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Seitan dangers for celiac disease: Avoiding wheat gluten

Lana Bandoim's picture
Celiac Disease

Seitan is a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes, but it is dangerous for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. Seitan is wheat gluten and is made completely from wheat, yet it can be used as a meat substitute. Vegan and vegetarian meals often rely on seitan, but people who are sensitive to gluten must learn to avoid it.


Seitan is found in many vegetarian dishes as a meat substitute because its texture and taste can act as a good replacement. Found in Tofurky and other products, seitan is available in a variety of textures, so many vegans and vegetarians praise its versatility while cooking. It is sometimes called wheat meat or wheat gluten, and nutritionists point out its high protein content. However, people on a gluten-free diet must stay away from it.

The popularity of using seitan in Asian cooking makes it difficult to avoid at restaurants, so people with celiac disease must remain vigilant about the ingredients in their food. Seitan is considered to be 100 percent gluten, so anyone who is sensitive to the protein may experience a severe reaction to such a high amount of the wheat meat. Since seitan can be baked, broiled, cooked, fried and served in other ways, it is important to ask questions about the vegan or vegetarian dishes.

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People on restricted diets who are also trying to avoid meat have other options that do not include seitan. Soy is still a popular meat substitute, and tempeh, tofu, quinoa and beans are available for people who cannot eat gluten but want vegetarian alternatives.

PETA has a list of meat substitute products, but you will have to check the manufacturers’ websites to make sure each item is gluten-free. There are options available from multiple brands that meet both the vegan and gluten-free requirements.

Read more about celiac disease:
Gluten-free Halloween candy safe for celiac disease
Celiac disease apps help create gluten-free meal plans

Image: Seitan, Wikimedia Commons