Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
A few weeks ago, Ashley and I had the opportunity to sample a variety of international foods at different European embassies around Washington, D.C. While food in Europe tends to contain less soy than food in America, we weren’t actually in Europe and we were curious to see what food options would be soy-free. In addition to trying out the foods themselves, it was also going to be interesting to see the differences in ingredient labeling between the different embassies.
We started our day at Belgium with both pre-packaged and unpackaged cookies and chocolate. Ashley didn’t eat any of the unpackaged food because she couldn’t determine if it was soy-free. The pre-packaged items listed their ingredients, but unfortunately they all contained soy. We also ate fresh fries at the Belgium embassy. The ingredients of the fries weren’t listed, but the frying oil was identified as peanut oil. This eliminated our main source of concern with regards to french fries (the use of soybean oil), so we felt confident eating the fries.
After visiting Belgium, we moved on to Finland. Finland was great! They listed the ingredients of every food item they provided. This allowed us to choose soy-free foods to try and, as a result, we felt like we didn’t miss out on any food because we knew everything that Ashley could eat or needed to avoid.
Our next stop was the UK. Here, we had a banger and crisps for lunch, and here is where it got tricky. The crisps were easy because they had ingredients listed on the package so we just picked a flavor and verified that it was soy-free before opening them. The banger was more difficult. The sausage itself wasn’t a problem; we never worry about soy in sausages, but the bun and condiments (hot mustard) were unknowns. Luckily, we were able to check the ingredients of the hot mustard on the bottle before using it, so we could verify that it was soy-free. But the bun was more challenging. Ashley could have just avoided the bun and eaten the sausage on its own. This was our fallback option, but we didn’t want to turn down the bun if we didn’t have to. Instead of just skipping the bun, we did some fast research: we found the name of the restaurant that was supplying the food, tried to find an allergen menu (unsuccessfully), and then found the local bakery that supplies their bread. We researched this bakery and found that they use minimal ingredients. We couldn’t be 100% certain that the bread was soy-free, but it was a reasonable guess to make. Thanks to the quick research we did while standing in line, Ashley was able to eat the bun and didn’t have any issues!
We ended our day in Denmark with Flødeboller, which are essentially chocolate covered marshmallow cookies. They didn’t have any ingredients listed but were in plastic clamshell packaging (i.e., they could have been from a bakery). Since there were no ingredients, and since almost all chocolate contains soy lecithin, Ashley skipped these. It’s very reasonable that the cookie and marshmallow were soy-free, but the chocolate covering almost certainly contained soy. Since they looked so good, we may try making them at home with soy-free chocolate.
The food at the embassies was typical European food. We were happy that soy-free options were more prevalent than usual, but there were still a few items that Ashley had to avoid out of caution. At an event like this, trying new foods was made so much easier by having the ingredients listed. We really appreciated the clarity that food labels provided as we were able to try new foods without concern. Overall, our day left us with a taste of European food and had us looking forward to when we can next travel to try the real thing!