How environmentally friendly is soy?
Soy is used as a base for many plant-based products. For example, the protein sources tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans. And soy protein is the basis for many plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat. Many people are concerned about the impact of soy production on the earth and the global climate. Here you can read about the sustainability of soy!
Soy as an animal feed
In order to meet the current demand for soy, soy cultivation requires an area that is 14 times larger than the Netherlands. The vast majority of soy grown (no less than 90%) does not go to products such as meat and dairy substitutes but rather to the meat and dairy industry. Soy is used as animal feed, and quite a lot is needed for that. For example, for 100 grams of cheese, 20 grams of soy is needed. And for a 100 gram hamburger, about 45 grams of soy is required1.
This soy comes mostly from South America. This unfortunately involves problems such as water pollution and deforestation. Because animal products require so much plant-based feed, the environmental impact of animal products is much higher than that of plant-based products.
Sustainable soy cultivation
The majority of soy cultivation is therefore used as animal feed. But what about the other 10% that is used for human consumption? Many companies and organisations in the food industry aim to ensure that the soy cultivation for their products is as sustainable as possible. For example, there is the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), an international platform consisting of soy producers, the processing industry, and social organisations committed to sustainable soy cultivation.
Many Dutch companies such as Schouten, Garden Gourmet, and Vivera are members of this organisation. This ensures that soy cultivation for these products has not contributed to deforestation and that it meets high standards in terms of social welfare and working conditions.
European soybean cultivation
Growing soy in Europe has many advantages. It creates food security and independence. This also reduces CO₂ emissions from transport. Another major advantage is that, in this way, it can be ensured even better that no forests are cut down for soy cultivation. Dutch Soy grows fresh soy in the Netherlands. This fresh soy (edamame) is not processed in products but rather is eaten as a meal component or snack. Many meat substitute brands are also looking at opportunities for European soy and are already working with 100% deforestation-free soy.
European soy cultivation is still being developed and is currently not large enough to meet the demand for soy in Europe. However, companies such as Dutch Soy, Garden Gourmet, Schouten, SoFine, and Vivera are working to expand this. Together they aim to make soy cultivation even more sustainable!
Want to know more about soy?
Do you want to know more about soy, RTRS or do you have another question about vegetarian or vegan products? Contact us! We are happy to exchange ideas with you about innovative plant-based products.