As it turns out, yes, seitan can be an excellent source of lean protein and makes a great meat substitute, provided you consider a few things:
Vital Wheat Gluten (VWG)
VWG is the the part of wheat flour that remains after the starches have been “washed” out. You can buy it in powder form or make your own by using the “Wash The Flour” method. Though many recipes also incorporate ingredients such as legumes or tofu, gluten is the essence of seitan. Gluten-free seitan may exist in theory, but really that is just another kind of meat substitute all together.
Gluten Allergies and Sensitivities
Some people may be sensitive to gluten, while others with certain auto-immune diseases (such as celiac disease) may need to avoid it entirely. Of course, if you are concerned about allergies or gluten intolerance, please consult your physician.
Glyphosate — the main chemical used in pesticides — is also a reported cause for apparent gluten sensitivity and/or inflammation. If you are looking to avoid this chemical, search for organic brands of VWG or wash your own organic flour. More readily available brands that are non-GMO, such as Anthony’s and Bob’s Redmill, should contain less Glyphosate.
When you read the label on most brands of VWG, you should find it is high in protein, and low in saturated fat and carbs. This makes it a very healthy option as part of a vegan or vegetarian diet. A typical nutritional label for a 1/4 cup serving should look something like this:
Total Fat: 1-2g 1-3%
Saturated fat: 0g
Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg 0%
Sodium: 0-25mg 0-1%
Total Carbohydrate: 4-6g 1-2%
Dietary fiber: 0g 0%
Total sugar: 0-1g 0%
Plus up to 6% iron and 3% calcium.