Top Seitan Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/22/22 •  12 min read

What are seitan benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are seitan pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

seitan benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on seitan benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about seitan benefits and side effects. This will include seitan benefits for your health and potential risks, seitan water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if seitan is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if seitan is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about seitan benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Seitan Benefits And Side Effects

HEALTH

Energy: seitan is good for / helps longer feelings of fullness, reduce hunger | seitan is bad for / increases the risk of abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, itching, swelling (if gluten or wheat sensitive)

Longevity: seitan is bad for / increases the risk of possibly contributing to inflammation and leaky gut syndrome (if gluten or wheat sensitive)

Appearance: seitan is good for / helps muscle building, weight loss | seitan is bad for / increases the risk of possibly contributing to skin conditions (if gluten or wheat sensitive)

Seitan is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: moderate, it takes 4,189 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat gluten / 501 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat gluten

Carbon footprint: likely low, 0.56 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of whole wheat flour, a car driving equivalent of 1.25 miles or 2 kilometers

Destruction: low, seitan is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Seitan is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, seitan production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, seitan production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from seitan production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Seitan is…

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LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Seitan…

Is seitan nutritious?

Yes! Seitan is high in protein, selenium and minerals while low in carbs and fat.

What are other names for seitan?

Other names for seitan are wheat gluten, wheat meat, wheat protein and vital wheat gluten.

seitan is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is seitan alkaline or acidic? Seitan is acidic once digested. Some faux meats are acid forming foods, while other meat replacements like tofu and tempeh are alkaline.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

seitan is not gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is seitan gluten free? No, seitan is not gluten free. Seitan contains gluten. Seitan is a type of meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten, therefore making it a naturally glutinous food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

seitan is a common food allergen: wheat.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is seitan a common food allergen? Yes, seitan contains a common food allergen: wheat. Many people experience allergic reactions to seitan.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

seitan has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does seitan have a high or low water footprint? Seitan has a moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of seitan? It takes 4,189 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat gluten / 501 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat gluten.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

seitan likely has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does seitan have a high or low carbon footprint? Seitan has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of seitan? It takes around 0.56 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of whole wheat flour, a car driving equivalent of 1.25 miles or 2 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

seitan is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is seitan eco friendly? Is seitan sustainable?

Seitan production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

seitan is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is seitan vegan? Yes, seitan is vegan. Seitan is wheat gluten, made from the protein of wheat, a type of cereal grain, and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

seitan is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is seitan a product associated with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns associated with seitan production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade

This post was all about seitan benefits and side effects.

Sources:

seitan – FoodData Central – USDA

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer. I organize ethical info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers planet. Use HEALabel to go vegan, live sustainably and optimize your health!