Seitan and tofu: Let’s talk about ‘weird’ vegan food

Replacing meat in your diet has never been easier, with vegan sausages, burgers, and other such products now widely available in supermarkets, health food shops, and even your local corner shops if you’re lucky.

As vegans, we are often accused of eating ‘weird’ things. One such item that is often labelled ‘weird’ is tofu. But curdled soya milk is hardly weird in comparison to, say, dead animals. I am certain that most of you knew of tofu before the Summer Vegan Pledge, but perhaps you may have never tried it or looked into it.

Tofu has been used in East and Southeast Asian dishes for more than 2,000 years. It contains many vital nutrients, including:

Protein – tofu/soya is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of your essential amino acids. Per 100g, tofu contains 8.2g of protein.

Iron– iron is essential for your body to create healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Per 100g, tofu contains 5.4mg of iron.

Calcium – calcium is essential for good bone health, amongst other vital functions. Per 100g calcium-set tofu (just look for ‘calcium’ in the ingredients) contains 350mg of calcium.

Here are a few of my favourite tofu-based recipes:
Chilli tofu

Vegan cheesecake with mango lime topping

Seitan is something that is growing in popularity; it even features on the Wagamama vegan menu. But what exactly is it?

Seitain is a meat-substitute made from wheat gluten, which is the main protein of wheat. It has been used in Asian cuisine as a meat substitute for thousands of years. Ready made seitian is usually available at most independent health food shops, but companies such as Tofurkey use it in their products.

As with tofu, it is very versatile and takes on flavours and seasoning well, meaning you can make “chicken”, “beef” or “pork” style dishes with it, if you mix the flavourings well. It is very high in protein (as much as 60 grams per cup/340 grams).

It is also pretty cheap and easy to make, here’s a recipe! And check out this amazing ‘chicken’style’ seitan roast recipe by our friend Aaron!

But of course, you do not need to eat tofu and seitan if you don’t want to. The great thing about plant-based food is that it is still easy to create delicious, cheap and nutritious dishes from wholefoods – such as beans, legumes, pulses and whole grains.