Seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) is rising up the ranks of the most popular vegan meats in Europe. Vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat-eaters alike are becoming seitan fans thanks to its meaty texture, healthy ingredients and satisfying taste. But what is seitan? Where does it come from? Here’s the lowdown.
What is it made of?
Known to some people as wheat meat, wheat gluten, or wheat protein, seitan is made by kneading wheat flour with water to create sticky strands of gluten protein. The excess starch on the dough is then washed away with water.
The result is a gooey mass of gluten protein that can be seasoned, chopped up, cooked, or shaped in whatever way it’s needed.
At LoveSeitan, we have altered the process slightly to ensure more flavour. We use vital wheat gluten, which has the starch already removed. The flavourings are then added to the dry ingredients so that the seitan is flavoured throughout, rather than making the seitan then adding flavours afterwards.
Where does it come from?
Seitan dates back to ancient China, almost 1,500 years ago. Buddhist monks in the sixth century discovered the wheat meat after soaking their wheat dough in water, removing all the starch, leaving a high protein wheat gluten.
Some ancient folklore suggests that the same 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.
The term ‘seitan’ is thought to have come from the combination of several 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.
What does it taste like?
Seitan has proved itself to be a popular choice for flexitarians, vegans and meat-eaters thanks to its enjoyable texture. Seitan, especially when cooked, has an excellent ‘bite quality’, which often attracts those looking for a vegan meat alternative. The taste can vary, depending on how it’s seasoned. The good news is it’s versatile; seasoning at the development stage can make a big difference. For example, we offer a wide variety of flavours, ranging from Italian Herb, Smokey Dokey, Chilli Garlic and even Funky Chyck’n.
How do I cook/prepare it?
Seitan’s versatility is one of its best strengths. The range of meals you can create and the number of ways you can cook/prepare it are seemingly limitless. You can chop it up and fry it, roast, grill, heat up in a curry sauce, bake it, and even eat it raw.
If you are flexitarian or if you are transitioning to a vegan / plant-based diet, you can use seitan to create any dishes that you would previously have used animal products. Whether it’s a roast dinner, a burger, pasta, a stir fry, a stew or casserole, fried rice or a filling for a sandwich, burrito or jacket potato. It’s also works well in a curry, in lasagna, in pies or pasties, or as a pizza topping or as part of a full English breakfast.
Why is it healthy?
Seitan contains a very small amount of fat as wheat grains are almost completely fat-free. On average, one serving (100g) contains only 1.5 grams of fat. Seitan also tends to be low in salt and sugar (depending on the production process) and doesn’t require preservatives.
Of course, it’s the content of seitan that is the most exciting part, not what isn’t in it. Seitan is packed with protein (approx. 30%) and is also a reliable source of fibre, iron and calcium. And when it comes to our own LoveSeitan products, they are all fortified with B12 and contain no cholesterol, GMO’s or Palm Oil.
What’s next for seitan?
The sky’s the limit! Seitan’s potential is massive, especially when you consider the continuing rise of people moving to plant-based or flexitarian diets. As the world looks for more sustainable food sources and moves away from animal products, seitan is in pole position to become one of the world’s favourite protein sources.
Our mission at LoveSeitan is to help bring this healthy, cruelty-free food to all people who want it, in a convenient way, at a fair price. So make sure to follow our journey and stay up to date with our new products and progress!