Help! It Is Impossible to Be Vegetarian and Not Eat Soy

A cry for help from someone who is tired of eating eggs and beans.

As I type this, I am eating Milk House french fries for lunch. And don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. But they are also defeat french fries. You see, for the past two weeks, after chatting with Naomi Fenlin about how my sky-high soy intake could be screwing with my skin, I’ve been avoiding soy products like the plague and turning to, well, that’s the problem: I don’t know what to turn to. Cue the french fries. (But don’t worry, I’ve paired them with a kombucha, because balance.)

You see, I don’t eat meat, and my go-to lunch is usually some sort of salad topped with tofu. Tofu is filling; tofu is versatile; anything with tofu makes for the perfect vegetarian lunch! But since nixing tofu from my diet, lunch has been a struggle. I have eaten approximately 8,284 pieces of avocado toast and, when I get bored of that, french fries. Last week, I made the mistake of getting a salad from HipCityVeg sans tofu, and I was ravenous again by 3 p.m.

And dinner is basically the same story. Without being able to turn to veggie sausage and tofu to add some protein to my quinoa or salads or veggie stir-frys, I’m lost. Of course there are eggs, and I love me some eggs — but not every single night. And of course there are beans too, but same story. Also, if I have beans at lunch, there’s no way I want to fill up on them again at dinner. For a brief moment, I thought I would be able to enjoy the magic that is seitan, which is made from wheat, but nope. All of the seitan brands I can find at Whole Foods use soy flour, soy sauce or both. Grrrrrr.

And the thing is, it’s not that I don’t know how to get creative in the kitchen. It’s just that I am so used to being able to turn to soy products, mainly tofu, to bulk up my meals, get my protein in and fill up. So without them, I’m feeling a little lost. Actually, I’m pretty sure I feel exactly how meat-eaters feel when they attempt to go vegetarian: Like, “But what can I eat?”

So this is a cry for help to all my fellow vegetarians out there: What can be my new — soy-free! — tofu? I’m looking for something that is healthy, versatile, filled with protein and on the cheap side, that isn’t beans. Is that a thing that exists? Because I have found no luck in my grocery store hunts. If you’ve got ideas, please share in the comments section!

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly — here’s how: