This bears repeating, so that you can feel really clear. Soy products have been around for thousands of years and are a dietary staple in many regions of Asia. Research has shown that people in these regions have lower rates of heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, fewer hip fractures and fewer hot flashes. In addition, dozens of clinical studies have indicated the health benefits of diets rich in soy.

Some have raised the question as to whether soy has untoward effects. Happily, these concerns have been set aside. Girls who consume soy products in adolescence have about a 30 percent reduction in breast cancer risk as adults. Women previously diagnosed with breast cancer have a significantly greater survival if they include soy in their diets, compared with women who tend not to use soy products.

However, if a person is uncertain or simply does not want to include soy, I always remind them that a vegan diet does not mean joining the Soy Promotion Society. A vegan diet can mean many things: a Latin American tradition with beans, rice and tortillas; a Mediterranean tradition emphasizing vegetables, pasta, beans and fruit. Soy products come from an Asian tradition and are entirely optional.
Excerpted from Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston. Available from Weinstein Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011.


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