We have a question for you, the little and big chicken lovers! For you, who eat it breaded, roasted, and even fried, whether at home or in a restaurant. Have you ever heard of seitan? Introduced in China by Buddhist monks, it is a key ingredient of vegetarian cuisine. Its name comes from the juxtaposition of two words “SEI” meaning “made of” and “TAN” which refers to “tanpaku”, meaning “protein”. Both products are popular, one with traditional consumers, the other with vegans and vegetarians, but are they good for health and the planet? WiseFins studied the nutritional values, water requirements and carbon impact of chicken and its alternative. Let the battle begin!
Round 1: chicken vs. seitan: wich one is better for my health?
Let us start this battle with one of France’s favorite meals, chicken. This protein-rich white meat provides the essential amino acids for our body. Like most poultry, this meat is low in calories and fat. Source of phosphorus, iron, copper and zinc, chicken meat is recommended for athletes, as it contributes to the proper functioning of the muscular system. Its substitute, seitan, seems to have similar advantages. If we know how chicken meat is made, we need to introduce you to the composition of seitan. It is made from wheat or spelt flour. The flour is mixed with water to separate the starch and bran from the gluten. The concentrated gluten dough is then cooked in a broth made of soy sauce, vegetables and spices. It is a product that provides a lot of protein and little fat. It is easy to understand why seitan is also called “wheat meat” !
RESULT: a perfect tie between chicken meat and seitan ! On the other hand, bad news for gluten intolerant people because it is the base of seitan. If you are interested in making seitan, there are many recipes combining different tastes and flavors!
Round 2: chicken vs. seitan: which has the least impact on our water resources?
It’s time to decide between our two competitors. To do so, let’s start this round with the emblematic chicken meat. If you are regular readers (and we hope you are!), you must know that the breeding and production of meat have a negative impact on the environment, especially on our water resources. Unfortunately, chicken meat does not seem to be an exception to this rule. Indeed, the production of one kilo of chicken meat requires 6,090 liters of water. By way of comparison, this is equal to a month’s worth of daily showers for a four-person household. Seitan, on the other hand, seems to be more reasonable in its water consumption. One kilo of seitan requires 300 liters of water, 20 times less than its competitor! This is where the plant takes the lead over the animal.
RESULT : no surprise, seitan wins this round ! This veggie substitute, thanks to a lower water requirement, crushed its opponent and takes a lead in this battle.
Round 3: chicken vs. seitan: which one has the lowest carbon footprint?
Will seitan win this new round dedicated to the evaluation of the lowest carbon footprint? It’s very likely! The production of one kilo of seitan emits only 0.51 kilos of CO2. A low score that chicken will have a hard time competing with. Indeed, the production of one kilo of chicken generates 5.68 kilos of CO2, 11 times more than its vegetable opponent. Imagine now a trip from Antibes to Grasse by car, that is to say 29 kilometers of travel. Well! This journey is equivalent to the production of one kilo of chicken. An impressive figure, but let’s remain positive! Chicken meat, among all other meats, is the meat that has the lowest impact on the environment. This makes us wonder about the ecological impact of our daily meat consumption.
RESULT: Here again, seitan wins this round with a lower carbon footprint than its competitor. Bravo!
Verdict: Seitan is the big winner!
Seitan, an outsider because it is less popular on our supermarket shelves, wins the WiseFins battle! Although both products seem to be equivalent in terms of nutritional values, seitan is the product with the lowest impact on the ecology. If you are curious about the ecological impact of chicken, WiseFins tells you all about it in this article. Plant-based food seems to be an excellent substitute for our conventional diet and never ceases to amaze us!