Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Soy v. Sperm Comment on VegNews October 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 12:03 pm

On page 30 of the Nov & Dec 2008 VegNews, there is an article titled, “Soy v. Sperm.” I found the last part of this excerpt ‘interesting’ and highlighted it in bold font. Any thoughts?

In Newspapers, Magazines, and Blogs are the world, the recent headline said it all: “Tofu a day, sperm goes away.” “Soy vey! Does eating tofu lower sperm count?” And, my favorite, “Soy-anara sperm!”

Journalist just love a good excuse to splash “sperm” across the page- which they did this past summer with porn-start bravado when a study in the online journal Human Reproduction singled out soy as a possible sperm tamer, reducing the potent protein rockets by as much as 41 million per milliliter in guys who ate just one portion of soy every two days.

Forty million! Is that enough to squelch the reproductive dreams of tofu-burger-chomping couples everywhere? Has anyone told Asians about this? Because they eat a ton of soy, most likely for the extra energy they need to keep up with all the children they’re miraculously producing with their lackluster sperm counts.

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22 Responses to “Soy v. Sperm Comment on VegNews”

  1. be(the)cause Says:

    oh, how original… emasculating asian men. hilarious, really. honestly, what do those last two sentences actually DO for the article? looks like nothing other than bring it back around to racist “humor”

  2. akomaki Says:

    Hmm…isn’t the comment actually *not* emasculating Asian men? Or am I reading it wrong?

    I do find the reference troubling though, for the way it assumes there is an “Asian” culture with a diet high in soy. Asia is no monolith, and not all Asian cultures include large amounts of soy in their traditional diets. (Heck, with amount of soy products added to processed US foods, I’d venture to guess that the Standard American Diet is higher in soy than most Asian diets, even ones that do include soy as part of most meals.

  3. sorsofilia Says:

    I don’t even get it. Are they saying Asian guys produce a lot of babies so the soy vs. sperm thing is a myth? Because one half of the sentence is sarcastic and the other half could or could not be.. I guess I understand, but it’s just so badly executed. That is bad racist ineffective stupid humor.

  4. Joselle Says:

    @ be(the)cause: I didn’t read it as emasculating Asian men, though that’s an interesting angle. I read it more like the writers and editors didn’t realize that they might have Asian readers. “Has anyone told Asians about this?” sounds like Asians wouldn’t be reading Veg News. Asians are not in on it. Of course, this was probably unintentional and unconscious but that is the problem.

    I have to admit, I do worry about soy and sperm count, perhaps needlessly. I want my boyfriend to stop eating so many damn isolated soy proteins! :)

    Anyways, I’ve read some posts in the vegan online world that have questioned this study. I think the sample was very small. One study should never be taken as gospel. If you’re going to make major health claims or decisions, you should look at a wide body of research and use more than a little common sense. Also, there is a difference between the kind of soy in processed foods in the US and the least-processed and whole soy products that are traditional in many Asian cuisines. This is a nutritional problem for everyone, not just vegans. Processed soy is in so much stuff, even in some animal products (isn’t it in chicken nuggets?). This doesn’t just concern vegans.

  5. Joselle Says:

    Oh, and another thing. Aren’t many farmed animals fed soy? So, how exactly are you bypassing soy if you choose steak over tempeh?

  6. Ico Says:

    Eh, I’m half-Korean, and I took it as humorous/sarcastic. I could see it being read otherwise, but this isn’t enough that it would show up on my radar.

  7. be(the)cause Says:

    well, i went to the interpretation that Asian men must be less virile because, through the stereotype i’m familiar with, they “have fewer children.” so the “ALL the children they’re miraculously having” comment (emphasis mine, obviously) seemed to be in sarcastic reference to an idea of lacking virility… therefore emasculating them if viewed through archaic yet still relevant USian hegemonic masculinity (as you know, equated with virility).

    all that said, i agree with the above comment that this is convoluted because the phrases seem to be divided between sarcastic ones and serious ones.

  8. maia Says:

    ummm…i just found out it to be kinda disgusting…i took it as third-world asians produce alot of kids so this whole ‘soy decreases the sperm count’ must be baloney…i guess we can chalk this up to bad writing skills and racism mixed in together…

    plus i just ate a great burrito with tofu in it and im not sure if i can finish the rest cause all i can picture is sperm…

  9. Serenity Love Divine Earth Says:

    Well soy based products are processed and contain phyto estrogens. 2 very good reasons, in my book, to be suspect.

