Soyu are our plant-based, alternative dairy producers based here at the EcoVillage.

Producing their own soya milk and extra-firm tofu, that has a reputation for being the finest you'll find outside of East Asia - but actually made right here in Leicester! Who knew?

Let's meet Sai, whose vision for really great vegan essentials means we now want tofu-with-everything.

True story.


How it all began.

Tofu is a mighty-fine, meat-free food.

Made from soya bean curd, its firm texture is a fantastic alternative to meat, a great flavour vehicle (particularly for strong Asian flavours), and reaps many a health benefit, too.

Tofu is a stable diet in Asia, says Sai, who has been dreaming of introducing his food to our own fair isle, since arriving in the UK sixteen years ago.

He found that the tofu available here had a weak, spongy texture and was completely lacking in flavour and flair.

So, with the support of the Food & Drink Forum and East Midlands Chamber, Sai began Soyu, during the lockdown period of Covid-19.

It took months and months to develop their tofu product, only happy to start selling it once it truly represented the delicious, nutritious and plump style he knew from home.

Sai wanted to start the food manufacturing process to support farmers in Burma, where he is originally from, with a good standard of living. Sai has seen, first-hand, that the revenue from the food supply chain in developed countries isn't fairly distributed with the growers.

A lack of income for the original producers means they cannot meet basic family living costs, especially for education.

Without this vital training and education, the only alternative to increase their household income is to grow more. However this, in turn, requires more land.

The only way to then obtain this is by deforestation. As has been seen with Palm Oil plantations in Indonesia.

Something we all know is devasting for wildlife, climate change and the planet as a whole.

So Sai knew he could do more.



Why the Eco Village?

The EcoVillage represents exactly how Sai grew up in Burma. When going grocery shopping, almost everything is refilled.

Sai was horrified when he first shopped in supermarkets here in the UK. The volume of overly-packaged produce and goods seems so completely unnecessary to him. Which it is, of course. 

This was compounded further when online shopping increased, with each item arriving in even more packaging, only to be thrown away immediately after use.

He has experienced a decrease in local availability, with online shopping often being the only option. So this is something Sai wants to help rectify and he'd love to help support the Village as much as he can.


Sustainability factors for Soyu.

All of the soya beans must pass the Soyu test!

Sai insists on partnering with high-quality, GM-free, organic, ethical and sustainable bean suppliers for their tofu and milk.

More importantly, he believes, it produces a higher quality product for a reasonable price to help avoid 'cheap' food.

Sai says poor quality food is one of the biggest causes of health problems in developed countries. So he wishes to offer an alternative to this, as well as contribute to a reduction in unnecessary packaging and food waste.

Soyu deliver all their food products in a basket, not using single-use plastic carrier bags in their Leicester-based business.

Here at the Village, Soyu's milk is available in glass bottles, that customers can rinse and return to us, to be refilled and reused. (Perpetually!)


Continuous improvements for Soyu.

The Soyu team might be small, but they certainly don't lack ambition.

They have a genuine love for good food and want to work in a way that supports fair trade, the future and our environment.

Soyu have all ready contributed to a reduction in waste by using refillable tubs for their tofu and bottles for milk, and have already come a long way since their lockdown beginnings!

But they are committed to making continuing improvements wherever possible, and feel there is still a lot to do until we genuinely reflect the sustainable shopping habits of the East.


Future goals for Soyu.

Soyu love food and exist so that vegan dining is a delicious, healthy experience, and collaborate with farmers, chefs, charities and food policy creators who feel the same.

Sai's ultimate goal is to be a sustainable business that benefits everyone involved in the food supply chain, equally. 

He would love to have a positive impact on the planet by working with like-minded businesses around the world, to support the right to an education for all.

Sai believes the world's natural resources are enough to feed everyone on the planet, if managed fairly and efficiently.

We couldn't agree more!


Things you probably didn't know about Sai...

  1. Sai persuaded two friends to join him on this journey.
  2. One was a chef (handy!) and one a carer, but didn't really inform either about the challenging times ahead. Luckily enough, they have stuck with him, despite everything! 


Discover more about Soyu...

Based in EcoFresh here at the Village, Soyu can be located in one of the fridges along with Wild and Furrow - pretty handy if you're a fan of alternative milk. 

Try some of the tofu for your dinner and you'll never look back! Promise.

It really is the finest around.

You can follow Soyu on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,  or check out more information online.