Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Ashley and I have some experience avoiding soy while traveling. We’ve written about soy in Europe, soy in the UK, soy in Canada, and even soy on a road trip. But all of these places have been relatively similar. Now I’m going to have a chance to try something completely different: in a few days I’ll be headed off to China.
While I personally won’t be avoiding soy while I’m there, I’m very interested to experience the cuisine and see how practical it is to avoid soy when it feels like it will be everywhere. Remember that time that we went to a Korean BBQ place in New York? I’m guessing it’ll be like that.
Here is my plan to investigate soy:
Check the grocery store. I’m excited to try a few grocery stores (from street markets to supermarkets) to see what types of foods might be soy-free! I’ll first be checking to see if I can determine any of the ingredients at all. Can I even read the packaging? Then, I’ll definitely be checking the breads and oils, but since they make up less of the typical Asian diet I’ll also be checking a variety of other products, like sauces, to see what things might contain soy. If I was on top of my game, I could go to an Asian grocery store here at home to get a sense for what types of products might be soy-free, but I don’t think I have time to do that before I leave.
Look for allergen menus in restaurants. I’ll be looking for allergen menus (or at least allergen listings) at some restaurants. While I don’t expect smaller places to have this information readily available, larger places (and places that cater to more western travelers) might. It’ll be interesting to see what is available.
Watch vendors prepare street food. To get a sense for food preparation practices, I’ll be watching street vendors make their food. Do they cover the grill with oil? Do they put a sauce on everything? Just watching food preparation for a few minutes will be very insightful into cooking styles and will hopefully help identify what types of foods could be soy-free (or easily altered to be soy-free).
Find fresh food. One thing I want to determine is how much fresh food is available. We know that fresh food is less likely to contain soy, so how easy is it to find fresh food in China? Then, how easy is it to determine that the fresh food is soy-free?
Traveling to China will certainly be a new experience. I’m excited to try new things and investigate the food scene—I’ll let you know what I find out!