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Oct 31, 2008 06:44 PM

'Vegetarian' Soy Milk

In adherence to their religion, Thais go vegetarian from time to time. Something I found peculiar is the appearance of 'jay', aka 'vegetarian', soymilk boxes on many store shelves.

I had always thought that soy milk was vegetarian, so I asked a local vegetarian to explain. I was told that regular soy milk is 'fortified' with dairy milk.

Is this a common practice worldwide, or is SEA an exception?

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  1. Hmm...I can't vouch for every label, but I haven't broken out in hives after drinking several US brands (Silk, Trader Joe's, Edensoy, Westsoy) so it seems they are dairy-free (I am allergic to dairy). I am pretty sure that if soy milk were fortified with dairy, they would have to say so on the label.

    1. Good grief, the things people will declare to be true. Your local vegetarian is misinformed. Unless it specifies on the label that there is some form of dairy in the soy milk, you can be sure that there is not. The exposure to lawsuits alone from anyone with a dairy allergy would be enough to deter a company from spiking their soy with dairy. Check out the website for Silk Soy Milk, for example for their answers to questions about whether soy milk is vegan (yes), Kosher (in their case, yes) and dairy free (emphatically yes).

      1 Reply
      1. re: ccbweb

        Actually, Thai soy milk often does have milk fat added. It is listed on the ingredients and even advertised on the label, something like 'enriched with dairy milk', so I imagine Thai people know to check. I've seen it in local shops, imported from Bangkok.

      2. i wish i could operate under that assumption, but soy does not mean dairy free. the majority of soy milks are dairy free, but even just today, i was looking at some soy cheese in trader joe's, and it has casein as an ingredient... very disappointing... i wouldn't necessarily pursue soy products if i could tolerate dairy properly...

        6 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          Most non-dairy cheeses contain casein as it's the factor which makes it melt "right".

          1. re: lgss

            i understand the need for it, but man my stomach certainly resents it...

            1. re: Emme

              We avoid all imitation cheese products. We're vegan. Instead of mac and cheese we make gf pasta with hummus! For pizza we used eggplant instead of cheese.

              1. re: lgss

                That is one of the reasons I could never be vegan (though I'm somewhat lactose-intolerant and don't digest cow's milk well). I love eggplant, and there are several authentic pizzas with no cheese at all, but I do like a bit on some kinds of pizza.

                Pasta and hummus doesn't appeal at all, though I like both of those foods very much.

                1. re: lgss

                  glad those work for you... myself, i don't like hummus...

                  im vegetarian and gluten free now, but really since dairy is giving me issues lately, my animal product that still remains in my diet are egg whites... and i couldn't imagine life without these...

            2. re: Emme

              I have never seen milk products in "Western" soya milks (those produced in North America or Europe). And I always read labels.

              Emme, there is vegan soya cheese - perhaps it doesn't melt as well.

            3. So, I guess for all my vegan, strict vegetarian and/or lactose intolerant friends out there, if in Thailand, ask for "jay" soy milk (unless you can read Thai).