Is My Soy Latte Really That Bad?

I drink one every day. How is it affecting me? What are my alternatives? Join the discussion below!

It’s pretty much ritual at this point. Wake up, get dressed for work, get in the car, then anxiously await my morning latte. If I’m early, I’ll go to Rocket Cat a few blocks away from home. (After some field research, I’m crowning them best soy latte in Fishtown.) If I’m running late, the one at work does just fine. I made the switch about 10 months ago. I was tired of drinking regular iced coffee and feeling the effects of that extra sugar and cream, i.e. stomach pains, probably from the dairy creamer. I thought switching to soy milk would be lighter on my stomach. So there it was. “May I please have a medium soy latte?” That’s the question I now ask every morning.

But then I got to thinking. Is this good for my body? I mean, I thought it was. I thought everybody else did, too. But…is there something better for me besides a soy latte? Actually, what IS soy?


Soy is a protein derived from —  you guessed it, a soybean. It’s one of the few available plant-based sources of complete protein. Many of us come in contact with soy many times over the course of a day — via cheese, milk, bread, etc. It’s a dietary staple across the globe, and it gained popularity here when the idea of eating meat substitutes like tofu and tempeh translated to better health. Vegetarians and vegans rely on protein alternatives for nutrient support. After many reads, I’d it seems the general consensus is soy = good. It does possess many benefits: high in fiber, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. But then there are the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy headlines, of which a main concern are the Isoflavones (plant estrogens) contained in soy which are linked to excess estrogen, and may lead to cause breast cancer.

Now, I don’t want to get too scientific, as I’m not an expert, so I’d rather talk about experience:

Around the same time I switched to drinking soy lattes, I also started adhering to a more vegetarian-based diet. Not full vedge, but I started consuming A LOT more fake meat than I did in the past. It didn’t concern me at first, but then I considered the amount of soy I was ingesting on a daily basis. The recommended intake is about 2-4 servings (25 grams) a day. About 1 cup of soy milk translates to one serving. Some days, I may surpass the 25 grams by eating a soy-based lunch and dinner, while also accounting for that daily latte. My friends standing in the coffee line started commenting on my order. “You know soy is bad for your lady bits.” Or, “You should really switch to almond milk.” Okay, well, almond milk in coffee is just bad in my opinion. My taste buds don’t allow it. But, is soy bad for your lady bits? One thing I will say is that my menstrual cramps have taken a turn for the worse. The past few months, they have been horrible, to the point where I can’t get off the couch. Could this be related back to my soy intake?

Just like anything, moderation is key. I honestly don’t think the amount of soy I’m ingesting is cause for any harm, but, it has got me starting to think more about my alternatives and my overall relationship with soy.

So, I’d love to hear from you all about your thoughts on soy and get a bit of a discussion going. Experiences, concerns, comments, suggestions…all are welcome in the comment section below!


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  1. I made somewhat of a transition over to Soy milk due to being Lactose Intolerant, I occasionally drink Lactaid, but I have also heard the Soy isn’t good for you because of the reason you listed. I loaded up on small pints of soy creamer for my coffee, but since I got the taste of Almond milk that’s my main “Milk”. I feel that it’s easier to drink and it makes my coffee/tea so much smoother. In terms of coffee a lot of places where I live only have soy as a milk alternative so I’d usually get that in my coffee.


  2. As well i changed to soy milk because of intollerance but for me is still hard to digest. As Dani said, in the previous comment, almond milk taste better. But even in this case is better to buy a good brand even if can be more expensive. I try to not drink it too much but alternate with tea or juce. I use it as well for cooking and cake.

  3. I feel like in moderation it’s probably not that bad, but I would suggest if you’re thinking about making a switch to an alternative that coconut milk might be a good choice! It’s creamier than almond milk without the nutty taste in your latte and gives you a boost of healthy fat that can keep you fuller longer too!

  4. I personally can’t say I know for an absolute fact that soy is bad for women or men because of the estrogen present in it (assuming that’s what they mean by ‘bad for your lady bits’) , however, I do know that soy is one of the crops that is most heavily treated with pesticides so we should make sure the soy we do it is organic to avoid some of that. I love coconut milk in my lattes! Hemp milk is also not bad most of the time taste wise. I would see if the cafes you love offer either of those alternatives.

