Soy lecithin is a common ingredient in many processed foods. As one of the most widely used food additives on the market today, no doubt you are already consuming it, intentionally or unintentionally. And because of its high nutrient content, some people use it as a supplement.
If you’re vegan, you’re probably concerned about the ingredients in soy lecithin. Soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin are the two most common lecithins encountered by vegans. Both, as the names suggest, come from plants (soy and sunflowers). However, just because a product is primarily plant-derived does not mean it is vegan.
Then the question becomes: is soy lecithin vegan? That’s what we’re discussing in this article about how soy lecithin is made and whether you should include it in your vegan diet.
What is Soy Lecithin?
Lecithin is a food additive derived from several sources, including soy. When added to food, it is often used as an emulsifier or lubricant, but it also serves as an antioxidant and flavor preserver. Dietary supplements, ice cream, dairy products, powdered milk, bread, margarine and other processed foods contain soy lecithin.
What is soy lecithin made of?
The most controversial part among vegans is usually “what is soy lecithin made of”. Lecithin occurs naturally in many foods, lecithin supplements are usually derived from eggs, soy or sunflower seeds. Lecithin is also obtained from rapeseed, cottonseed or animal fats.
Soy is a cost-effective source of lecithin. Chemicals, including acetone and hexane, are used to extract lecithin from soybean oil.
Also read: Is Canola Oil Vegan?
Important things vegans should consider before taking soy lecithin
When people choose to live vegan, they have to follow some rules. Some adhere to strict veganism and do not support companies that exploit animals in any way, while others simply look at the ingredient list to determine whether a product is vegan friendly or not.
So there are some concerns that vegans should consider before deciding whether or not to change their vegan lifestyle.
1. Health Risks
In terms of protecting animals and providing numerous health benefits, soy lecithin has some potential risks that vegans concerned about their health should be aware of. Among these are the following:
- Diseases and Nutrient Deficiencies: Most of today’s soy comes from genetically modified (GMO) crops. During the production process of GMOs, allergens, toxins and carcinogens are produced. This one Toxins can have a number of negative effects on your health, including pregnancy complications, infertility and an increased risk of cancer.
- Toxic buildup: Hexane is used in the filtration of soy lecithin from soybeans, which causes toxic build-up. Over time, a buildup of this chemical can lead to nausea, fatigue, neurological disorders, and even liver and kidney problems.
Food manufacturers today are becoming more aware of ingredient labeling. Here’s how it can be labeled by manufacturers.
- soy lecithin
- Lecithin (from soy)
- soy lecithin
- Lecithin (derived from soy)
There are some minor differences here, but obviously the lecithin used in this case is derived from soy rather than eggs or something else. Similar labeling is used for sunflower-derived lecithin, which is also vegan-friendly, but much less common.
In Europe, lecithin is referred to as E476, which refers to animal-based lecithin, or E322, which refers to a plant-based alternative. However, E322 can also be derived from eggs.
Many people are allergic to soybeans, despite their popularity among the vegan community. Soy is one of the top eight allergenic foods. The allergens are found in the protein component of soybeans.
Soy Lecithin has been developed using a hot solvent extraction method, which ensures that most if not all of the allergenic proteins are removed. However, there will still be small amounts of soy protein in lecithin. Those with severe soy allergies may still react to soy lecithin, despite the low risk of reaction.
Another growing concern about soy is its environmental impact. For starters, the vast majority of soybean plants grown in agriculture today are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bottom line is that a plant product is vilified because of the negative environmental impact of its cultivation.
This is especially concerning when biologically diverse forested land is completely cleared to plant hundreds of acres of a monocultural clone. In addition to, During the felling of forests, many animals are brutally killed and driven from their habitat.
5. Genetically Modified
Soy is one of the most widely used genetically modified crops in the world. The GM type is thought to account for about 80% of total production.
There are numerous ethical issues associated with GMO practices.
A common criticism of GMO products is that they haven’t even been exposed to enough long-term research to determine their safety for human consumption. Soy, on the other hand, would come in second. Moreover, in most parts of the world, many pesticides are used in the cultivation of soy. High use of pesticides is harmful to the environment.
Soy lecithin powder and pure sunflower lecithin are the only forms of lecithin that you can be sure are vegan at first glance. Check the ingredient label on all other lecithin products to make sure nothing else is in them, as non-vegan ingredients are often added.
However, the information is available to you to make that decision. If you’re not a strict vegan then it might be right for you, and vice versa. Since this is entirely up to you to decide.