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Seitan: Is the meat substitute unhealthy?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 168 views

Seitan, also known as mianjin or wheat gluten, is a protein-rich meat substitute made from wheat. It can be used to make steaks, sausages or patties. Read here how healthy and climate-friendly seitan is. We also explain how to make seitan yourself.

What is seitan?

Along with tofu and tempeh , seitan is one of the most popular meat substitutes. The term seitan comes from the Japanese and means something like ” protein of life”.

The reason for this is: Seitan is made from the gluten in wheat. Centuries ago, this meat substitute played a major role in the diet of Asian monks.

Seitan is starch-free and has a high protein content of up to 30 grams per 100 grams – more than tofu (16 grams) and meat (26 grams), for example. The wheat product is al dente and has a compact and fibrous consistency that resembles meat.

You can buy seitan in organic supermarkets, in health food shops or in Asian markets – pure, pre-seasoned with soy sauce and processed into vegetarian sausages, schnitzel or patties.

In organic shops you can also often find pure gluten, which you can mix with water and process directly into seitan. Seitan is also easy to make yourself.

This meat substitute is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance.

What is seitan made of?

Making seitan is straightforward and only requires two ingredients: wheat flour and water. They are mixed together and formed into a dough. After it has rested for a while, the starch is worked out by constant kneading – until only the protein, i.e. the gluten, is left and an elastic consistency is formed.

In this form, seitan is almost tasteless. That is why it is often boiled in a spicy broth at the end. Soy sauce, vegetable broth or spices such as chili and ginger are suitable for seasoning .

How healthy is seitan?

Seitan is characterized above all by its high protein content. It is therefore an important source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. In addition, it is cholesterol-free and low in fat. 100 grams of seitan has 148 calories. This amount covers 40 percent of the daily iron requirement. If you prepare seitan with soy sauce, you’ll absorb its nutrients better.

However, many of the minerals, dietary fibers and vitamins in wheat are lost during the manufacturing process. In addition, conventional meat substitutes with seitan often contain a lot of salt , flavorings, sugar and additives . Organic products are more suitable because they contain fewer additives.

Therefore, eat products with seitan only occasionally and carefully. Vegetarians and vegans consume enough protein with a balanced diet, even without meat substitutes. Good suppliers are:

  • Owner
  • Milch
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • Grain
  • Together

Find out more about meat substitutes here .

Seitan is that climate-friendly

How climate-friendly seitan is depends on where the wheat comes from. If it is from organic and regional cultivation, the climate balance is good. It is therefore advisable to buy organic seitan products.

Compared to meat, seitan is five times more environmentally friendly on average. However, it performs slightly worse than tofu or tempeh.

How to prepare seitan yourself

For 250 grams of seitan you need

  • 1 kilogram of wheat or spelled flour
  • 750 grams of water

How to prepare:

  • Put the flour and water in a large bowl and knead the ingredients into a smooth dough without lumps.
  • Cover and let the dough rest for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Add another liter of water to the dough and knead the dough in the water. This separates the protein and starch from each other. The starch will dissolve in the water and become milky. The egg white forms a lump.
  • After a few minutes, change the water and continue kneading the dough – repeat until the water runs clear.
  • Since seitan is relatively tasteless, you can incorporate spices such as salt, herbs or soy sauce into the dough. Alternatively, already cooked, steamed or baked seitan pieces can be marinated.

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