Only about 6% of the soy produced globally is directly consumed by humans, typically as edamame beans, tofu, or soy milk. More than three-fourths of global soy production goes to animal feed. The rest is processed by soybean meal technology into oils or used for biofuels and other industrial processes.
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Getting rid of soybean anti-nutrients
Soybeans have proteins and fat that make them great for human and animal consumption. But they also have some anti-nutrients that can be harmful to health. Soybean meal technology employs two main methods to reduce these anti-nutrients.
You can use a slow industrial cooker. Here soybeans will pass through chambers heated at different temperatures. This way, you get rid of the anti-nutrients. Moreover, the bean will be preserved, and its amino acids, fat, and proteins.
On the other hand, you can use an extruder. The anti-nutrients will be inhibited in a short time with a high temperature. Consequently, you will get a full-fat soy meal, which you can pass through a press to extract the oil and get soy cake.
Leverage soybean meal technology for plant-based meat products
Whether full fat, low fat, or defatted, most soybean meal products used for human consumption need further processing, such as extra milling and drying.
Although the majority of soy meal is used for animal feed, industrial production forms a critical part of plant-based trends in novel foods. You can make soy protein shakes, soy flour, soy patty burgers, sausages, and even bacon.
In addition, there are many ongoing types of research for future development and uses of soybean production for industrial uses. For example, the extracted soy oil can be used as building materials, biodiesel, lubricants, and even soy-based tires.
Are soy production and soybean meal consumption coming to an end?
Soy production and consumption increased in the world. The demand for cropland expansion for soy plantations has increased as well. Soy is one of the biggest causes of deforestation. As well as its side effects of biodiversity loss, soil erosion, carbon emissions, and water contamination.
The demand for soybean meal production to feed livestock can be replaced with alternative proteins. If alternatives such insect-protein are used, then not extra land will be needed. Soy production can continue to exist if soybeans would be cultivated in a sustainable way. And land used for soy aimed at animal feed would be reforested.