Seitan: The Other White-Meat Substitute

If you want to add a lot of protein and variety to your vegetarian and vegan diet, try seitan. Also known as “wheat-meat” because of its meat-like texture, it’s the best plant protein to replace chicken, beef, and pork in recipes.

Seitan is seasoned wheat gluten. As you may already know, wheat gluten is the substance that makes dough elastic, helps it to rise, and to keep its shape. Seitan is made by kneading flour and water together. Then it’s rinsed several times to remove the starch. The dough gets formed into balls and simmered for several hours, usually in a broth of shoyu sauce (a Japanese version of soy sauce).

While wheat-meat may be new to vegetarians and vegans in the U.S., it’s been a staple in the Middle and the Far East for hundreds of years.

It’s All About The Protein

Wheat-meat is an excellent meat substitute for many reasons. Just three and one-half ounces has 16 grams of protein and only 120 calories. That’s twice as much protein as tofu and 40% more protein than two medium eggs. Plus, it’s also a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids. Why is this important? Your body can not make essential amino acids, so you must get them from food.

Seitan is Not for Everyone

If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, don’t consume it. And, be vigilant in vegetarian and vegan restaurants where it’s a popular ingredient.

Photo by Hanxiao on Unsplash

Although wheat-meat is a complete protein, it’s low in the amino acid lysine. The shoyu sauce mentioned above is high in lysine, so it’s not a problem if you buy it. But if you make seitan yourself, you’ll have to add the lysine yourself. You can stir fry the seitan with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Another option is to serve it with a vegetarian food source of lysine.

The quality of the seitan available in stores can vary quite a bit and depends on the type of wheat and seasonings used. The best quality is made with hard winter wheat, which has the highest protein content. It’s also simmered in kombu (seaweed) and naturally aged shoyu, which adds valuable minerals and lysine. Whole-wheat flour also adds additional vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron.

Easy to Cook With

As I mentioned above, wheat-meat is super easy to use in place of meat. You can fry, stir-fry, bake, use a pressure cooker, sauté, and marinate it. The possibilities are endless.

You can find it in health food stores and some conventional grocery stores in the refrigerator section.


Vegetarian & Vegan

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace your healthcare professional or provide diagnosis or treatment.