Soy — why? just why?

Alright fine. You people finally did it. I’ve been hearing people order “soy chai lattes” or “soy low-cal mochas” for years. I’ve been asked too many times to talk about soy — I will go insane if I hear someone ask me one more time about soy milk. So here I am at a coffee shop with a soy latte in front of me as I write. I’m pretty sure it hates me just by the way it’s looking at me. I can’t really blame it since I already hate it just by default. What do you people have against cows? Does your insane diet really not allow skim milk? Is it too much to ask for milk to be milk and not something that has been processed to resemble it? Almond, rice, soy even hemp — these are not things that should be associated with the word milk, and yet they are. At least lactose intolerant and vegan people have a legitimate reason for them, but clearly the market is much larger. I swear it’s some kind of government conspiracy to create a low-calorie way to hide mind control drugs. Anyways I hope you’re happy, because I’m about to take the first sip of my first coffee mixed with soy milk.

Well I’m not sure what to say … other than what have I been doing with my life? It’s like I can feel Mother Earth softly whispering in my ear that I have finally unlocked her secrets. I mean it doesn’t taste all that great, but it’s a small price to pay for living so much longer. It’s crappy coffee but who cares when it’s this healthy after all. Others might be enjoying the milk in their coffee now, but we’ll see how they feel when their lifestyles catch up with them. This is why the world hates America. We’re just so ignorant. Except for the privileged few of course. And I can tell you right now, as I drink this soy latte I can feel the privilege flowing through me. I wonder how long lactose-intolerant people have known about this? I now have so much more respect for them. Well in honor of this new found lactose-free knowledge let’s delve into a brief history of this non-milk milk.

Soy milk originates from China, where it has long been used as a traditional beverage. It is most often sweetened or salted in China and is used either as a stand alone drink or as a base for soups.

Of course the Chinese weren’t using soy milk to it’s full potential until some genius stateside discovered it and marketed the heck out of it during the health food craze that started in the early 1990s and continues to this day. This must’ve been a bizarre coincidence, since soy milk had in fact existed in North America since the late 19th century.

Soy milk itself is made by grinding up dried soybeans and combining with water. Nutritionally soy milk is actually very similar to cow’s milk. The amount of fat, calories and protein are close to that of low-fat milk. In fact, when you compare 100 g of soy milk to 100 g of 1 percent cows milk, soy has a mere 12 more calories, only .8 grams more fat and just 0.1 less grams of protein. This means that lactose intolerant people can have a close, suitable proxy to milk, and a bunch of other people can jump on the healthy train too! Also, if you can’t quite handle the taste of plain soy milk, you can buy a myriad of flavored varieties. The processing to achieve these flavors does sacrifice some of the nutritional value and adds carbohydrates, sugars and fats, but I’m sure it’s still much healthier than cow’s milk.

Don’t like the soy/too many people have heard of it? Well you have options. There’s also rice milk and almond milk. Rice milk is made from finely milled rice that is combined with water. It twice as many carbohydrates as cow’s milk and has almost no nutritional value, but that’s alright since it is artificially fortified by most companies.

Not liking the sound of that? Then try almond milk — made from finely ground almonds combined with water. This substitute has less saturated fat and fewer carbohydrates but also very little protein.

Still not happy? Just wait a couple of years — I’m sure the next great thing will come along. Maybe we can somehow combine them to create a balanced, nutritious drink that resembles milk.

Even though these products were created with the intention of providing the lactose-intolerant (33% of Americans according to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse) and vegan (3% of Americans according to a 2013 Vegetarian Research Group poll) populations with an approximate milk substitute doesn’t mean you can’t hop on the bandwagon too. After all, we as Americans have clearly shown we can’t control our intake of foods, so why moderate our normal diets when we can just eat copious amounts of “healthier” things?

The next time you see someone who is lactose intolerant, be sure to thank them for showing you the way. Next time you buy some coffee, be sure not to use normal milk, because I told you so. Oh and add some caramel to that latte because you earned it! Now if you’ll excuse me I have a bowl full of raw kale and acai berries to devor.