, other than veggies & some fruits, I try to eat everything in moderation. As far as how much soy I’d eat weekly — I’d stick to only organic non-GMO tempeh and tofu (since they are whole food soy products) – about 1-2 servings (1 serving is 1/2 cup = 45g) once a week. I hope that helps!


Sourav Ray November 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Can you please tell me the name of tofu in india. Here no shops can identify what tofu is.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Hi Sourav! Hmm – I haven’t been to India in a long time (and haven’t looked for tofu in the market there) so I can’t be 100% sure. But here are some options to try: “bean curd” or “paneer made of soy/soya milk.” Hope that helps!


Kyle January 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

Lots of great information in here. Thank you for thinking of and recommending Amazing Grass® as a good protein source for vegan, vegetarian and soy-free individuals! We’re also running a promotion now called Fresh Start: Two Week Challenge focusing on our Amazing Meal®s. Feel free to check out our program that offers daily videos, daily recipes, shopping lists and expert advice: . You can see all the updates on our facebook page as well: .


Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I absolutely love your products! Thanks for sharing the additional info about your program and updates 🙂


Muriah April 25, 2014 at 4:36 am

This is a great article! All the things I struggle to verbalize when I explain to friends the food choices I make. It’s nice to know some more concrete reasons for avoiding “fake meat”- I’ve always just felt like I would rather eat food that isn’t pretending!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 25, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Thank you so much Muriah! I’m so glad this was helpful! And yes I’m with you — I much prefer whole (real) foods vs. fake meat which is just too processed for me!


Praveen April 28, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Thanks, quite informative,I am vegetarian and concerned about the chemicals used in the processed soy products. I do not eatsoy fish cos it’s too close to the original ! Shall stick to natural veg protein sources!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

Hi Praveen! Thanks I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Natural vegetarian protein sources like beans, dairy, etc. are the best!


Greg May 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Excellent information and very timely. I just recently arrived at the understanding of soy isolates you conveyed well here. Thanks for both confirming and anchoring it deeply in my mind. Salut – Greg PS I just recently purchased some Kind nut bars so interesting you should make mention of those too.


Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Thanks Greg! I’m so glad you found this post helpful!


Evelyn May 25, 2014 at 6:18 am

Thanks for the information. I have a question. How long after you have stop consuming the soy isolate that it’s no longer in you system?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 26, 2014 at 6:25 am

Hi Evelyn! Good question. Soy protein isolate, like any other food, will leave your system as soon as it’s digested and released from the body (about 24 hours). Hope that helps!


Komal Bangia September 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm


I am referring back to this post from a while back because I have a question on textured soy protein. What if it is organic? Is it okay to eat? I’m actually asking about this product here:

Can you let me know what you think?



Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Hi Komal! In general, I would stay away from isolated soy protein or textured soy protein – because it’s unclear whether the process for extracting the soy protein (even in organic products) is toxic or not. Also – the product you linked likely has a bunch of other preservatives and additives in it that are probably also best avoided. Hope that helps!


James January 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

Hi Anjali! Glad i ran accross this article, and a very good one at that! I’ve been eating the Kashi Go Lean cereal every morning for several years for the amount of souable fiber in it. Souable fiber is suppose to be great for lowering colesterol, but now I am concerened about the amount of soy protein in this cereal. What are your thoughts? Thanks!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Hi James! Thanks so much for your question! It’s true: soluble fiber is great for you and does help lower cholesterol. But the Kashi Go Lean cereal does have soy protein isolate in it (that’s how they achieve the high amount of protein in the cereal) – and because of that I’d avoid it. If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast with a lot of soluble fiber – just eat plain oatmeal! Steel cut or rolled oats – either is great. Hope that helps!


pushp deep rungta September 10, 2015 at 3:14 am

Hey what about soya chunks?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 16, 2015 at 5:14 am

It depends on the brand, but in general as far as I know, soya chunks are made with soy protein isolate, so I’d avoid those if possible. Hope that helps!


Pushp Deep Rungta September 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

The pack says made of 100% defatted soya. Which when i searched shows that it is simply soya out of which oil has been removed.
(The nutrela brand)


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 16, 2015 at 8:35 am

Hi! If “soya” is the same as whole, organic soybeans, then I’d say that it is ok to eat. I’m not familiar with the Nutrela brand so I can’t be sure – but you can call them and ask them what “soya” is!


Pushp Deep Rungta September 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

Also i wanted to know how much quantity of soya should i consume on a daily basis and why or why not?


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm

I’d recommend organic whole soy beans in moderation — no more than a few times a week. This is mainly because I haven’t seen any good/definitive research on the (positive or negative) effects of consuming a lot of soy – so it’s unclear whether it’s harmful to eat too much soy. Hope that helps!


Pushp Deep Rungta September 16, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Thank you so much Anjali! Really helps!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

No problem, glad to hear it!


Pushp Deep Rungta September 16, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Hey i found this article as well quite in line with your’s, thank you so much


Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

Sure no problem!


Amy September 24, 2015 at 11:57 am

What if the a bar with Soy Protein Isolate is labeled as NON-GMO soy? Is it okay then? I’m low carb and AIP Paleo and trying to find a bar that I can eat is next to impossible and I am too tired to fix anything.



Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 27, 2015 at 6:51 am

Hi Amy! So non-GMO or organic soy protein isolate is definitely better than the non-organic/GMO version, but the issue is also with the isolated soy protein — in that, it’s such a heavy concentration of soy protein and I’m not sure what the organic extraction methods are for it, so I would still avoid it if you can. That being said, there are bars out there that are paleo specific and low carb (made with egg white protein), and there are bars that are made with whey or casein protein which I think are also paleo-friendly. So I’d keep an eye out for those bars instead! If you can’t find them at your grocery store, you can definitely find them online. Hope that helps!


aman January 3, 2016 at 6:02 pm

What abouy soy chunks


Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 6, 2016 at 11:47 am

Soy Chunks are usually made with soy protein isolate — so I wouldn’t recommend those. Instead, I’d just use organic tofu or organic tempeh. Hope that helps!


Aashii March 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

Hi .I wana know soya chunks which is available in market with a nutrella packet name .Are healthy or not ??


Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 7, 2016 at 6:34 am

Hi Aashii! Thanks for asking! I think these specific soy chunks are only sold in India, and I haven’t been able to find any nutritional information for them. So it’s hard for me to know what they are made of. My guess is, they are not organic, and are probably made with soy protein isolate like pretty much all “soy chunks” types of products are. So I would avoid them if possible! Hope that helps!


Pope August 11, 2016 at 11:55 am

Hi Anjali, what is your opinion about soya chunks i.e. mock meat eaten by indians. I am almost 80% vegetarian now however, I would like to taste some meat in my food every other month or so. Hence, I am exploring mock meat as a substitute to make Indian curries & stuff. The problem is, most indian brands of soya meat do not state if they are made from GMO soy. And, is soya chuck a SPI ?

Thanks to reply 🙂


Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 15, 2016 at 8:26 am

Hi Pope! Thanks so much for reaching out! In general, I don’t recommend soya chunks. They are often made with GMO, non-organic ingredients, and are usually filled with a lot of preservatives and artificial flavoring to make them seem more like meat. Instead I’d recommend using whole organic tofu, tempeh or seitan. I’m not sure what SPI stands for – so if you can clarify that I can let you know! Hope that helps, thanks!


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