What Is Seitan?

Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat. It’s popularity owes to it’s chewy texture, which makes it a more believable substitute for meat that tofu or tempeh. It is high in protein (about 150% recommended daily intake in one serving) and iron (about 28% recommended daily intake in one serving).

Seitan is often used in vegetarian Asian dishes. It is also used as an ingredient in popular vegetarian products like Tofurky. So even though you might think you’ve never had it, if you are a vegetarian, you probably have eaten it before. It has a somewhat bland taste on its own – a little bit like chicken, actually, mixed with a sort of muchroom flavor. If you’ve eaten a vegetarian dish from an Chinese restaurant, you might have noticed a chewy tofu-like rectangle. That was probably seitan.

My only issue with seitan is the fact that it is made entirely from gluten. Wheat gluten is found in small amounts in some products, but seitan is made entirely from wheat gluten. I’m just a bit hesitant to eat large amounts of highly allergenic foods. I once ate a bowl of oatmeal and twenty minutes later I could hardly breath. I’m not usually allergic to anything, so that incident has me always on my toes when it comes to food allergies, especially if I’ll be serving it to others.