Seitan Is the New Star of Tiktok Food, but Beware of Risks

Mar 09, 2021 05:49 AM EST | By Erika Dee (

Seitan Is the New Star of Tiktok Food
This is a bowl of vegan dish composed of seitan or meat alternatives.
(Photo : Photo by Alesia Kozik from Pexels)

Seitan may sound new as a meat alternative, but it has actually been around commercially for years. Is it safe to eat all the time, though?

What is Seitan? 

Thanks to a TikTok video, seitan is presently making wave as allegedly the best alternative to meat, and therefore, perfect for those going vegan. But while there are many benefits to seitan, experts warned that replacing meats with this has its risks.

@futurelettuce 2-ingredient chicken replacement #washedflour #wtfmethod #veganrecipes #vegantiktok #foodtiktok #foryou #fyp ♬ original sound -

The more popular and mainstream tofu has overshadowed seitan as a meat alternative. But true-blue vegetarians would know everything about seitan and why it has been stable for them for centuries.

Some would even say seitan is better than most soy-based meat-alternatives, although it still largely depends on preferences.

This so-called meat alternative is made of wheat gluten or the main protein found in wheat. When all the starch is washed away from flour, one can be left with just the gluten, a chewy, fibrous texture that can be easily mistaken as meat. 

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Seitan, not being meat, therefore, has its benefits. It's packed with protein and yet very low in carbohydrates - a vegan's dream. It is also naturally low in fat. 

It is also quite a chameleon when it comes to flavor. Fairly tasteless, it can be used with any condiment you use for cooking your dishes, and it'll act as the meat. 

Want some meatless barbecue? Just barbecue this using your favorite barbecue sauce. Want some chickenless teriyaki dish? Then substitute your chicken with this and pour in the teriyaki sauce.

Seitan Risks and Dangers

While this can sound exciting, it does not make seitan the healthiest of foods. It may be a protein powerhouse, but it cannot replace chicken and pork protein. 

It is not a complete protein because it lacks the essential amino acid lysine found in natural protein sources. Moreover, because it is very high in gluten, some might end up in a worse state if they incorporate this into their diet. Prime examples are those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity

Those who are venturing into the vegan diet are likely to be attracted to seitan because it is a way to ease into a diet they are not used to. 

From eating pork and chicken to their hearts' delight, they could do away with these. It can be very hard, but seitan eases the way. However, an expert claims that the vegan diet's goal is actually to eat more vegetables and not just stay away from meat and dairy. 

"I know we're looking to reduce our meat consumption, but you should really be increasing your consumption of vegetables. It shouldn't all be fake meat," Yoli Ouiya told TODAY. She is the co-founder of the Food and Wellness Equity Collective. 

Ouiya added that seitan is a binding food. Given the fact that it has a certain level of elasticity and goofiness while one touches it, there are likely to be consequences of having too much of it. 

Ouiya warned that even though flour has some nutrients, eating seitan daily still means stuffing the body with processed food.

READ MORE: Vegan Diet Can Lead to Poorer Bone Health, New Study Reveals

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