  5. Soy milk in coffee tastes great – it makes latte a little sweet, just the right amount of sweetness. But I have heard many times too that soy milk is not good, even for your digestion. I tried Almond Milk – at first it seems weird to me too, almond milk in coffee?? But after couple of cups of almond milk latte you’ll get used to it. It gives similar sweetness and a slight note of almond.

  6. Soy isn’t the best alternative in the long run, but it is great in small doses! However, soy does have negative side effects (including being “bad for your lady bits”, but its worse for men) on your health but is also terrible environmentally.

    This is why I switch it up every now and then! Like you I’m not a fan of almond milk in my coffee, so I gravitate more towards coconut milk. Coconut milk is delicious, as it adds a subtle flavor underneath the coffee. I’ve also adapted to using agave or raw honey as a sweetener rather than sugar. Best cup o’ joe you’ll ever get!

  7. I really like almond milk in my lattes. However lately I’ve been doing some research and it seems that in SO many non-dairy milks (even organic ones) there is Carageenan, which is really not good for the intestines and digestive process! I’ve had to do a bunch of searching to find dairy free milk that doesn’t use that ingredient.

  8. You said it: moderation is the key. A little bit of soy is in fact good for you, especially soy milk (natural and no sugar added). And like you, I can’t stand Almond in my drinks, just doesn’t work. So, I stick to soy milk… a soy latte a day (or even 2) is no biggie. The problems arise in some of the other soy products as far as my personal research is concerned. If you are planning to cut down on soy products, cut down of those soy based meat alternatives first. I mean, an avocado a day and some nuts will provide you with plenty of protein. And don’t forget, soy milk itself will have some protein in it. So, you really don’t need that tofu in your meal. Like you, I am not a vegetarian myself, but I also eat mostly plant based food (read vegetables and fruits). I do eat one or two servings of some kind of meat per week; mostly low mercury fish (Salmon, Tilapia, Shrimp, Scallop, etc.) Every now and then I do eat tofu or other processed meat alternative, but only may be once or twice a month (or less), and that’s it.

    Well, bottom line is, I try to avoid processed food as much as possible. As far as soy goes, may be try to make your latte at home instead of ordering at a cafe. That way you can buy natural soy milk, with no added sweetener, from a good source, and can rest assured that it is actually very healthy for you. Avoid tofu and other processed soy food as much as possible, and you should be just fine.

  9. Moderation, as you stated, is key. Almond milk, as you said, pairs terribly with coffee. Plant-based milk is always the better option than cow’s milk. Always. If you are worried, switch to coconut milk.

  10. I’ve met with nutritionists and hormone specialists that insist soy is bad for your lady hormones. I was just diagnosed with a hormonal disorder (PCOS) and have been doing a lot of research, and am definitely cutting Soy out of my diet because of what I’ve found/heard.

    I’ve been having coconut milk in my latte, they sell it at Starbucks! It tastes amazing, no dairy, and no poor homonal side effects. win, win, win!

  11. I would just pray about it & ask God what he thinks! He did make it! But I would say everything in moderation as well.

  12. I have been a vegetarian my entire life and I am very healthy and have never had a problem with protein, anemia or a hormonal imbalance. Growing iHerb I was young my parents ate a lot of soy and by default, so did I, now I as an adult and after reading a lot of research on the subject try to limit my intake of soy products. Let’s face it, soy is in sooo much food out there as it is, then if we can make substitutions when possible, we should, since there is no real proof either way as to if it is bad for our hormones or not. It is better to be cautious until science really comes to an agreement on this subject. So, choose coconut, oat or rice milk instead of soy in your latte, and eat field roast instead of soy patties, etc. the less processed your fake meats are, the better. If you crave tofu, eat tempeh instead, it’s far easier to digest and much better for you. Don’t fear soy, just don’t rely on it for your main source of protein. There are sooo many other choices theses days, and most of them taste far better too!

  13. Different forms of soy are found in almost everything (including lecithin which is commonly used as an emulsifier). Many facilities also add soy to the allergen warning on the labels just because they manufacture soy products in the same facility and don’t use “good manufacturing processes” to clean machines between products so there is a lot of cross-contamination. (Look up “good manufacturing processes” – it’s a real industry term and facilities don’t often implement the practice.) It’s very frustrating trying to find soy-free products.

