World Seitan Day

World Seitan Day is the 18th October each year.  Created to celebrate the world’s most versatile vegan meat and honour George Ohsawa (pictured right), the first person to ever coin the term ‘seitan’.

Seitan itself dates back to ancient China, almost 1,500 years ago. Buddhist monks in the sixth century discovered the ‘wheat meat’ after rinsing wheat dough with running water, removing all the starch, leaving a high protein wheat gluten. Ancient folklore suggests that the Buddhist monks behind the discovery used seitan to encourage followers to adopt a meat-free diet, offering the ‘wheat meat’ as an alternative to killing and eating animals.

Despite the ancient history, the term ‘seitan’ wasn’t used until the early 1960s. The term originates from the combination of two words: sei, meaning “made of” or “proper/correct” and tan, the first character in the Japanese word tanpaku, which means “protein.” It was coined in the early 1960s by the Japanese philosopher and founder of the macrobiotic diet George Ohsawa (1893 – 1966) who brought seitan to the West in the early 1960s.

George was an interesting character. He was born in 1893 into a poor family in Shinju City, Japan and his family couldn’t afford more than a basic education for him. Despite this, he went on to write around 300 books in both Japanese and French.

George was a pacifist and during the Second World War he wrote a book that predicted Japan’s defeat. He was incarcerated for this and narrowly escaped death. He was the founder of the macrobiotic diet, its major principles are to reduce animal products, eat locally grown foods that are in season, and consume meals in moderation. George was ahead of his time.

World Seitan Day will take place on October 18th every year, Ohsawa’s birthday, and will celebrate the food’s versatility and honour Ohsawa’s memory.

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