Going waste-free is an incredible way to reduce your negative impact on the planet. You are caring for the Earth, for ocean life, and reducing your exposure to harmful toxins. However there are many other ways you can also benefit the environment. One of these is going vegetarian or vegan, and these are things I struggle with immensely.
As a family we have always eaten meat (except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because yay Indian culture), however two years ago, my twin sister became vegetarian, and regularly cooks vegan dishes (you can check out some of her amazing dishes here). I found this utterly inspiring, and always wished I could do make that change too.
And to be honest, there is nothing really stopping me, just my own desire. Of course it isn’t so easy to cut out something you have always eaten, especially in a world obsessed with meat consumption. What’s more, I love body-building and sports, so I need to eat a lot of protein (I aim for approximately 60g a day), which is not so simple with a vegetarian lifestyle. Finally, since I went plastic-free, finding food I enjoyed eating was already difficult, never mind embracing a whole new diet. Of course, my meat was already reduced since I no longer bought packaged meat in the supermarket, but this still seemed impossible.
However, last week we both went to Philadelphia, where I was introduced to the fantastic meat-substitute: seitan.
We ate at a wonderful restaurant called V Street, a totally vegan bar that served all kinds of exciting dishes: tempeh tacos, “cheese” fries, seitan shish kebab, waffles and banana ice cream… (yes we ate ALL of it!) What was amazing about this food was that you couldn’t even tell there was no meat or dairy in it, which for those veggie-aspiring people is a great option to help you start converting. Needless to say, I plan on ordering their cookbook!
What is seitan?
Seitan, also known as “wheat meat”, is wheat protein, and consists of a lot of gluten. This is what gives it such a meaty consistency. In addition, because it is made out of gluten, this means it has a very high protein content. For example, some seitan mixes contain up to 82g of protein for an 100g portion. In comparison, 100g of chicken breast will give you around 30g, and 100g of steak gives you around 25g. This makes it a really fantastic option for wannabe muscle-builders like me for avoiding meat and still taking in a very high amount of protein.
Of course it has its caveats. Seitan is in no way suitable for those with coeliac disease, since the stuff is pretty much entirely gluten. Also, since gluten is an inflammatory allergen, those who do not have coeliac disease can still show symptoms of intolerance, although this is still highly debated.
You can make seitan from scratch, but I buy a seitan mix that is really easy to make. What’s more, the packaging is just a paper bag, so it’s a zero waste win too!
How do you make seitan?
Each recipe will vary a little, but I use the following according to the instructions on the pack mix that I buy:
For 100g of seitan mix,
1. Put approx. 150ml of water in a bowl. Add whatever you want to season your seitan with at this stage into the water. This can be salt, pepper, finely chopped onions, chillis, or whatever other spices you want.
2. Add the gluten mixture and knead the mixture quickly until it forms a ball of dough.
3. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
4. Cut the dough into slices and boil in vegetable broth for 25 minutes. (I just used water at this stage since I didn’t have broth; it worked but my seitan was quite bland.)
5. Take out the slices and dab them dry with a tea towel.
6. Then cook as you desire! You can eat it as it is, but I prefer frying the slices in oil. I’m also going to try grilling at some point.
And the final results weren’t too bad!
Seitan is simple to make, plastic-free cooking, vegan AND it contains loads of protein. It is so versatile, I shall definitely be cooking with it more often, and I hope it will help me make the switch to a vegetarian (and eventually vegan) diet.
So if you want to cut down on your meat but still have cravings, seitan is a delicious option and is available plastic-free too.
Have you made seitan before and have some exciting recipes? Comment below and share them, I would love to try them!