    I am a vegetarian with a severe soy allergy. There are plenty of other protein sources out there. It’s just frustrating that I can’t even find a box of crackers that are safe to eat – I have to make my own EVERYTHING. Most commercial brand almond milk even has soy in it! I have an allergy to sunflower oil/seeds, too, and that is starting to take the place of soy in many products.

    Regarding milk, I either use organic dairy milk or I make my own almond or coconut milk.

  14. I started ordering soy in my cappuccinos because of a dairy allergy. If I have it once in a while, it doesn’t seem to do me any harm. But if I drink one every day or even a couple days a week, the soy makes me break out! I can’t do the whole almond milk in my coffee either, but I’ve found that cashew or macadamia nut milk taste a whole lot better and don’t do my skin any harm.

  15. The last couple of weeks had me rely more and more on tempeh and soy milk / yoghurt and I actually feel like my cramps got worse, too. I’ve been vegetarian since 2009 and vegan since march this year. I really prefer soy milk in my coffee but I think about cutting it out to see whether that would affect me more positively. I know that my mum (54) began drinking more soy milk because it relieved her symptoms of menopause, so there really might be something bigger going on with those estrogenes.
    Almond milk can have a weird taste in cappuccinos. But it actually depends very much on the brand you use. It’s important to use a brand which has a high percentage of almonds because otherwise it’s too watery, I think. Hazelnut milk or cashew milk are really great in my opinion.

  16. I used to drink soy milk since I am lactose intolerant but a few years back I read an article on how soy milk may not be the best for me since I suffer from thyroid disease as well. I’ve tried those “lactose free” milks from the grocery store but I still get the stomach and bathroom issues that I get from normal milk. Because of this I’ve gone to just drinking my coffee black. Took some getting used to at first but now it’s not too bad. I do splurge everyonce in a while and add some flavored creamer. It’s a bummer having to stay away from foods and drinks that I used to enjoy but I know the benefits of keeping my body healthy is going to last way longer than my cup of coffee.

  17. My friend and her daughter were on a plant based diet when her daughter was about four or five years old. They had to stop eating soy products because her daughter was developing breasts.

  18. I have a thyroid autoimmune disorder and soy consumption is supposed to be completely avoided because it can affect the absorption level of synthetic thyroid hormones. :(

  19. Hello!
    I am a vegan and been having soy for years now with no harmful effects at all. One page I can suggest (been following now for years) is Simply type “soy” in the search field.
    I think Dr. Greger is trustworthy both because he presents all the scientific evidence for his recommendations and because he responds to no commercial interests.

  20. I eat plant-based and I too LOVE my soy latte. I’m really torn because I’m not very fond of other milk alternatives, but I’m also worried about the isoflavones. My mother had breast cancer that was caused by excess estrogen and she used to consume soy products and must avoid them now. However, I must say that they aren’t sure isoflavones are what caused her cancer…very confused about the subject

  21. Hi FP! I am a first year veterinary medicine graduate student at Penn (as well as a life-long vegetarian). We’ve recently learned quite a bit about this from our doctors in endocrinology, debunking my past soy concerns. In fact, we have learned that the estrogens in soy actually prevent things like breast cancer! Here’s how:

    The estrogen found in soy – genistein – is actually a very weak estrogen. What that means is that this weak estrogen will sit on the estrogen receptors in our body and BLOCK other, more potent estrogens from our receptors, protecting us from those more potent effects we would otherwise be getting.

    In further detail, there are two types of estrogen receptors in our bodies – an alpha receptor, which promotes proliferation (and thus promotes cancer growth) and a beta receptor which is actually ANTI-proliferative (and thus preventative of abnormal cell growth leading to cancer). Genistein sits on the alpha receptors and blocks more potent estrogens in our body from activating those receptors (which blocks cancer proliferation). Additionally, genistein ACTIVATES the beta receptors, meaning it also actively supports anti-proliferation activity.

    If you ever end up writing about soy again, please look into this information! I’m sure you have many other readers who eat a lot of soy and would like to hear this – I know that as someone who consumes a lot of soy in my lifestyle, it’s something I was very interested in learning and something that made me feel a lot more comfortable with what I eat!

  22. Perhaps you could try oat milk?
    You can’t taste it in coffee, it’s super rich in fibre- it’s nothing like Almond milk
    As a vege I used to eat a lot of soy mock ‘meat’ product but I try to avoid it as much as possible as soy farming contributes to enormous amounts of rainforest deforestation.

