Seitan is a vegan meat alternative made from wheat gluten (the primary protein found in wheat). Chinese monks of the 7th century were the first to figure out how to separate the gluten from wheat, and then use it for cooking. They discovered that seitan makes a wonderful meat replacement—it’s chewy, satisfying, and flavorful.
During the 1970s, America’s counterculture experimented with vegetarianism, and seitan became a staple at communes. Seitan’s popularity within the counterculture no doubt arose from the fact that it was one of the cheapest sources of protein imaginable, and that a seitan-based meal can provide hours of satiety.
Today, many of the most popular brands of vegan meat are based on seitan. One of the reasons for seitan’s popularity is that it’s so versatile—it can be spiced in a variety of ways, and then sliced thinly (perfect for vegan cheesesteak sandwiches!), cut into chunks, or even crumbled.
You can find seitan in in the refrigerated section of most natural food stores. Here are some great brands: