For a few years now my wife and I have followed a strict vegan diet. We started eating this way mostly for health reasons. As a new year’s resolution this year we decided to add more exercise into our life. I have always been a thin guy and wanted to add some muscle so I decided to start weight training. I knew I would also need to alter my diet, include increasing my overall caloric intake and upping my protein intake to meet my goals.
Need for Vegan Protein
After some research I realized I needed a lot more protein if I wanted to gain muscle. I was consuming roughly 60 grams a day from my regular diet, which by most standards is good and healthy, but not enough for building muscle. For my weight I needed at least 140 grams according to most bodybuilding experts. For a vegan, this seemed like a pretty daunting task. The most often recommended high protein food source I saw for vegans was Soy. For the amount of soy I would need to eat I was nervous about the phytoestrogens and its possible effects on testosterone. I’d rather be safe than sorry. I also didn’t want to rely solely on vegan protein drinks either. After more research I learned about Seitan.Credit: http://veganmotherhubbard.net/wp-content/uploads/blogger/-JukAV_utAT8/T-MNB4uG9fI/AAAAAAAADYw/-iwSH61TEdY/s1600/BBQ%2BSeitan%2B2.jpg
Seitan - An Alternative
Seitan is wheat gluten, which is the main protein in wheat. Seitan has been used as a meat replacement in Asia for a long time and is nicknamed “wheat meat” or “mock duck”. It soaks up the flavor of whatever it is being cooked with which is what makes it such a great meat alternative. It’s nearly pure protein and a serving can have 20+ grams. Obviously, if you have gluten intolerance then this is not a good option for you, since its 100% gluten. For me, this was my answer!(assuming it tasted decent of course)Credit: http://static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/westsoy-seitan-strips-96260.jpg
Where do I try this stuff?
After days of struggling to pronounce it (no two people say it the same but I call it “say-taan”) I finally found it at my local Whole Foods and bought a package. I was glad to see that it wasn’t expensive, about $1.50 a serving. I’ll be the first to say it, it looked weird. It looked a little like clay but it smelled very good. It was packaged with a broth that helped it keep its consistency. I decided to use it in a stir fry as a way to ease myself into it (come on, what doesn’t taste good in a stir-fry?). I added it in just like it was beef strips or chicken and it was phenomenal! It soaked up every bit of flavor. The texture wasn’t very meat-like to me but that was just an observation, not a downside. I was hooked.Credit: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v517/InfiniteNesmith/PostedStuff/koreanseitanstirfry01.jpg
Can I DIY?
I began to research making my own Seitan. I won’t go into detail about the recipes or process, I’ll save that for another article but the minimum needed to make it is wheat gluten and water. It’s so simple. I have since experimented various ways to make it and different spices to add to make it even better and fit with different dishes. It has become a staple of my vegan diet and an important source of my daily protein intake.Credit: http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/wholefoods.jpg
I’ve gotten up to my 140 grams per day and I’m seeing great results building muscle (my wife will be the first to tell you!). I’m so glad that I learned about Seitan and it has become a fun project for me to experiment with. Combined with a balanced diet Seitan is a vegan protein powerhouse!
Bob's Red Mill Wital Wheat Gluten
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(price as of Jun 7, 2015)