  23. An alternative to almond milk is coconut milk, it has the consistency of dairy cream and actually has only an essence of coconut rather than a full on taste (not a big fan) I’ve never been into soy milk and its industry isn’t too considerable of the environment when you really look into it and coconut milk is growing in popularity so you can probably find it in a lot of cafe’s and coffee shops now as an another plant-based alternative!

  24. Hey there! I agree with Brae, there are a lot of misconceptions about soy.

    However, one thing she forgot to note is that moderation is still key, and some vegetarians rely on a heavy supplementation of soy. Also, there are different types of processed soy. The Cancer Society study that concludes WHOLE soy *might* reduce risks of breast cancer, also base this off of the maximum consumption per day of a moderate 1-2 servings per day . The Society still recommends actually avoiding certain types of soy:

    “Avoid foods made from soy protein powder, soy PROTEIN ISOLATE or isolated soy protein (read the ingredient list to look for these). These forms of soy are often found in nutrition bars, soy protein powder, many high protein breads and cereals and vegetarian ‘meat-less’ options, such as certain brands of veggie burgers or soy hot dogs.”

    keep it whole,
    keep it balanced,
    and smirk when your pals give you friendly ribbing about soy nutrition, joke’s on them ;)

    Blah-bler-science-blah! Anyway, the most important point is that you are switching to a more vedge-based diet. Rad.

  25. Just as Brae said, I am an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and my nutritional science professor made the point that soy is actually very safe for human consumption and a great foundational element of plant based diets! He said a lot of the negative media towards soy isn’t backed up properly. so feel good about your lattes xx

  26. I started drinking soy everyday in my matcha lattes and now I get horrible headaches/ migraines (which I never got before) I’ve been meaning to make the switch to almond milk but it’s just such a habit now to get soy.

  27. Happy to share my thoughts here!
    I also like to rely on personal experience for the most (since that’s the only thing you are a 100% sure of you can trust).
    I have a very sensitive gut, always had. This meant I had to deal with the worst stomach cramps and problems for the 21st years of my life, until I found out what was causing this. Cutting out gluten, lactose and soy from my diet did the trick. Whenever I (accidentally) eat soy, I get the pains back immediately. My menstrual cramps also dissaparead since I made this diet change.
    For me, the most likely explanation for my reaction to soy is the fact that almost all soy is genetically modified and thus sprayed with glyphosate, which is proven through maybe scientific experiments to cause irritation in the bowel and problems withthe hormone balance (which affects the lady bits as well)
    So I would give no soy a try for at least two weeks and see how it feels (and how it affects your period). Better alternatives to meat and dairy could be lentils, beans. rice, peas, sweet potato, spinach, ect. I am a vegan and I don’t have any nutrient defficienties!

    Sorry if my English isn’t perfect, I’m not a native!:)
    Good luck!!

  28. Your cramps are probably just related to your downgrade in iron intake I’d guess. Honestly I prefer other milks (like cashew) but I know soy has WAY less of an affect on your hormones than meat does. I mean that stuff is pumped with hormones and milk is even worse than that, considering it’s a growth hormone in itself. Real milk is so much more likely to lead to breast cancer than soy. I think the best way to beat the cramps is spinach and ginger! Iron rich veggies!!! Soy honestly is not as bad as everyone thinks.

  29. Soy is high in estrogen so it does cause bad cramping. High levels of estrogen are also associated with a higher chance of breast cancer. Google it. I started having terribly bad cramps a couple years ago, and I chocked it up to and increase in hormones in my mid twenties. But I became aware that I, personally, cannot eat more than 4 servings of soy a month or I will have painful cramping.

  30. I used to be ADDICTED to soy lattes. They were my kryptonite. But after a while I stopped drinking one every single day and drank more tea, because it tastes just as good if you make it at home, unlike a soy latte per se. Also, the soy was giving me irregular periods, and I’m on the pill so it didn’t really add up. A really awesome alternative for soy is cashew milk. Tastes closed to cows milk and is soy free. However most places don’t serve it. If you take a carton to your coffee shop and ask them to make your drink with it they will most likely and also give you a discount for providing your own milk. Cashew milk is awesome :)

  31. you know, my acupuncturist suggest i ease off of coffee before my period, and it really helped with my awful cramps! granted, it’s the meanest thing in the world to deprive oneself of a morning ritual like coffee, but damn the result speaks for itself. along with caffeine, easing off the sugar and heavily processed stuff before your period can also help alleviate cramps etc.

  32. I am daily basis my caffeine consumption is a black cup of coffee. When I found myself somewhere where I couldn’t stand the taste of what the black coffee tastes like, my option would actually be a soy milk cappuccino. Take the example of being 2 weeks in Portland Oregon, and finding Stumptown coffee not to be what everybody has told me to be. What’s far is eating any soy products, almost a hundred percent of the time I only eat tofu and tempeh. There are some people who say that there are no soy beans that are not genetically modified, even though GMOs are not allowed in organic food. So until it’s absolutely certain that also is bad, or a doctor says I can’t consume it for whatever reason, I will have some nice organic super firm tofu and the best priced tempeh from Trader Joes. The less processed sorry one eats the better off you are. A lot of the meat substitutes are made with soy protein isolate which is not good for you. It’s the last process of the soybean industry and in a lot of cases it’s been processed with hexane. If you really want that me D texture, you might be better off with seitan, unless you have gluten intolerance.

  33. Hemp milk lattes are to die for!

    From what I gather, if you go organic none GMO soy then it’s all good (in moderation like all things). Plus if you consider all the hormones you are saving yourself from from by skipping cow’s milk then you come out on top. That being said, I eat tofu a couple times a week but I try not to over do it so I go for hemp milk lattes and they are absolutely delicious in my opinion!!

  34. I found out I was lactose intolerant about four years ago. I made the switch to soy milk first, but did experience some of the side effects others have mentioned. After trying a few different kinds of milk I settled on almond milk. The main reason was vanity, while I was trying different milks I realized that both soy and coconut milk were causing breakouts. It’s one of the side-effects that the estrogen in soy milk can have on the body.

  35. Suggestion: Buy a can of regular, full fat coconut milk from the Asian food section in your grocery store or at and Asian market – make sure it’s 3 ingredients OR LESS. Scoop the contents (not too much of the liquid) into a bowl or container and whip with sugar to taste. You’ll have an excellent whipped cream consistency to put into your coffee or tea in the morning (or ANY time). Put 3 table spoons of the whipped coconut cream into your drink of choice and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Ta da! A lovely latte made right at home. Enjoy! : )
    *You can microwave it for a minute if it gets cold and have nearly the same effect.
    **Put it in your hot cocoa or Teechino or hot carob!! Don’t forget to had another scoop for the top!!!

  36. If your periods got more painful or heavier, it could well be due to an increase in estrogen. Be careful when you go into menopause, because the doctor put me on the estrogen patch and I’ve never experienced a flow like that or pain like that. I stopped them and went back to “normal.”

  37. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with consuming soy, so I say, keep going for it if you like it. The whole “plant estrogen” thing was a myth propagated by none other than the dairy industry in attempts to thwart their competition. What everyone fails to realize is that soy is a bean, i.e. a plant, and plants do not contain mammalian hormones. You know what do contain actual animal hormones? Cows. Dairy milk is not only full of sex hormones (considering it comes from recently or currently pregnant cows), but also growth hormones, stress hormones, and IGF-1, a known cancer cell promoter. You’re MUCH better off consuming soy than dairy any day, no matter how “organic” or “hormone-free” they claim the dairy is (there is absolutely no way to remove hormones from breast milk — it is present no matter what, even in human milk).

  38. In researching an attempt to help thrawt off my hot flashes, I came across several articles on why Asian women don’t get hot flashes. One of their staple daily intake is soy. I am now a Starbucks customer based on this knowledge and hoping that this will help alleviate some of my hot flashes. I would like to know how much miligrans are in a soy latte and is there is still a lot of caffeine in a soy latte. Lol It’s my new medicine.

  39. I make my own soy coffee and love it.
    I put a cup fill of soy in a pot on a low flame and add coffee and stir.
    When it starts to steam (not simmer or boil) it is ready.
    If you allow it to get too hot will alter the flavour and doesnt taste great.
    I enjoy the sweet creaminess and prefer it to milk but being a natural progesterone
    i wonder if you can drink too much.

  40. I’ve had a soy latte daily for years and am having no issues. They are delicious and I have no reason or plans to give them up.

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