  10. vicky Says:

    that last sentence is pretty stupid and unnecessary.

    i’m just wondering how the hell i got knocked up if that’s true… my partner and i are both vegan and eat lots of tofu and soy and all that good sperm-killin stuff. oh well. i like my fetus.

  11. ThoughtCriminal Says:

    “Are Phytoestrogens in Soy and Broccoli Hazardous?”

    http://www.all-creatures.org/health/arephyto.html

  12. supernovadiva Says:

    i saw the article (giant font title) when i got my magazine and thought ‘ewww. i don’t care about your bits.’ took me a while to get to that article, but i finally read it. i took the asian line as sarcasm then thought ‘i don’t remember tofu being used in indian cooking.’ it’s my biggest gripe. asia’s not a country. africa’s not a country. i would have been happier if they mentioned the statisitics of a country with proof of source. saying all asians consume tofu is as annoying as that damn african stew i see in vegan cookbooks.

    congrats vicky! blessings on your family.

  13. Crys T Says:

    I agree that the article makes “Asia” into some huge, undifferentiated mass culture, but I don’t agree that it emasculates “Asian” (however the writer was defining that) men. I do think it was a commentary on the writer’s perception that places where soy has been regularly consumed for a very long time don’t seem to be underpopulated. But yeah, way to reduce an entire continent to a simple stereotype.

    As an aside, I admit that I’m no scientist, but I find the link that ThoughtCriminal linked to pretty convincing. Have there been any studies done that show that places where soy is a staple food actually do have declining popluations? I know there have been studies that have purported to show that some men who eat soy have lower sperm counts, but what do we know about the demographics of that research? If it was all done in a US context, there may be other variables to take into account.

  14. Reno Says:

    What struck me the most was the implication that “asians” are indiscriminate breeding machines which is a stereotype that has been almost always used in a derogatory way.

    Maybe I’m not reading it right, but if I belonged to an Asian culture, I would be offended at the accusation that I must be pumping out babies constantly.

  15. emfole Says:

    sorry for posting this as a comment- but does anyone know anything about vegan and/or queer and/or jewish living in costa rica? thanks…

  16. Crys T Says:

    Oh yes, and I forgot to add what Reno said in 14.

  17. Adam Says:

    The last sentence is totally obnoxious. As other have already mentioned, it
    1) represents Asians as a homogenous group of Others (despite its ethnic diversity ranging from Turkey to India to Malaysia to Japan, etc);
    2) assumes “Asians” (or at least people of the South) don’t read [the news], or all exist in some premodern world;
    3) scapegoats “Asians” for global populations (eventhough in countries like Japan where birthratesare lower than anywhere);
    4) assume “Asians” eat a lot of soy, which is itself a stereotype (especially because it’s only popular in several countries).

    Seriously, who wrote this sensationalizing BS? Hopefully someone wil write (another) letter to the editor about VegNews’ white racism.

  18. Doris Says:

    Emfole, a friend of mine just moved to Costa Rica, and she’s a raw vegan. Do I know you?

  19. emfole Says:

    Hey Doris- I don’t know anyone in Costa Rica yet…i live in Brooklyn right now and am hoping to move before spring…i would be so grateful if you’d put me in touch with your friend. im scared that there won’t be any queers…vegans…jews….- my email is emfole@gmail.com :)

  20. emfole Says:

    Doris, I just read your bio- i also have bunnies! 3 of them and im active on the etherbun list- maybe you know me from there?

  21. Scott Says:

    only a bunch of veggies would get offended by that. In a lot of asian countries the population is growing to quickly (i.e reproducing faster than can be sustained) soy is used more commonly in asian food, thus they tend to have higher protein diets than the west. The point the author was making is that as they are still reproducing at rapid rates in comparison to the west so soy can not make you infertile. it was a tounge in cheek comment, im guessing an attempt at satire. seriously I bet you every one upset by this “racist” comment isnt even asian.

  22. Henry Says:

    I took it as a joke, laughed, and then went on to the next sentence. The tone of the article is sacastic/humorous. Relax people…you’ll live longer.


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