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Is seitan gluten-free?


Updated October 11, 2013

Is seitan gluten-free?

Is seitan gluten-free?

Getty Images/Annabelle Breakey

Question: Is seitan gluten-free?


Seitan is made by taking flour from wheat (wheat, barley and rye, are the three main gluten grains) and washing away the starch to leave mainly protein.

This process leaves behind a rubbery, meat-like substance that's easily seasoned and then substituted for meat in a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Since the protein left behind in seitan once that starch is washed away is mainly gluten, seitan is most definitely not gluten-free.

In fact, seitan happens to be one of the most potentially toxic substances available for someone following the gluten-free diet — it's probably second only to vital wheat gluten, which is 100% gluten protein.

Seitan is a popular source of protein for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and it commonly appears on the menu in vegetarian restaurants or in ready-to-eat dishes sold at the deli counter and refrigerated sections in health food stores. Watch out for it in wraps, stir-fry dishes or prepared as a barbecued meat substitute — since it contains wheat, it should be clearly labeled, but there may be instances when it isn't.

Since you obviously can't include seitan on your gluten-free vegetarian or vegan diet, you'll want to look for alternative sources of protein. Here are some choices:

Just be sure to steer clear of seitan — if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it will make you sick.


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