Soy Milk: Dairy’s Natural Competitor
Soy milk is a Chinese tradition, and homemade soy milk is processed by straining soaked soybeans through water. The remaining fluid is the ‘milk’, and today’s processing techniques are completed with machines. To improve the flavor and texture, companies today have added oils, sugars, and stabilizers to make a soy drink, not necessarily the traditional soy milk.
Using soybeans for the mass production of soy milk also limits the environmental impact and may have ecological advantages. Cultivation of soybeans can help developing world countries that have limited opportunities in cow, rice, or other vegetable cultivation. It may open doors for more varieties and reduce ecological damage to fertile soil in the long term. Organic farmers will benefit greatly from the demand in soy-based products over the next few years.
Plain soy milk has a high nutrition value, with a high protein content, B-vitamins, lecithin, and vitamin E. It contains natural-occurring isoflavanes that may lead to reduced cardiovascular disease and improved bone health. Many brands are fortified with calcium, which increases its attractiveness over regular milk. Since soy milk is lactose-free, it is a good alternative for those with allergies or lactose intolerant. Many soy drinks, however, are sweetened versions of the milk, so do check the nutrition facts to make sure these are as natural as possible.
Although soy milk can be made at home, the varieties and options available at the grocery store and organic outlets are many. Soy milk brands are growing steadily, and more grocery stores are offering varieties and options than ever before. Soy milk is no longer an organic-only shopping product, and is gaining enough popularity and consumer interest to include soy-based yogurt, cheese, and other traditional ‘dairy’ products.
Soy Milk Brand Highlights
Silk Soy is a national brand that has advertised its benefits heavily; it is available in a variety of flavors, and encourages the heart-healthy diet. Other leading brands include: ,Eden Foods, 8th Continent, Nutrisoya, Revival Soy, Soya World, Imagine Foods, and Vitasoy.
Silk: Probably the most heavily publicly-advertised brand, Silk Soymilk offers a variety of dirnks and flavors including light and fat free versions, Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, and even a Silk Nog flavor for the holidays! Silk also the Starbucks soy milk of choice, offered at almost all locations.
Nutrisoya Foods: a Canadian brand that offers soy and rice beverages made with only organic soybeans
8th Continent: this brand is owned by General Mills and Dupotn, and offers a variety of lavors and refreshing uice blends. Flavors range form light and fat-free varieties in flavors of original, vanilla, and chocolate, as well as refreshing blends in Strawberry Banana, and Orange Pineapple Banana flavors.
Vitasoy: This Hong-Kong based company provides a variety of soymilk drinks, usually avaialbe int eh cold dirnk section of most supermarkets.
Imagine Foods: Imagine Foods is the maker of the Soy Dream brand, offering soy milk in original, vanilla, and chocolate flavors in the signature cartons.