Many vegans hear about how eating tofu is just as bad for the environment as eating meat because of the vast amount of resources needed to produce soy. Unfortunately, this is partially true. Rainforests are often clear-cut to create farmland for agricultural products, including soy. This destruction of forestry leads to increased CO2 levels across the globe because the rainforests play a large role in transforming CO2 into oxygen. The CO2 production is accurate, but the effect of soy cultivation is not comparable to raising livestock for meat production. Raising livestock for meat consumption has a much greater and wider-reaching effect on the environment.
Rainforest Destruction And Animal Feed Production
The demand for soy products in the US has been enormous. According to Statista, roughly 3.56 billion bushels of soybeans were produced in the US in 2019. Around 31.86 million metric tons of soybeans were exported to China that year, which is a whole lot of beans! But when it comes to soy, almost everything is processed into animal feed. According to a study by the University of Illinois, 98% of the soy grown worldwide ends up in animal stomachs.
In addition to the problem of rain forest clearing, there are now hardly any soybean strains that have not gone under genetic modification. In Brazil, for example, more than three-quarters of the soybeans produced are genetically modified.
Say NO to GMO in Soy Products
That being said, the growing trend towards “eco” friendly produce and products has had its own set of advantages. Manufacturers in the US have become more aware of how an increasing number of consumers view genetically modified soybeans. Even if you are someone who doesn’t eat meat, you still pay careful attention to what goes into your diet. Organic soy foods have experienced one of the fastest-growing trends of all consumer food segments in the last ten years. This phenomenon is largely driven by the fact that soymilk and meat substitutes have made substantial improvements in versatility towards a broader consumer market while also being recognized for their health attributes.
But Which Is More Damaging To The Climate?
Those who maintain a meat-centered diet still affect the environment more. Even if your tofu is made from soybeans that come from a plantation in South America, about two kilos of tofu can still be obtained from just one kilo of soybeans. That same amount of soy used as concentrated feed for fattening pigs would only provide 300 grams of meat. A live animal like a pig exerts energy and must be fed continuously as it grows and likely eats resources outside of soy products as well. With this in mind, eating meat is still considered a lot worse for the environment on many levels. You can find more detailed information about that topic on our other blog article, “Let’s Save The Planet.”
It’s crucial for those who like to eat soy products to take a closer look at where their products come from and ensure that they are made from non-genetically modified soybeans.
With that in mind, it is pretty easy to make tofu on your own. We recently made our own tofu by hand and found the process deeply fulfilling and worth the extra effort. The taste and texture you get is much better than store-bought tofu, and the best part is – you know exactly what is in it! Soybeans, lemon, and water, that’s it!
Tofu, Do It Yourself!
What you need:
- 100 grams (0.2lbs) of soybeans
- Lemon juice or vinegar
- Measuring cup
- Mesh Bag or cloth
- Fine strainer
1) Soak the soybeans
Soak the soybeans in water overnight. The water should completely cover the beans. It takes around eight to ten hours for the beans to absorb the water. After they’ve finished soaking, you can pour out the rest of the water.
2) Blend and cook the soybeans
Add 350 milliliters (12oz) of water to the soaked soybeans and blend the whole mixture until a mushy liquid is formed. Cook the mix in a pot for around 10 minutes on high heat.
3) Filter the soybeans
After the soy liquid has cooled down, put a mesh bag or cheesecloth into a strainer and place it over a bowl. Next, pour the soy liquid over the strainer and allow it to drain into the bowl. You can then wring the cloth over the bowl to remove excess fluid. The filtered liquid is now your soy milk! The excess solids are called okara, or soy pulp. Now you can begin processing the tofu.
4) Mix the soy milk with lemon juice or vinegar
Add 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to the soy milk. The soy milk will curdle immediately as the protein separates from the whey. The acid flocculates the soy milk. Let the milk stand for about ten minutes so that the acid mixes evenly throughout; stirring is not necessary. In case the soy milk is not correctly flocculated, add a little bit more of the lemon juice or vinegar. No worries, you won’t taste it afterward.
5) Filter the tofu mass
Place a cotton cloth or cheesecloth over a fine strainer. Place the strainer with the cloth on top of a bowl. Tilt the soy, lemon, vinegar mixture through the cotton cloth so that the whey is separated. Let the mixture drain well. You can give it a helping hand by pulling the ends of the cloth together and gently squeezing the liquid out from top to bottom. But be careful and don’t press too hard. We want to ensure the mixture does not squeeze out of the cloth. At this point, you should have a paste or mushy mass of tofu left on your cloth that you can season as you like.
6) Press the tofu mass and enjoy
Place some weight on top of your tofu mass to help shape and press it into a more compact form. You can do this for up to an hour. After pressing, your tofu is ready for cooking. Enjoy!