Why have we focused an entire business on this single ingredient? Because it's awesome! Here are our FAQ about seitan and why we've chosen it as the heart of Bartleby's.
What is seitan?
Seitan is wheat flour with all its starch granules washed away, leaving only the strands of pure gluten.
Why cook with seitan?
Seitan has a satisfying juicy, chewy texture. It is versatile, and can be baked, steamed, fried, roasted, braised, stewed, etc. It can be cooked to a dense, tough consistency, or to a lighter, spongy consistency. There are endless possibilities! Bartleby’s has tested dozens upon dozens of different cooking methods to find the version that pairs best with the fried crispiness of our sandwiches and nuggets.
How does seitan stack up nutritionally?
Seitan is made from Vital Wheat Gluten (VWG), which is low in fat, low in carbohydrates, and high in protein. It contains no sugar, no saturated fats, and no cholesterol. VWG contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium, plus several B vitamins . It also contains more than the RDA of eight of the nine essential amino acids, which are the basic building blocks for our organs and tissues . The only amino acid that presents in a lower amount is lysine, which is easily found in other foods (like the tomatoes on our sandwiches and in our salads).
After breading and frying, one of our seitan patties has an estimated 10g of fat, 31g of carbohydrates, and 17g of protein .
Should I worry about gluten?
If you have celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten, then yes. Gluten (wheat) is included as one of the eight major allergens; if you have a gluten/wheat allergy, you should avoid it. For the rest of us? Gluten is awesome. It’s delicious, and has many excellent nutritional properties (see above). Of the three most popular meat alternatives, seitan has the highest protein levels per serving: about four times as much as tempeh, and a whopping nine times as much as tofu .
What's the history of seitan?
Seitan has been consumed around the globe for nearly 1500 years. It has long been popular in the Buddhist vegetarian cuisines of China, Japan, and Vietnam . In the west, the popularity of seitan as a meat alternative began to grow in the mid-20th century, during the rise of vegetarianism. It is now a prominent player in many plant-based diets, and available to consumers in most supermarkets, health food stores, specialty markets and cooperatives.
How does seitan support a healthy environment?
Scientists have studied the impact of our collective diets and food systems for decades, and shown that the consumption of fewer animal products yields fewer negative effects to our environment. Plant-based foods emit fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during their production as compared to animal-based foods . Analyses show that when compared to beef, seitan has dramatically lower impacts on the environment, particularly in regards to land use . Shifting toward a plant-based diet is “an efficient strategy for countering biodiversity loss and climate change” . And here at Bartleby’s, we believe that shift is tasty, too.
What is Ahimsa?
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word used to describe the principle of nonviolence toward all living things. Our national food system has been in place for a hundred years. As it has grown with the use of technology and the demands of a rapidly growing population, the transparency of the supply chain has diminished. With our commitment to using no animal products, Bartleby’s can guarantee that no living thing was harmed by our business.
Do you think you're better than I am?
Hell, no! We’re not holier than thou. We love to indulge. We love fried food. Comfort food. Junk food, even. We love over-eating, having cake for breakfast, eating the whole bag of chips—and not just on #WickedWednesday when Bartleby asks. We want to make it easy for you to get some delicious, convenient food that doesn’t harm any living being in the course of its production. Historically, people didn’t have many choices, we ate what was available. Today, we have better tools to make food in a better way. It’s better for you, better for the animals, and better for the planet.
- USDA National Nutrient Database, Vital Wheat Gluten: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/48052?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=Vital+wheat+gluten
- Seitan Amino Acid Profile, https://vegfaqs.com/seitan-amino-acid-profile/.
- Nutrition information calculated via Recipal, https://www.recipal.com.
- Sarah Jampel, "All About Vegetarian Proteins," Food52 (2013). https://food52.com/blog/8406-all-about-vegetarian-proteins
- Peter Scarborough, et al, "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK," Climate Change 125:2 (2014): 179-192. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1.
- Andrew Berardy, "A Consequential Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Seitan and Beef," Course Project Report Series, Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management (May 2012). https://repository.asu.edu/attachments/82942/content/ASU_SSEBE_CESEM_2012_CPR_002.pdf
- Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Uta Johanna Schmidt, "Reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries to counter climate change and biodiversity loss: a review of influence factors," Regional Environmental Change 17:5 (2017): 1261. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-1057-5.